Leading with Grit & Gratitude


Jen Guidry

I Didn't Know How to Have Feelings

dysregulated nervous system Jun 03, 2024

The Hidden Toll of Suppressed Emotions on Our Well-being

In many cultures and environments, expressing emotions is often seen not as a natural human response but as a sign of weakness. From a young age, individuals are taught to suppress their feelings, a practice that is especially prevalent in environments where emotional expression is discouraged or outright penalized. This blog post explores the complex journey of suppressed emotions, from their roots in survival mechanisms to their long-term impact on our mental and physical health, particularly focusing on the development of chronic stress, anxiety, depression, and the resulting dysregulation of the nervous system.

The Survival Mechanism of Suppressing Emotions

Suppressing emotions is a common response in situations where expressing feelings is not safe or accepted. This behavior can start as a protective mechanism, helping individuals navigate through challenging, sometimes threatening environments. Initially, it might seem beneficial, offering short-term relief from conflict or external judgment. However, this temporary shield can evolve into a permanent barrier, one that not only distances us from our emotions but also from our true selves.

The Long-term Consequences

While the immediate effects of suppressing emotions might appear to be positive, the long-term consequences tell a different story. Chronic stress, anxiety, and depression can all stem from this emotional suppression. These are not just fleeting emotional states but indicators of a deeper issue within the nervous system. A dysregulated nervous system, stuck in a constant state of alert or numbness, struggles to return to a baseline of calm and balance after stress. This ongoing state of dysregulation can lead to a myriad of health issues, both mental and physical, as the body remains in a heightened state of stress response without relief.

Understanding Nervous System Dysregulation

The nervous system is designed to handle stress in short bursts, returning to a state of equilibrium once the stressor has passed. However, when emotions are consistently suppressed, the nervous system remains in a perpetual state of alertness. Over time, this can exhaust the body, leading to symptoms such as fatigue, insomnia, digestive issues, and a weakened immune response. Moreover, the emotional aspect of this dysregulation can manifest as mood swings, irritability, and an overall sense of being overwhelmed by circumstances that previously felt manageable.

The Path to Healing

Acknowledging and addressing suppressed emotions is the first step towards healing. This process involves becoming aware of the emotions we've been pushing aside and understanding the impact they've had on our lives. Techniques such as mindfulness, journaling, and therapy can be invaluable tools in this journey. These practices not only help in recognizing suppressed emotions but also in safely expressing and processing them, allowing the nervous system to return to its natural state of balance.

Suppressing emotions may seem like a convenient short-term solution, but its long-term effects on our mental and physical health can be profound. By understanding the impact of emotional suppression and taking steps to address it, we can begin to heal our nervous system and move towards a healthier, more balanced state of being. The journey towards emotional health is not always easy, but it is a deeply rewarding process that leads to greater self-awareness, resilience, and overall well-being.

If you find yourself struggling with the effects of suppressed emotions, remember that you're not alone. Seeking support through therapy, coaching, or personal development courses can provide you with the tools and understanding needed to navigate this complex journey. Embrace the path to emotional health and discover the profound impact it can have on your life.

Jen Guidry is the #1 executive coach for women and female loan officers. She is also a best-selling author who helps her clients find life-balance, overcome past trauma, and achieve high-level success. Follow Jen on LinkedIn, Instagram, YouTube and Facebook to continue to get great insight and inspiration.