Thursday, 1 July 2021

Acting emotionless and nonchalant harms you, it does not protect you | Editor's Letter

If you repress your emotions, struggle to articulate your feelings, and don't tell a soul when your mental health is crumbling, we know you feel completely alone so here's what we're going to do about it...

Millions of us hide behind masks acting okay or as if we're in control when the reality is everything around us is on fire or going up in flames.

Instead of seeking help many of us act nonchalant, emotionless and deal with our mental health by ourselves. We believe this makes us stronger, however, we're wrong and we've been taught foolishly.

Being nonchalant, someone who is relaxed and doesn't display anxiety is a good thing but acting as if you are in that emotional state when you are not is not protecting you, it's actually harming you and even has a name: Toxic positivity. 

We stay quiet in our feels or repress them entirely because we feel like no one will listen, understand or/and we feel as if we are burdening our loved ones with our problems.

The above, of course, is not true. That is your anxiety and insecurities lying to you as there are people who can help you. Your loved ones, the ones who genuinely adore you would rather you lean on their shoulder than suffer alone, and there are professionals whom you can speak to and I urge you to do, for your sake.

But there's a much darker and disturbing reason why a lot of us hide our emotions altogether - and it's a truth we all need to talk about, as it is the reason so many people who 'seem fine' or 'seemed okay' take their lives or continue suffering alone.

People will say, 'why didn't you tell anyone you were down?', 'why didn't he speak up on his depression?' and the most angering, 'why didn't she tell anyone she was suicidal?' after it is already too late.

I'll tell you why people don't speak up, why they act nonchalant and hide their pain until it consumes them instead... because so many among us thrive watching others drown, are damn right cruel and, on top of this, society has created the backwards narrative that showing emotions makes you weak. Therefore instead we let pride and fear slowly destroy us.

It's ironic really because those who show emotion are not the weakest at all yet it is globally portrayed so. Those who have honed the skills it takes to portray their emotions via setting clear boundaries and bravely asking for help when they need it are actually the strongest among us and to be looked up to, I'd greatly argue.

After thousands of years of portraying silence as the strength to have I think it's about bloody time we wake up, see the harrowing scientific evidence demonstrating the repercussions of repressing emotions and teach how to own our conscious instead.

Asking for help and seeking it is courageous. It's a brave move, not one to be dubbed something as ridiculous as "weak". For it is not, remember that if nothing else.

Not only are those who portray their emotions more mentally intelligent for doing so, it can also add years to your life by getting in control of them - and there are studies and experts to prove it!

Enjoying learning these mental skills and want to discover more? Check out: 

Healing Consultant Daniel Browne, author of "The 8 Paths Of Manifestation" and "The Energy Equation", spoke to VavaViolet Magazine exclusively to break down why acting nonchalant and emotionless can be "very harmful" and why it is best to take charge of your emotions instead.

Browne explained: "Suppressing emotions can negatively affect our health, both mentally and physically. Whether it's sadness, anger, grief, frustration or any other emotion suppressing these can lead to stress and affect things like self-esteem, memory and even blood pressure." 

The Intuitive Business Consultant, who has helped hundreds of businesses and CEOs reach their full potential, noted how there are also some long-term effects of ignoring such emotions, it risks an increase of heart disease and diabetes!

Backing Browne's knowledge, there is a 2013 study by the Harvard School of Public Health and the University of Rochester showing people who bottled up their emotions increased their chance of premature death from all causes by more than 30%, with their risk of being diagnosed with cancer increasing by 70%. 

Browne continued: "I believe that when you do not acknowledge those feelings, they grow stronger. But learning how to deal with our emotions can be challenging, there are millions of tips and tricks which work differently for different people."

One would then ask, 'well, how do I change this? How do I start making a difference in my life so I can feel and express my emotions healthy?'. 

Explaining how healing starts by releasing unexpressed emotions, Browne said: "It takes energy and effort to suppress our emotions. That suppression leads to a disassociation from our true selves and our emotional needs. The root of this is often false beliefs and conditioning  around our emotions and the role they play in life."

"I often find that the root of emotional and psychological issues often stem from trapped and unexpressed emotions. When these are acknowledged or released healing can then occur."

Neuro-linguistic programming, hypnotherapy coach and trainer Rebecca Lockwood, explained how acting nonchalant and emotionless when you are struggling and not acknowledging your real reality is known as toxic positivity.

Lockwood, who is an author and teaches entrepreneurial women the art and science of how the mind works, agreed that as a society we have "become accustomed to toxic positivity without even realising it".

Explaining to VavaViolet Magazine how it has become ingrained as a social norm Lockwood detailed how we do this by glossing over our emotions, and "brushing over it with positive thoughts or positive affirmations" instead of healing. 

On how toxic positivity harms our mental state and has become the bizarre norm of our society, Lockwood said: "When someone is telling us about something negative that has happened we automatically revert to the 'oh it will be ok, think on the bright side' without considering that the other person needs to feel these negative emotions to then move through them. 

"This is especially harmful when we do it with children because it teaches them that we shouldn’t acknowledge the way we feel in situations, even when it is completely normal to feel disappointed, angry or upset. 

"It is important to honour our feelings and emotions and then we can move through them and learn from them rather than brushing over them and just hoping for the best. When we do not honour our feelings and pay attention to the current situation and reality it can cause harm to our mental state and stunt our growth as people because we are not fully appreciating what is really happening, even when it is negative."

What interested me most during my chat with Lockwood, is remember how I said those who control and express their emotions healthily are arguably the strongest and who we should admire? If you disagree with me, the reason I say they are is because they learn from their emotions every, single, time. That's a lot of knowledge and we all know knowledge is power, right? 

And as Lockwood said, we should learn from our emotions, not brush them off as doing so leads to the growth of your self-development.

How we do this is by paying attention to what triggers us instead of reacting etc etc but that's for another article on another day!

Back to the current topic and debate as such, the reason I feel so inclined to talk about this subject going into July is that I will hold my hands up and admit that this is the very thing I struggled with the most until I learnt the skills to escape doing it in therapy in recent years. 

After years of growing up being taught, and proven, that crying in front of others was like bleeding near a shark I wanted to be as emotionless as a brick. I simply didn't want to feel the sadness anymore so I repressed all negative emotions for over a decade and put on what became a daily performance of acting a clown for my peers.

People around me dubbed it a strength, being able to 'keep calm and carry on' so I naively thought it was strong of me but it only broke me in the end - as the experts above warn you - as it takes a big toll out of you.

Did I realise what I was doing was toxic positivity? Obviously not as millions of us don't either but here we are, doing it regardless as we don't tend to know better.

But repressing your emotions and spurting toxic positivity is not clever. It's not strong. It's a lie to yourself and it will bite back. 

And what is there to glorify about that, please? Why are we glorifying something so isolating, so painful? When you do think about it deeply and let the conversation take a pull on your perspective you can start to see it differently. 

Don't get me wrong, unless you are part of my very small inner circle you will not see me cry as I enjoy keeping a private life and that includes my problems, but I will now let all the emotions out in front of those I trust and I let myself feel them too. 

As Lockwood said, repressing emotions massively stunts growth and I'm thankfully realising that and seeing it shift into my conscious as I learn from and feel my emotions instead of sugarcoating them. This includes setting clear boundaries, accepting it's perfectly acceptable to experience negative emotions and then learning from them.

I still agree humour is the best medicine and it always will be, but so is owning your emotions and being able to articulate them. And if you can do the two together, well, you're a comic genius! And who doesn't want to be a comic genius? 

In July we will have a number of articles coming your way on an array of topics not just this one but do expect a few on how to gain control over your emotions, step into your conscious and power, and of course, as always, on how to live more freely and happily. 

Hopefully, if this article has made you realise anything it's that repressing your emotions and acting nonchalant when you're down is not going to help you in the long run and it's certainly not the shield of protection we're led to believe.

Written by VavaViolet's Founder and Editor-in-Chief, Sophie Blackman


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