Suppressing Emotions is Not Very Emotionally Intelligent

It still surprises me that a majority of people I interact with who hear about emotional intelligence, almost instantly dismiss it. Many say that they are already very self-aware and great at controlling their emotions. However, the potential to build self-management skills is dismissed because they confuse control of emotions with suppression.

Suppressing emotions itself has many negative health and psychological effects. When you are suppressing emotions, you are essentially avoiding them. Many people think this is perfectly OK as we should “endure” life. However, if you don’t address your own emotions, you are much more likely to “explode” later on (Hot Air Balloon). This is often the reason why you hear bizarre and horrible stories of an older spouse suddenly killing their partner after 50 years of marriage.

At work, it’s one of the reasons why your relationships and energy towards different people, suffer. People who suppress emotions are often using negative words, or body language, they criticize others and are very likely to be unappreciative. The problem is, they probably don’t know they are doing it.

How Do I Know if I’m Suppressing Emotions?

Here are some signs to look for:

  • Do you try to distract yourself to keep yourself from reacting?
  • Do you avoid talking about the situation because you don’t want to feel any negative emotions?
  • Do you avoid places, people or objects that remind you of negative emotions you don’t want to feel?
  • Do you turn to alcohol, tobacco, or other illicit drugs to help forget any pain?
  • Do you often try to convince yourself that because everyone else seems OK, I should be too?

But I Need to Be Strong…

Many cultures around the world believe that hiding emotions shows you have strength and power, as opposed to displaying emotions which make you appear weak. The answer lies in how you manage and accept those emotions. Unfortunately, simply trying to avoid them never makes them go away and makes it more difficult to manage a similar situation again in the future.

“Suppressing a truth will give it a force beyond endurance”... Kung Fu TV Series

According to research, suppressing emotions can give them a force beyond control. Keep piling them up and the effects on the body also mount. Constantly suppressing emotions increases stress, including high blood pressure, higher incidence of diabetes, and heart disease. Another indicator is that you are more likely to experience stiff joints, and other illnesses due to a weakened immune system.

Other research shows a connection to poor memory, and basic misunderstanding in conversations with other people. One reason this is so is because people who suppress emotions are not aware of the signals they are sending to others. If many people do this, it forms a culture of misunderstandings, lack of common sense, repeated errors and poor social relationships.

Companies recognizing the need for more emotional awareness have identified transparency and truth over harmony as backbone skills that bind people together. This includes being true to your own emotions.

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Gabriele Ciminelli