Majority of people spend their life evading their emotions. They compartmentalise their emotions probably for reasons such as it’s an easier route, maybe they would prefer to avoid conflict or sometimes for reasons of inferiority. It’s a defence mechanism that some people hold onto dearly to protect their sanity and in some drastic cases, to wave of suicidal tendencies. It can be a superpower but only temporarily. Contrary to popular belief, our emotions aren’t transient. They hold the power to craft and scar our lives and ideologies if not processed aright. The first step in properly processing your emotions is to recognise that you’re closing yourself off from them.
On that note, here are six signs that you’re compartmentalising your emotions in a rather toxic way.
- Your personality around others contrasts with your personality when you’re alone.
Compartmentalizing your emotions creates a divide between who you think you are and how others see you. Putting up a personality you think would be welcomed by others can be very exhausting. Now this might sound absurd but people do this for valid reasons particularly the need to be a part of a friend group. Perhaps you’re the clown of your friend group in school so probably on days when you’re in low spirits it’s not convenient for you to address your emotions because it’s expectant of you to crack jokes. Anything contrary to this behaviour makes you come off as the ‘party pooper’.
If you avoid expressing yourself, it may feel like you have two separate faces and no one truly knows you. Perhaps you’re not sure yourself who you are.
To know yourself is to love yourself and to welcome in love all the emotions that come with you.Brian McGill
- You distract yourself whenever you start to feel uneasy.
A telltale sign of suppressing our emotions is avoidance. We avoid our emotions probably because we’re not ready to accept the bitter truth of the situation and that’s okay. Besides in the contemporary world we find ourselves in it has become much easier as distractions are all around us and as we hit hurdles in life; disappointment in friendships, failing the test you were pretty confident about or losing a loved one we seek solace in these distractions. You might mindlessly scroll through Instagram, guilty binge watch hours of Bridgerton, play video games, oversleep or engage in self destructive behaviours like drinking or smoking in order to avoid thinking about how you feel. But how long can you run from your emotions?
- You have frequent outbursts.
Perhaps the slightest things irritate you beyond the point where you don’t care to risk your closest relationships by throwing a tantrum. This doesn’t mean you go on throughout the day yelling or crying all over the place. Rather, you’re probably quiet and calm throughout the day but like a ticking bomb you just need contact to set off.
Your outburst over relatively minor issues can be a sign of deeper, more suppressed troubles in your relationships or personal life.
Compartmentalizing your emotions without segregating a specific time of your day to reflect and acknowledge them only makes them more powerful and they come out in chaotic fashion. This is seen especially in bereaved parents or parents who have had a tough day at work. They conceal their anguish and act calm at home in an attempt not to let the pain their feeling rub off on their children but they find themselves easily irritated at minor inconveniences their children do.
- You often feel uncomfortable around highly emotional people.
People often refuse to express their emotions for beliefs which are influenced by their conscience. For instance some people believe boys must not cry as it’s an embarrassing thing to do. This is an example of male emasculation. That said, such people in particular tend to feel uncomfortable around highly emotional people who visibly express their emotions because it can be a trigger. They might struggle with how to react or how to offer comfort to them in their time of distress, especially if emotions hold sort of a stigma and pain for them personally.
- You experience life from a third person perspective.
You’re probably at a get together with your friends, everyone is laughing and joking around but you feel as if you’re observing the fun rather than fully engaging in it. You’re present but you feel distant from everyone else. Intimacy becomes difficult for you and you realise your relationships begin to suffer.
By compartmentalizing your emotions you distance yourself from how you feel and begin to live majority of your life in an imaginative paradox. This takes the joy out of life. It makes not only anger and sadness, harder to express, but also expressing happiness and joy.
- You avoid confrontation and never address the cause of your emotions.
It’s not uncommon to feel powerless over your own life. It becomes difficult to think deeply about your emotions because you have managed to numb yourself out of the pain and as aforementioned although initially it might be okay it’s only temporary. You’d feel a loss of identity gradually until they are properly addressed.You find that you fear any sort of confrontation and you avoid your emotions just like you avoid emotional people. Everyone thinks anger is a momentary thing, but it carries and the longer you suppress it the more angrier you become.
Our emotions shouldn’t be treated as a liability but rather our “first intel in a war” because they’re often a sign that something is wrong and needs fixing.
You can learn to acknowledge your emotions and use them to identify changes that need to be made in your life.
Emotions can get in the way or get you on the way.Mavis Mazhura
Compartmentalizing one’s emotions isn’t something to be frowned upon unless of course the cycle isn’t completed; emotions must always be revisited and acknowledged. That’s the only way we can have full mastery over them and prevent them from overpowering our intelligence; emotional intelligence. Take time to sieve through them one after the other regardless of the painful memories they bring, take time to heal because you deserve a life worth living.
This topic was requested by one of our viewers and I hope it does help you make a decision towards a careful analysis of any unresolved emotions. Did you recognise any of these signs in yourself and how you connect with others?
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