When something traumatic, frightening or even just really embarrassing happens in our life we tend to do the British thing and “keep a stiff upper lip” This generally means that we attempt to push our emotions related to whatever happened to one side, think about something else or try to forget the event altogether. We may even believe that we have succeeded in our attempt to do this, whereas, in actual fact, all we have really done is to store these emotions somewhere in our body ie. we have temporarily pulled the head off the weed so to speak. We think it has gone, but the root is still there and before we know it, up it pops again
At least with the weed, it is relatively easy to identify because it appears in the same place. The problem with doing this with our emotions is that we cannot easily predict where and when they are going to pop up next.
As we continue suppressing our emotions and storing them in our bodies we end up creating a metaphorical box of these stored /suppressed emotions. Having created this box, we now have to ensure that its lid is kept tightly closed. This becomes increasingly more difficult each time we add to it, requiring more of our energy in order to achieve this.
These emotions do not just disappear purely because we have shut them down. They continue to influence our thoughts, feelings and behaviors most often in negative or self-defeating ways.
We may believe that we have succeeded in taming these unwanted emotions but in reality, all we have created is a tinderbox for ourselves. A tinderbox, just waiting for an emotion which matches one of these pent-up ones in this box then, bang!! We explode.
We find ourselves more inclined to overreact to situations which do not warrant such a severe reaction. (flying off the handle or having a panic attack or even just breaking down and crying our eyes out for example) More often than not, this is the result of being ambushed by the accumulation of these trapped emotions, and because we are unable to deal with this sudden surge of emotion and the negative, self-defeating thoughts which accompany them, we end up reacting in an extreme or inappropriate manner. We start the whole process off again as the event just described, itself becomes an emotionally loaded or traumatic event.
If left unaddressed, this downward cycle simply continues, in many instances becoming more severe. As a result, it can seriously interfere with our ability to enjoy everyday life. Relationships with friends and family members can become strained and many of the activities which we once did without a seconds thought, become increasingly more difficult or impossible to do.