Unbearable Emotions

Unbearable Emotions

Written in Chinese originally

I think most people, no matter gender and age, should have experienced emotions that they seem to be unable to bear, but most of the times, we are not sure whether our emotions are to be suppressed or to be released. Because emotions are very complex, it’s the combination of various physical and psychological responses of the individual under the situation. Many things are involved, including physiological state, facial expressions, subjective feelings and your thoughts, even the reaction which shows up because of this emotion is also in it. Super complicated, right? Give you an example, and you can understand.
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你覺得呢?該釋放還是要壓抑?x

My best friend had a car accident the other day. With the recent minor outbreak of local cases of covid-19, the government has restricted the number of the accompanying people and visits to the hospital. No matter how much I worry about my friend, I can’t go to the hospital to help take care of her. I can only express my concerns through messages and phone calls.

Unlike the other friend A who panicked and called me the first time, I was calm. Until the same day I made a video call with my boyfriend before going to bed, his words “Are you okay?” broke my emotional walls. I started to collapse, crying uncontrollably. By the afternoon of the next day, my thoughts had been lingering worries and sadness, even if my mind told me that it would not help to let negative emotions surround me. I knew it was not a way to continue like this, so I called friend A, and she said she wanted to see the sea.

In the end, we sat beside the trail of Waimushan, quietly looking at the sea, silently letting time pass, and the overwhelming feelings began to soothe down.

Now we go back and analyze, what are the various components of emotion. When I know my friend had a car accident, this incident stimulated my physical state. I felt my fists clenched, my heart beating faster, and my voice rushed. I told myself, “Since she is already in the hospital and the time for the operation has been arranged, I can rest assured!” So I calmed down. My thoughts has reduced the intense anxiety a lot. However, not knowing the actual situation of my friend still made me feel scared. In addition, the memory of meeting my friend happily the day before yesterday made me very sad. This kind of subjective feelings are fear mixed with sadness. Afterwards, my boyfriend noticed that my facial expression was a fake smile, as if he’s noticed something that I was trying to hide, and then my emotional walls finally collapsed.

Ok. As you can guess, I suppressed my emotions from the beginning, and then I released my emotions by crying, but I couldn’t adjust my feelings. I was trapped in the quagmire of negative emotions. I couldn’t adjust my emotions until I used the right methods to cheer myself up.

Therefore, suppressing your emotions is not good, and excessive release of emotion is not correct either. A book written by a French psychiatrist: La Force des emotions, explained the following facts: if you are not accompanied by a professional psychotherapist, such as in a personal counseling or group counseling session, and other people are supporting, and you just violently thump the pillow, shouting out bad words, or complain with friends full of anger. Such a emotional release is not entirely a good one. Because it will make it more difficult for you to calm down, and your blood pressure will rise, which will affect your physical and mental health, and you will not be able to adopt a different perspective to look at the things that made you angry.

Or when you are sad, you wrap yourself in the blanket and cry really hard (just like me the other day), this is not a good way. Have you seen Disney’s movie inside out? Sadness is usually not likable and it’s not encouraged by the society, its significance lies in that when we show our vulnerable side to others, it will warm our relationship with others and bring us closer to each other. This also means that if I cry so hard and I don’t let anyone know, then I just immerse myself in grief, and then I will become more and more uncomfortable. Or, it is not a good thing if I shed tears in front of someone who is impatient to see someone cry.

This is not easy, because at the moment when people are triggered and have intense emotions, they may be:

Only aware a little bit of the emotion, or even feeling nothing at all. In severe cases, it will be a bit like dissociation.
Knowing that you have emotions at the moment, but your mind tells yourself that such emotions are not necessary, you either are forcing yourself to stop the emotions, or you choose not to express emotions.

However, through writing a diary, reading, or receiving psychological counseling services, you can increase and stimulate your emotional awareness, and then you can keenly perceive your emotional and physical feelings, and think about what you were doing and what were on your mind when the thing triggered emotions happened. And you can try to regulate your emotions, instead of being controlled by your emotions. Then you can experience the richness that emotions add to life. Just like me, with the sound and smell of the sea, my sorrow was faded away and more memories were created.

References:

理性的情緒化 精神科醫師拆解七種支配生活的基本情緒 作者:佛朗索瓦.勒洛爾, 克里斯托夫.安德烈;譯者: 王資

心理學導論(二版) 作者: Susan Nolen-Hoeksema, Barbara L. Fredrickson, Geoffrey R. Loftus, Christel Lutz;編譯:危芷芬

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