Unexpressed Feelings and Emotions

It is very difficult to have loving relationships when we carry around unexpressed feelings especially those of anger and resentment.  Resentment is anger directed at others and it is usually because we want to change their behavior.  This anger can be redirected into changing ourselves not in changing the other person.  Guilt is anger felt at ourselves when we don’t live up to our own expectations.  We are constantly thinking or saying “I should have done this, or I ought to do that, or I must do this”.  We need to eliminate the judgments we have towards other and towards ourselves.  Stop “shoulding” yourself and others.  Start practicing more self-love.  Lear how to love, honor and respect yourself through the power of self-love.  The more you love and accept yourself the less anger and resentment you will feel towards others.

Emotions are energy in motion and since it is our energy we can use it any way we like.  We can do this by modifying our beliefs about our behaviors/feelings and redirect our energy in a more positive way.

Unexpressed feelings are like weeds in a garden. They can take root and choke out any good feelings you once had. Unexpressed feelings lead to anger, resentment and depression. Your body and mind suffer greatly when you don’t express how you really think and feel.

Most people tend to deny their thoughts and feelings and hide them because they are afraid that their mate and loved ones won’t love them anymore. They are afraid that no one would love or care for the “real person” that they are inside.

If you don’t lighten your load by unpacking and releasing your baggage of emotions you will eventually self-destruct. You will waste away feeling unloved and misunderstood. This can be devastating to you and to the people around you. You will be like a volcano with hot lava inside that will eventually erupt and destroy anything in its path. This eruption of unexpressed feelings will happen at the most inconvenient time. It will happen when you least expect it and where it will do the most damage – to your love relationship.

Someone has said that the two great capabilities that distinguish man from the lower animals are his thinking and feeling, within a broader range. Yet many people run into difficulty as they try to manage these two great abilities. Some subordinate one to the other; others deny the feeling component except in rare bursts of emotionalism. Many hide and emerge timidly in the emotional range, feeling fearful and anxious lest they reveal the powerful forces pent-up behind some inner dike. There are some that give themselves over to emotionalism and live hedonistic lives, subordination thinking to the demands of their feelings.

Inevitably you will experience nearly the whole range of human emotion – love, anger, frustration, anxiety, fear, hate, jealousy, irritation, tenderness, and all the rest. How do you cope with these feelings productively?

There are three ways to cope with feelings:

  1. Admit them

  2. Accept them as real, and

  3. Then develop ways of handling them.

It is not necessary, useful, or desirable to act out every emotional state. Stormy, negative, or destructive feelings may need to be cushioned and thought out with the help of a minister or counselor. You can learn to wrestle with your own feelings and to decide, on the basis of a priority system of values, not to respond violently to the immediate emotion. You can share your feelings that is, talk about them, describe them to others, without acting them out. For example: You may feel like hitting or cursing a neighbor or loved one. But if you tell that person how you feel, the need for actually hitting or cursing can be diminished.

Whether you act out a feeling would depend on the degree to which the acting out would allow you to be consistent with your most important principles and values. For example: If a father held to the value of loving his wife and children and wanting to see their lives enriched and filled with growth opportunities, it would be a denial of those values if he abused or ridiculed them in a devastating way – even though he was momentarily angry with them.

Showing Your Feelings of Love

It’s not only the strong negative or destructive feelings that concern people, but also the warm, positive love feelings. Some of us learn to hide all negative emotions or keep them bottled up inside, and others learn to smother their feelings of love and affection. There is the old story of the Scotsman who at the funeral of his wife choked, “She was a wonderful woman, and I came close to telling her that once or twice.”

Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof asks his wife, “Do you love me?” After some reflection, she admits she does, and he remarks, “After twenty-five years, it’s nice to know.”

You might find it extremely difficult to express love and affection openly. There may have been a conscious or unconscious family tradition either for warm sharing or for restricted reaction. For the latter, it would be an embarrassing violation of family custom for a son to hug his father or kiss his sister, even though he might want to. It’s not necessary for all families to be openly demonstrative, but families should examine carefully whether they are too restrictive.

You can become more open in your expressions of love – to the delight of others. It’s not too much of a risk to begin to respond to your love feelings more spontaneously and to share them with those you truly cherish.

Let go of your old baggage. Release your anger, resentment and hurt feelings. Forgive yourself and then forgive others. You did the best you could with the knowledge you had at the time. Now set yourself free to have a wonderful flower garden with just a few weeds that can be pulled out and released to the wind. 

Please read our article on how to express your feelings with the name statement