The people of my chosen home country here in the UK are known to have a stiff upper lip;
they hold back on showing their feelings as emotional public displays are discouraged.
We are taught that showing emotions is weak.
Men are scared to be labelled as ‘feminine‘, and women of being seen as hysterical.
But why is important to express our emotions, and how can we get better at it?
‘All pain is unexpressed emotion.’
– Dr. Moshe Feldenkrais
Gabor Mate and Irene Lyon are specialists in explaining how feelings get stored up in our body.
When typically closed people are struggling to stay composed, their lips or hands might tremble.
After a trauma, animals in the wild will shake to get rid of the excess adrenaline.
Humans often do the same, but also when they are trying to avoid showing feelings!
‘Our cages are often cultural.’
– Robert Scaer
From early childhood we are taught to sit still, to go to the bathroom only during break, to eat only at lunch and dinner, to smile when we see our elders and to kiss our parents.
We are conditioned to ignore our impulses.
Often, our physical reactions will feel improper or uncomfortable.
This is why so many feel threatened during exercise too!
A heightened heartbeat and sweaty palms might remind us of all the other times when we were forced to swallow our feelings or face the consequences.
‘When our culture, our conditioning, our cortex,
starts to harm our biology, our autonomic physiology’
then we get into trouble.’
– Irene Lyon
The school of trauma makes it clear that we need to express our emotions.
But what if we stay clear because we explode, have anger management issues or fear being judged? Often it can feel like there’s an internal wall blocking us from talking freely!
In order to heal this blockade, we need to approach it with patience and compassion.
The truth is that all this internalised energy needs to be released.
Gentle movement can do the trick, dancing in your pyjamas alone, screaming into a pillow, exercise or art therapy.
The key is to move and not be stiff and still!
Do you find yourself having trouble showing emotions?
I am working on being more vulnerable. When I am sick or having a bad mental health day, I shield myself from all and do not share my pain with others. That can make others feel like I don’t appreciate them or want their help.
It’s just as important to accept than to give help, so I am mindful of that! How about you?