Why might I not express my emotions?

“We cannot selectively numb emotions, when we numb the painful emotions, we also numb the positive emotions.”

Brene Brown

We might wish to show emotions but often they can be held back. THis might be because we don’t want to create conflict with another person if we showed how we truly felt. Here’s a list of reasons – which ones do you do, and which ones do your partner or even boss show?

    You Partner
Conflict Phobia You are afraid of angry feelings or conflicts with people. You may believe that people with good relationships shouldn’t fight or argue. You may also believe that the people you care about would be hurt and couldn’t take it if you told them how you felt or what was really on your mind.    
Emotional Perfection


You believe that you shouldn’t have irrational feelings like anger. jealousy, depression, or anxiety. You think that you should always be rational and in control of your emotions. You are afraid of being exposed as weak and vulnerable. You believe that people will look down on you if they find out how you really feel.    
Fear of disapproval and rejection You are so terrified of rejection and ending up alone that you’d rather swallow your feelings’ and put up with some abuse than cake the chance of making anyone angry with you. You are afraid that people would not like you if you expressed your own ideas and feelings.    
Passive-Aggressive  You hold your hurt and angry feelings inside instead of sharing them openly and honestly.    


You feel convinced that your relationship cannot improve no matter what you do, so you give up. You feel others are just too stubborn and insensitive to change. This acts as a self-fulfilling prophecy.    
Low self- esteem You believe that you aren’t entitled to express your feelings or ask others for what you want. You think you should always please other people and meet their expectations.    


You believe that you have the right to say precisely what you think and feel when you are upset. You may feel that any change in the way you communicate will sound phony and ridiculous.    


You believe that other people should know how you feel and what you want without your having to express yourself directly. This gives you a perfect reason to hold your feelings inside and feel resentful because people don’t seem to care    
Martyrdom  You are afraid to admit that you’re angry, because you don’t want to give anyone the satisfaction of knowing they’ve upset you. You take enormous pride in controlling your emotions and suffering silently.    
Need to solve problems When you have a conflict with someone, you go around in circles trying to solve the problem instead of sharing your feelings openly and hearing how the other person feels.    

(David Burns, Feel Good Handbook)

Emotional Numbness

“Emotional Numbness can be a sense
that you have lost your identity through the trauma”

(Sheehan, 1994)

It is one way that the unconscious mind responds to overwhelming emotional pain”

(Herbert, et al., 2008)

(Kennerley, 2000) You can feel emotionally numb as a workaholic – who gets tired and stressed by overwork but continues to take on too much. You ‘avoid’ feeling by keeping busy, distracted, using food, or drugs to numb the emotions. As you tail off these potentially damaging behaviours then more emotions will surface (which can be painful). 



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