“We try so hard to hide everything we’re really feeling from those who probably need to know our true feelings the most. People try to bottle up their emotions, as if it’s somehow wrong to have natural reactions to life.” ? Colleen Hoover
Everyone represses and hides their feelings every now and again, especially when we’re feeling sad.
“There are many different reasons that we may endeavor to hide, or disguise, the emotional pain that comes in the wake of negative beliefs about ourselves evoked by a particular person or situation. But what they have in common is that they’re all fear-induced,” says clinical psychologist Leon F. Seltzer.
While we may not realize it, there are things that happen to us when we focus on hiding our feelings rather than dealing with them outright. In fact, repressed feelings may resurface in ways we least expect, especially through our behavior.
11 Things That Happen When You Hide Your Feelings (That You May Not Realize)
1. Taking care of others
While this may sound like a good thing, it can come at a great cost to your own emotional well-being. When you’re feeling low and depressed, it may feel easier to deal with other people’s problems that your own. Unfortunately, this can cause you to extend more emotional labor that you’re capable of giving out, and can make you feel even more worn out, tired and depressed.
2. Disappearing from the lives of people who matter
Every so often, you may find that you retreat from the lives of your friends and families for long periods of time – days, or weeks. You stop contacting them and stay within your own, quiet barrier. This is something that happens when we’re forced to face our emotions before we’re ready to do so. This happens when our emotions stay hidden. Instead of facing them, we retreat from situations that force us to do so.
3. Constantly staying busy
Perhaps you find that you’re more susceptible to facing your emotions when you have downtime. This can prompt you to keep yourself busier than normal. You may take on another job, or be constantly planning outings with friends and family in order to keep yourself busy. Without having a moment to yourself, you’re able to ignore the emotions that you’re keeping hidden.
4. “I’m fine!”
You may find this placating phrase come out of your mouth more and more when you’re repressing your emotions. Claiming that everything is all well and good, even when it isn’t, is a way to push people away so you don’t have to face your feelings. After all, if no one knows that you’re not doing well, you don’t have to admit it even to yourself.
As Jim Morrison pointed out, “The most important kind of freedom is to be what you really are. You trade in your reality for a role. You trade in your sense for an act. You give up your ability to feel, and in exchange, put on a mask. There can’t be any large-scale revolution until there’s a personal revolution, on an individual level. It’s got to happen inside first.”
5. Start developing new anxieties
“I explain that, many times, people learn to hold in disturbing emotions such as sadness, anger, or hurt. So as adults, when any of these repressed feelings start to come to the surface, an internal alarm goes off that “dangerous emotions are about to erupt.” Thus, they feel anxious,” says licensed psychotherapist Becki Hein.
Therefore, even if you’re ignoring your emotions, you may still find that they find other ways to manifest in the form of new anxieties that weren’t there before. Perhaps you find it hard to leave the house, or have trouble getting together socially when people you were once entirely comfortable around.
6. Start feeling false positivity
Despite feeling miserable, you may find that you’re still able to put a self-deprecating humor and false-positivity on all of the things going wrong in life. While this may seem like a good thing, the lack of real positivity can make keeping up this act particularly draining.
7. Constant need for control
You always plan ahead so that every second of your day is under your control. You leave no time for surprise or spontaneity because it would possibly force you to confront the feelings that you’re keeping locked away. You may find that you hate any down time that allows you to sit and think about how you’re feeling. So, instead, you would rather have all of your days planned out so you know exactly what’s going to happen.
8. Seeking bad relationships
These relationships aren’t always abusive, but they can be in some ways. Rather, the core is seeking out relationships with people who are wrong for you. This keeps you from having to face any kind of emotional intimacy that would require you to be real and honest with your partner or yourself, so you can keep your emotions under tight lock and key.
9. Everything becomes a joke
Even if you’re feeling like you’re drowning in your sadness, you’re somehow able to turn this into a joke. Laughing at your own pain becomes a way to brush it off, rather than dealing with it. It’s a defense mechanism that allows you to both keep your emotions hidden away while also holding people who want to help at arm’s length.
10. Start presenting a tough exterior
When you repress or hide your emotions, you may find that it’s harder to express the good ones, too. This causes you to show off a more tough exterior. This can cause people to stay distant from you, even when you need them to be there for you. You may start to come off like nothing bothers you, even when you’re hurting deeply inside.
11. Sadly, the positive emotions suffer
The thing about locking away your emotions means that you may start to lock away even the good ones, as well. When you refuse to let yourself feel sadness or grief, you may find that you’re unable to express joy, as well.
You may not realize it at first, but there are plenty of things that happen to us when we hide our feelings that expose how we really feel deep down. If you’ve ever found yourself doing these things, you may need to look into how hiding your emotions has affected your behavior.
“… if we truly want to make others more attuned to our vulnerable feelings, we need to manifest them physically and express them verbally,” adds Seltzer.