There are so many things we humans tend to hold back. We have repressed a lot of our emotions, whether they are considered 'good' or 'bad' ones. Sometimes we hold back on expressing our love for fear of being misunderstood, or perhaps thinking the timing is not 'right'. Most commonly, we have been taught to hold back on our 'negative' emotions — fear, anger, sorrow, pain, etc.
As a child, I was often told to squelch those emotions that demonstrated 'weakness'. I held back my tears in order to appear strong. I repressed my anger to be a 'good girl' and 'loving'. Yet, I now realize that holding back anger or any other emotion affects negatively the person who is holding back. The anger I refused to let out stayed locked up inside, fermented, and gave rise to all kinds of poison. Frustrations and anger were withheld, only to explode when I'd 'had enough'. This anger later had to be released through illness, situations where the anger was unleashed at someone or something else (or at myself), or through therapeutic processes.
What happens when we feel anger (consciously or sub-consciously) but want to hide it? Whatever we hold back becomes part of us and gets stored in our body as a tangible manifestation in the form of headaches, tension, pain, illness, ulcers, cancer, arthritis, back pain, and many other physical ailments.
We feel that by holding back on expressing our anger we are doing the 'right' thing and not hurting anyone. Yet we are hurting ourselves -- in more ways that we are conscious of. And as for the other persons, they may need to hear what we have to say, just as much as we need to express it.
Of course, we need to learn how to express our anger or discontent without 'dumping' on the other. We can express ourselves without destroying the other person's sense of self-worth or attacking them emotionally, verbally, or physically. We can communicate from a heart of love, not a heart at war.
Expressing our deepest feelings also applies to expressing feelings of love and appreciation. How many times have we felt gratefulness towards another being, sometimes just for their presence in our life, and failed to express it? That person may really need to hear your words of praise to give them a boost in their own self-esteem. Maybe they are unaware of what you so clearly see in them.
Never assume that the other person knows how much you appreciate them. I have found that at times when I expressed feelings of gratitude and love to others, they were surprised at the way I saw them. If you think it and feel it, then say it.
Our rational mind has been well trained to dissect and analyze. It likes to hold back on acting instinctively and instead question scientifically what is the 'right' action to take. So, we've held our true selves back, and not expressed that inner inspiration to laugh, cry, scream, give a hug, or say a kind word when our first feeling guided us to do so.
Whatever first thought or feeling comes to you is your intuition, or in other words, your divine inspiration. Any other thoughts that follow, i.e. "maybe I shouldn't say that", etc., are only your mind (ego) doubting and questioning, afraid of making a 'mistake'.
The best thing to do is to follow your first instinct -- the one that comes from Love -- which comes as the first feeling or thought. That is your 'God-self'. The universal power of Love guides us towards happiness, and that is why our first instinct -- the one before the "but if" or "what if" or "but maybe" -- is always the one that will bring us true happiness and inner peace.
We can choose to let go of the fear of being wrong, or appearing ridiculous, etc., and act on our feelings. Be true to yourself. Holding back is only postponing the truth and can harm the other as well as ourselves. Holding back is postponing the freedom to be who we really are — loving, truthful children who desire to be happy and free from negativity.
Let go! Express your truth lovingly today! You and your world will be better for it.
A Peace of My Mind: A Therapist's Guide to Handling Anger and Other Difficult Emotions
by Diane M. Berry and Terry J. Berry.
This manual is your complete reference for how to manage your anger so it does not control you! Written in an easy-to-read style, by a husband and wife team with more than 20 years' combined experience teaching people just like you how to practice a few simple skills that will change your life!
Marie T. Russell is the founder of InnerSelf Magazine (founded 1985). She also produced and hosted a weekly South Florida radio broadcast, Inner Power, from 1992-1995 which focused on themes such as self-esteem, personal growth, and well-being. Her articles focus on transformation and reconnecting with our own inner source of joy and creativity.
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