Bottled Up Emotions

How do you express your emotions? Do you let everyone know how you are feeling as you go? Do you open up only around certain people? Do you act like nothing is happening, but in reality, you are boiling inside? Do you suppress your emotions? Or do you blow up in anger or burst out in tears as soon as an emotion comes up?

If you are like me, you bottle up your emotions for some period of time. You try to keep a straight face when someone tries to hurt your feelings, whether intentionally or not. You make it look like you have it altogether and can handle pretty much anything. Soon you hear yourself expressing anger and frustration by making sarcastic comments or being cynical behind the person’s back. You don’t want to blow up and seem like a crazy person who can’t handle a simple offense so you come home and act like you are in a bad mood and it’s everyone’s fault.

Admitting that someone’s comment hurt you can be a sign of weakness at first. Personal criticism is not taken easily by most people, but we don’t want to admit that there might be truth to what is being said. Feelings get hurt; emotions are running high; resentment is building up inside slowly. We are too proud to show that we care so we bottle up our emotions and boil inside.

Why is it so difficult to show our true emotions as they are at the moment? Why do we fear being criticized so much? The answer is simple.

We are insecure. We worry about admitting our weaknesses. We worry about being rejected. We worry about what people will think of us if we show our vulnerability.

The truth is being vulnerable and authentic is actually showing true strength. Owing our emotions and feelings without pretense of being someone else is in itself courageous.

I am not good at showing my true emotions as they are. I recently learned the term passive-aggressive. I would rather suck it up for the time being, but then go and complain about an issue later to my husband or friends, instead of dealing directly with the person who hurt my feelings. Basically, I am a chicken:).

Learning emotional intelligence is one of my personal goals. Learning how to unlearn being passive-aggressive is a new territory for me. In order to teach my son how to properly deal with emotions and feelings I first have to learn how to do it myself and be a good example for him.

Wish someone taught me when I was little…

Bad Habit or Addiction?

When you are having a bad day at work, or fighting with your partner, or having a stressful day all around, what do you turn to for comfort? Is it food, alcohol, cigarettes, pain pills, online shopping? Or is praying or meditating, or calling your best friend or close family member?

I have been observing people around me for the last few weeks and noticed that most of us turn to cigarettes, alcohol, and food when we feel stressed or uneasy. For some reason, we tend to believe that these will make our stress go away – at least temporary. During the day we are looking for something to snack on. By the end of our workday we start dreaming about that glass of wine or beer when we get home, thinking that somehow all the stress of the day would disappear.

A lot of times it does work temporarily and we feel some sort of relief almost immediately. But other times we feel even worse. We are not only still stressed, but now we are adding the feeling of guilt. Why did I eat that piece of cake? Why did I drink this bottle of wine and have a headache? Why did I smoke that cigarette again when I know I am only ruining my health? Why did I go shopping again and spent money I don’t have?

So, are those just bad habits? Or can we consider them addictions? When does a habit become an addiction?

If you ask me, it takes some time to form a habit, whether good or bad. Once it becomes a habit, we do something automatically, not thinking much about it. A habit becomes an addiction when we turn to it systematically while knowing that it is potentially harmful for us, mentally, psychologically, or physically. The more we practice a habit, the deeper we start depending on it, the harder it is to quit.

I personally have had my fair share of bad habits. I was able to ditch all of them, except one. Turning to alcohol in times of stress, social anxiety, or joyful events seemed to be a norm for the longest time. Almost everyone I know drinks on every possible occasion. We are stressed – we drink. It’s someone’s birthday – we drink. Going out to sushi restaurant – we have to have sake. We go camping – we sit around the fire and drink. We go to the beach – we sip on cocktails, and so on and so forth. It seems like life is just one long drinking event.

So when and how do we stop?

Recently, I have come to the conclusion that drinking alcohol, even if it is one or two drinks, takes me away from God. I can’t pray. It also takes me away from doing anything productive. I can’t read, or clean, or work on any projects – all I want is to lay down in bed and do nothing. It takes me away from my son. I don’t feel fully present with him.

I really want to retrain my brain to turn to other stress relievers other than alcohol. For you, it might be food, or cigarettes, or gambling, shopping, sex, or whatever else that takes over you. I don’t want my son to grow up like I did – when drinking was going on everywhere and all the time. People act differently when they are tipsy. We all know that. We do things we wouldn’t do sober. It’s almost like alcohol gives us wings and lets us free – out of our mind cage.

I want to learn how to pray in times of sadness and joy instead. I want to learn how to deal with my emotions as they are, without trying to “cover” them with a bad habit. I want to be emotionally intelligent. So that’s the plan. Whether I succeed or not is not guaranteed, but at least it’s worth trying.

What’s your bad habit? What do you turn to in times of stress? Do you feel guilty afterwards? Maybe it’s more than just a bad habit?

Please comment and share your thoughts.

See a Therapist or Pray?

Do you feel like there is an internal issue that you can’t resolve on your own? Is it something from your past that is still affecting you? Relationship issue? Do you know why you are feeling down? Or maybe you have absolutely no idea why you are feeling and acting in a way that doesn’t feel right? How do you figure this out? Can you just pray about it and wait till God helps you resolve the issue, or is it time to see a therapist? 

 

If you are like me, I always thought that only crazy people go to therapists. But what is the definition of crazy? For different people it has different meaning. I am starting to learn that, first, most people have some issues that they carry with them, and second, therapists can be of big help because they are trained professionals; they devote their lifetimes to study how human minds work. We, ourselves, don’t know everything and can use help sometimes figuring out what’s really going on. 

 

I am dealing with some issues from the past that started leaking into my relationship with my husband. Since I value my marriage very much, my husband should not be responsible for my past. It’s in my hands to figure this out. I decided to be honest with him and opened up about how I was feeling about certain things. I told him I am considering talking to a therapist; putting my pride down and asking for help. I also talked to my priest when I went for a confession last time. He also agreed that talking about things that bother me with a trained professional could be a good things for me. 

 

As for praying about our issues, that is the definite yes. Prayer and professional help can totally co-exist. It’s best to find a Christian therapist if your faith is important to you, but it’s not an absolute must; we can still learn something. Also, just like with priests, If you are not comfortable with your therapist, it’s ok to look for someone else; someone you can connect with and you feel is empathetic with you. 

 

I was surprised to see how many of my friends and even family actually went to see therapists. Even if it didn’t help them resolve everything, it sounded like they at least learned something that made a difference. Small steps are still steps. Complicated issues cannot be resolved in one day. It’s ok to be humble and look for help. And maybe it’s better to start when you first notice imbalance inside, instead of waiting till you can’t go like that any longer. 

 

What is your experience with therapy? Have you ever thought of seeing a therapist but never went, or you have been going to one and think that it is very helpful? When do you think a person should consider therapy?

Being Right or Choosing Peace?

 

Is it more important to you to be right or to keep peace when you are in a conflict? When you choose to keep peace, does it really make you peaceful, or is that “peace” only on the surface and deep inside you are really boiling with anger? Is being right always wrong and you should keep peace just to keep everyone else happy but yourself? Is striving to prove yourself being right always selfish? Are you afraid of arguments? Does your attitude change depending on who you are having an argument with?

 

To me, it has always been more important to keep peace. I let a lot of offenses slide just to stay out of unnecessary drama, unless it’s my husband. A lot of times I feel like it’s easier to not argue because I know the other person would never admit their wrong and it will turn into something even more serious. Sometimes I just don’t feel mature enough to handle a difficult conflict without being flustered and pointing fingers. Resolving conflict is a skill that I yet have to master. How am I going to master it though if I never practice? 

 

Keeping peace on the surface doesn’t mean you feel peaceful inside. It does not mean that there is no internal dialogue going on where I “slash” my opponent with the sword of wisdom, when in reality I’m nervous to even open my mouth and not find the right words; so I keep quiet. Now, with my husband it’s a different story. I know how he will react. I know we are not going to go separate ways after a fight. I know it’s going to be okay. I know what to expect. Other people can be unpredictable, and keeping quiet sometimes is better if I want to protect myself emotionally. 

 

Letting someone off the hook here and there is okay because no one is perfect and we all can have emotional outbursts and may offend someone without even thinking twice about it. If the other person doesn’t let us know we were wrong, how are we ever going to find out? What if we keep acting the same way thinking it’s okay, but the other person just collects it all inside and pretends it’s all good. Is he or she going to blow up one day and shock us with some strong emotions that we never even thought he or she had? 

 

In my opinion, keeping it all inside is not always good. If it’s a one-time offense, maybe it’s okay and I give that person benefit of a doubt, but if he or she continues knowingly or unknowingly hurting me, I know for a fact that I will start feeling resentful and it might be too late to fix the relationship because the hurt will be too deep by then. I let it happen way too often, especially when it comes to family and close friends. By doing that, I become an enabler. I send them a message that it’s okay to act that way towards me. At least with my husband I let it out, we huff and puff, and then we talk, and it’s all gone. In case with other people, if I don’t  ever say anything, most likely they will do same thing or worse over and over again, and it’s either my husband who will have to hear me vent constantly behind their backs, or one day I will just blow up and pour all the anger and frustration on them, and the relationship will be ruined completely… 

 

I wasn’t raised to be confrontational. Being a Christian, I am encouraged to be humble and give the other cheek. I think I take it to extremes though. The Bible does say that it’s okay to rebuke someone, but it is to be done with love. Oh, how much love do you feel when you are angry? I personally need some time to cool off before I even attempt to speak. If I try to prove myself right in the heat of the moment, it never ever turns out well. I’m learning how to set boundaries with people so that there is no conflict in the first place. Speaking my mind is hard for me, and I internally suffer. Why am I such a chicken?

 

What kind of advice would you give to someone like me? How do you find courage to speak up without feeling uncomfortable afterwards? Please comment and share your thoughts.