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One of the worst things we can do for ourselves is suppress our emotions. When we don’t allow our emotions to flow in healthy ways, we create blockages within us that can cause us tremendous amounts of pain. Our emotions are a significant part of who we are, and when we don’t allow ourselves to feel them in genuine ways, we cut ourselves off from our true selves.

We often don’t have healthy ways of expressing our difficult emotions. We don’t process them within ourselves, and we don’t communicate them with other people. When we suppress our sadness, it can build up and contribute to depression. We don’t develop healthy coping skills, and we develop addictive behaviors instead as a way of avoiding our sadness.

When we suppress our anger, it can develop into rage, which can poison us from within, destroying our relationships, our livelihood, everything we’ve built for ourselves. We turn to substances and relationships to try to distract ourselves from our rage, but they don’t help because they can’t heal the rage for us.

Anxiety is a build-up of fearful thoughts. When we suppress our fear, it can morph into all kinds of anxiety disorders, neuroses, phobias and toxic thought patterns. We often don’t address our fears and anxieties, and the more we suppress them, the more control they exert over our lives, dominating our thinking and driving our behaviors.

When we don’t learn to work with our emotions, the coping strategies we choose for ourselves are often unhealthy and self-destructive and develop into mental health issues and addictions.

Here are a couple suggestions on how to stop suppressing your emotions.

Cry when you need to. It can really hurt to cry. Letting it out can feel intensely painful. Keeping it in, however, is so much more damaging in the long run. Don’t hold back the tears, even if it’s awkward or uncomfortable. We’re taught to be ashamed and embarrassed of crying. We instinctively apologize when we cry in front of other people. There is nothing with crying. Let’s support each other and allow each other to cry.

Journal about your feelings. Writing can be very comforting and soothing. It can be therapeutic and can help us to allow our pent-up energy to flow. It can help us to make sense of our emotions, organize them and get more clarity on them.

Communicate. Learn how to talk about your feelings, with loved ones, a support group, friends, therapist, or spiritual guide. Face your fears of being judged, criticized or rejected, and know that self-expression is helpful and beneficial to your wellbeing.

Learning to handle our emotions is an important part of recovery. Call (800) 871-5440 for information on how we can help you.