03 Aug Bottling up emotions…
The image that in my mind illustrates why bottling up emotions isn’t helpful, is one of an overflowing bottle. A bottle is a limited container. It can hold only a finite amount of liquid until its contents begins to spill out.
When you put a lid on that overflowing bottle, when the contents are highly charged, there is a risk that the bottle will burst.
Feelings are no different. As we negotiate life’s challenges and bumps, we pour more and more feelings into our “feelings bottles”.
The difficulties emerge when our bottles are filled to the brim with feelings that are highly charged. Sometimes, we use short term strategies (taking medications, prescription or otherwise, or having a glass of wine) that might seem helpful in the short term, but which lose their effectiveness or are counter productive in the long term. A glass of wine or popping a pill can help you unwind at the end of the day, but if it becomes your sole means of coping with sustained stress or trauma, one glass easily becomes two which becomes a bottle, and you risk the drink becoming its own problem.
When our coping techniques fail us, we not only risk relying on unhelpful or damaging strategies, we also fall prey to other emotional challenges such depression or anxieties. Recent studies also suggest that bottled up feelings are related to health related issues like heart attacks and asthma.
Talking is like a slow release valve or, to continue our metaphor, rather than bottling up emotions, it siphons off the feelings from our bottle, to keep them from tumbling over or exploding. Talking not only can help you feel immeasurably better, but talking in therapy is about helping you feel better in a lasting way. In the safe and confidential setting of psychotherapy, you can develop strategies for dealing with challenging scenarios in your life, you can explore the same patterns that keep repeating themselves that make you unhappy, and you can gain insight into aspects of your history or self that are illuminating.
If you want to try unbottling your emotions, I would be happy to meet you for a no commitment session where you can try it for yourself.
Don’t wait for your feelings bottle to explode.