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Suppression vs Expression: An Authentic Path.

Updated: Apr 8

Girl jumping in air

“Suppressing our true desires and needs can lead to feelings of emptiness and disconnection.”

-Dr. Gabor Maté

Have you ever been told to "just get over it", "move on" or "cheer up" when you're feeling really down or upset? In this, the hidden message is to hide emotions away, they are not to be expressed but to be held in. Well, Dr. Gabor Maté, a physician and trauma expert, says that's not the best advice. Instead, he teaches us something quite powerful: it's really important to express our feelings, not just hide them away. He  suggests a more compassionate approach—one that values the expression of our feelings rather than their suppression.

Emotions are profound messages

Imagine your emotions are like messages from your heart. They are profound messages from our inner selves, signalling our deepest needs, desires, and boundaries. Consider anger, a frequently misunderstood emotion which might seem scary or negative, has its place. It's like your personal alarm system, showing you where your boundaries are and how to protect them. But, like any message, once you've read it and understood it, you don't need to keep it forever. It's okay to delete it, or in other words, let that feeling go.

Bottling up our feelings doesn't do us any favours. It can lead to feeling low, getting sick more often, or feeling super anxious. Dr. Maté points out that when we don't connect to how we're feeling, we're missing out on dealing with the real issues. It's kind of like ignoring a splinter in your finger and then wondering why it hurts so much.

Suppressing our feelings can start in childhood. Maté explains that kids are often told only some parts of them are okay, leading to a split within themselves. This split creates a "false self" that tries to fit in and an "authentic self" that is the real them. Kids face a tough choice between feeling close to others (attachment) and being true to themselves (authenticity). Maté believes this struggle can cause a kind of hidden trauma, where people lose touch with their real selves even without facing abuse.

Connecting to self-compassion to embrace and express our true emotions

By embracing self-compassion, we start to acknowledge and embrace our true emotions, learning to express them in healthy ways. This journey also encourages us to develop a habit of genuine self-expression, exploring creativity through mediums like art, writing, music, or dance. Such practices not only deepen our self-awareness but also create pathways for meaningful connections with others.

Expanding on the avenues for self-expression, one popular method is journaling. Journaling offers a profound way to articulate oneself through written words, providing a medium not only for others to understand us but for us to understand ourselves better. This reflective practice enables a dialogue with the self, making it an invaluable tool in the journey of emotional exploration and expression.

In essence, embracing our emotional spectrum as a natural and essential component of our human experience paves the way for a healthier, more fulfilling life. By honouring our emotions and channelling them through creative expression, we can navigate the complexities of life with greater authenticity.

Suppression vs Expression

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