Avoiding or Numbing Your Emotions Doesn’t Work

by Patty Sherry, author of Share Your Love Story, a blog about life, self-empowerment, inspiration, and love.


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Avoiding or numbing your emotions doesn’t work, not in the long run. I know this first hand from my own experiences. Still, there are really just days that I sure wish it did.
Who really wants to feel “negative emotions”?
It can be really hard to look that mirror.


I’m pretty aware of my emotional buttons and who or what pushes them. When it comes to what triggers me emotionally, I’ve become more and more willing to take that hard look in the mirror at myself, and to allow myself to feel what ever it is I am feeling.  Sometimes however, it just plain sucks to do this! The frying pan feels a little too hot and painful, so I seek the comfort of some tender loving avoidance instead.
In other words I avoid how I feel, I pretend, distract myself, numb, run away, hide, try and just let go….say,  ”It doesn’t matter anyway.”
To put it more bluntly, I bullshit myself about what is really going on inside me in regard to the situation. I dare say that if you find yourself avoiding your own painful emotions in any of these ways, you may be bullshitting yourself a tiny bit too.
I’m not here to say avoidance is a bad thing, because clearly I, you, we all tend to at times, avoid rather than want to face what is painful. I’ve tried to think positive and look on the bright side of many things. Sometimes thinking positive works, but many times it doesn’t, I simply can’t.
Avoiding your emotions doesn’t work, not in the long run.
I”ll share with you some of my insights about the subject:

FACT: When I avoid how I really feel about a person or situation those feelings ALWAYS pop back up. It’s like a garden hose with a kink in it, sooner or later that running water bursts a hole and spews all over the place. Have you ever felt like you were biting your tongue with someone or swallowing something that did not feel so good? Then you know what I mean here.
I find that if I especially feel angry or sad, if I avoid coming out and admitting, (even just to myself) that I am angry or sad then sooner or later my anger or sadness will spurt out at someone. Unfortunately often it is at some innocent bystander, like a sales clerk, a telephone operator, or some random driver. I wind up taking my frustrations out on them, and many times feeling bad that I did!
Or  I argue with the person I’m sad or angry with and that argument  is usually about something insignificant such as: “You used the last of the cream for the coffee, that’s why I’m so miserable!”

FACT: When I avoid my emotions I find that I tend to repeat the same patterns and situations only with different names and faces.
If you have ever been in a relationship and ended it, have you ever noticed that someone else exactly like your previous partner is waiting in line  to take their place, and there you are having those same arguments and issues yet again?

FACT: I can pretend that a situation or person does not bother me, but my body never lies about how I really feel.
My body experiences sensations of stomach aches, head aches, insomnia, and fatigue when I avoid or try to numb my emotions. There were times in my life when a constant stomach ache felt “normal”.

FACT: When I numb myself to the bad stuff, over time I numb myself to the good emotions as well.
I really did not realize just how much I actually had numbed myself to the good stuff, but I actually lost a certain sense of pleasure in life. This was not an overnight thing, but rather gradual. I suppose to the body, numbing is numbing,  good or bad, the body does not differentiate.  To my delight, it did reverse itself.
As I become more open to face my painful emotions rather than avoid them, what also happens is that I become more open to feel my pleasure again. I feel it in so many ways! I didn’t realize how much these pleasure sides of me had been affected until I started to experience this new and heightened sense of emotional and physical pleasure. When I feel love or joy, I feel it more intensely now. Even my sense of taste, smell, and touch intensifies in new and wonderful ways. I can best describe it as a huge wave of orgasmic emotional and physical goodness. Yes, it does feel that good!

FACT: When I don’t try to fight, fly, numb, hide, or suppress what I feel, and I simply acknowledge and accept it, I shift.
Every time I simply admit what it is I am feeling, I do feel a sense of relief! When I When I allow myself to say,” I’m angry damn it!”  ”I’m sad damn it!” It is a start toward change. I can feel an ease in my own recognition and in just letting that emotion out. It’s a bit like throwing up, sometimes I don’t feel so good as it’s happening, but once it’s out I do feel better.

Avoidance is something I’ve learned, and even perhaps a natural instinct inside me.
Pulling my hand from a hot stove keeps me from getting burned, it’s a natural reflex. I’ve also learned that it is good to be strong and to keep a stiff upper lip. I’ve been told that crying is only for babies. I’ve been told that being too emotional is a sign of weakness. I have many beliefs around the subject. Society does too.
The key for me has been to discover which beliefs no longer work, and to choose something that does.
It may not always be comfortable or my choice to shout out to the world, ” I’m angry! or “I’m sad!” but if I can’t be honest with myself?? How can I expect to change?
I know that jumping into a shit pool of painful emotions might not be pretty, but more and more I’m diving in and taking that swim. I know that the more honest and free I am with myself, the more free, honest, and true my relationships with others will be.
I enjoy that kind of freedom!
 

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