Hiding emotions of fear, anxiety, guilt, or anger by putting on a façade to the outside in order to convey confidence and self-esteem is not only ineffective, in the long run it can be bad for your health.
We’ve all heard the expression “fake it until you make it.” It sounds good in theory, but in reality, it doesn’t work.
Studies show that the more a person tries to bottle up negative emotions, the stronger the emotions become. Research at The University of Texas at Austin and the University of Minnesota show that repressing emotions can make people more aggressive.
The consequences of that stiff upper lip can be quite serious. A 2013 study by the Harvard School of Public Health and the University of Rochester concluded that suppressing emotions may increase the likelihood of early death. Other research suggests suppressing emotions is associated with an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, and memory loss.
For some, the thought of sharing vulnerabilities with another person may be terrifying. Others may see it as a sign of weakness. By dropping the veil, so to speak, we will start the process of healing. Instead of putting up a good front, the best thing to do is to face those emotions head on and be honest with ourselves. Negative emotions are a natural part of our human experience. We all have flaws. We all make mistakes.
In sex addiction, it’s not uncommon for us to hide what we’ve done to others and what others have done to us. And it’s natural to feel shame or guilt because of what we’ve done or what’s been done to us. You may think it’s easier just to bury the emotions and carry on as though nothing were wrong. The truth is, it takes a lot of energy to suppress negative emotions. Over time, bottling these up and not processing them will have negative consequences both to your physical health and your mental wellbeing. It also distorts us from our true spiritual nature.
We in recovery have gone through a lot. We sure know how to carry our heavy burdens for a long time. If you’ve read this far, something we wrote resonated with you. You know the best thing you can do is to let those intense emotions out. Talk to a friend, a sponsor, your therapist, your partner, or start writing it all down in a journal. Easier said than done, we know, but we encourage you to take that first step!