Emotions Are Like a Boomerang

I have a metaphor I like to use when discussing feelings and emotions. Emotions are like a boomerang.

Our emotions can be very powerful. So powerful that they override common sense and logic. Our emotions (or rather our physiological response to them) can make us literally sick.

According to a report, the “effects of consistent emotion suppression include increased physical stress on your body, including high blood pressure, increased incidence of diabetes and heart disease. … Finally, men and women who avoid emotions, especially negative ones, are more likely to experience high anxiety and depression in their lifetime” (Emotion Suppression: Effects on Mental and Physical Health, MySahana).

Emotional upset or fear can cause an increase in the amount of cortisol released into our bodies, which in turn slows the growth of some cells and also suppresses our immune system. Physical illness plus a suppression of our immune system? Our feelings can literally kill us.

What do people tend to do with negative or unwanted feelings? They tend to push them down. They avoid them as much as possible. Some people are so adept at avoiding negative feelings that they literally forget bad memories and run from circumstances that trigger those memories. Regardless how this avoidance behavior might keep us “comfortable” in the short term, the fact is that this avoidance isn’t healthy.

Psychologists will tell you that repressed emotions cause continued harm. What’s more, emotions and feelings that aren’t dealt with will almost assuredly resurface in the future. And the likelihood is that they will resurface at least as strong as when you first felt them and at the most inopportune times.

Check out my video for more about how emotions and feelings are like a boomerang.

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