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Why suppressing feelings can make you sick and unhappy

Suppress feelings
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Reading time: 16 Minutes

When you start to suppress your feelings, you start to lose the connection to yourself. At some point there is only emptiness. We cannot selectively suppress feelings. We cannot suppress anger, fear, powerlessness, sadness or worthlessness and allow love and joy. That doesn't work.

Your nervous system is under constant stress when you suppress your feelings

When you suppress emotions, you are constantly in fight or flight mode, which means the sympathetic nerve cord of the autonomic nervous system is constantly activated. 

When your system decides that fight or flight is no longer sufficient to handle the situation, the posterior branch of the parasympathetic nervous system is unconsciously activated. You go into a kind of dead center mode. You withdraw socially, are introverted, shy, depressed

You put your emotional hurts in a dark cellar in your house and lock it up

You can imagine that you are a house. In this house there is a dark cellar. Everything you don't want to feel, you put in this dark cellar and close the door.

This gives you the feeling of being in control.

In reality, however, this cellar content controls your entire life and is knocking on your cellar door from the inside all the time.

Do you feel that?

What all ended up in your basement?

  • Your anger?
  • Your fear?
  • Loss of control?
  • Your insecurity?
  • Your powerlessness?
  • Your feeling of worthlessness?
  • Not feeling good enough?
  • Your shame?
  • Your love?
  • Your zest for life?
  • Your voice?
  • Your self-expression?
  • Your self-confidence?
  • His self-confidence?
  • Your authenticity?
  • Your self-worth?
  • Your self-love?
  • Your potential?
  • Your basic trust?
Suppress feelings
Do you feel your basement?

What happened inside you when you were emotionally hurt

The day you learned as a child that the world, or maybe even your family, was not a safe place, and you began to suppress your feelings, you not only split off the emotional hurt from you, but also the part of you that was hurt.


  • You were never believed as a child
  • you were never listened to when you said something as a child
  • You were often criticized
  • You were made small
  • You were ignored
  • You grew up in a dysfunctional family system

you suppress the associated feelings of powerlessness, anger, worthlessness, fear of rejection. You put them in your basement.

But beyond that, you're also splitting off your voice, your self-worth, your self-expression, your self-confidence, your authenticity, and putting it in your dark basement as well.

In your dark cellar are not only the "negative" feelings, there are also the parts of you that you long for all the time!
Your self-love, your self-worth, your potential have not disappeared, you have only lost access to them. They are in your dark cellar.

Are you ready to go to your basement?

I'm going with you in the Emotional Release sessions in your basement. You are safe now. You are no longer alone. I take you by the hand and we go into your basement.

Feelings are body sensations that just want to flow through your body

Feelings and emotions are simply energy in motion. E-motion. Energy in motion that wants to flow through the body.

They are body sensations that rush through our body. However, if we suppress feelings and emotions, we stop this flow of energy. The feeling literally gets stuck inside us.

However, feelings do notdisappear when we repress them, they are stored in the body tissues as cell memories. And as such, they affect you all the time.

If you repress your feelings, you get stuck in permanent emotional stress. Your nervous system is unconsciously on alert all the time.

As a study now proves, the suppression of feelings and emotions can lead to complaints and diseases. Psychoneuroimmunology, deals precisely with the connection between suppressed emotions and diseases.

Do you have therapy-resistant or unexplained complaints?

What do you not want to feel deep down?

Why we suppress emotions and feelings

  1. We were conditioned as children that feeling emotions is not desirable.
  2. We were left emotionally alone as a child when we were overwhelmed by strong feelings. Suppressing the strong feelings was our survival strategy.

We learn as a child that feeling emotions is not desired

We are conditioned as a child by our environment, by our parents, in kindergarten, at school, by our friends, by society, etc. in a way that we start to repress our feelings.

We are conditioned to adapt

This starts right when we are born. As a baby, we interact with our parents' faces. We do everything we can to make them smile. Smiling means approval. Approval means survival. No smiles means rejection. As a child, rejection means death. We develop fears. Fear of rejection.

If we are not what is expected of us, what happens to us?

When we receive our parents' approval, we know that we are loved, that we are safe, that we will survive. Therefore, as a child, we develop the survival strategy of wanting to please our parents and other people in order to gain their approval. As a child, our survival depends on our parents.

We learn to do everything to please those around us.

We are starting to adapt.

Our parents say to us:

  • Don't cry!
  • That's not so bad after all.
  • Do not be afraid.
  • Don't be a coward.
  • Nothing happened.
  • An Indian knows no pain.
  • You're already a big boy.
  • Boys don't cry.
  • Big girls do not make such a fuss
  • Don't be such an anger button

These or similar sentences, many of us have heard as children. We were made to understand that what we are experiencing emotionally is wrong. We start to suppress what we are feeling right now. We want to please our parents. At any cost. Our survival depends on it.

Parents can only pass on the emotional maturity they themselves possess

This is not to be understood as an indictment of parents, for parents can only pass on to their children the emotional maturity that they themselves have learned and experienced from their parents.

Even if you grew up sheltered and materially well provided for, but had an emotionally cold mother who was emotionally absent because she repressed her own emotional hurts and feelings as self-protection, this has had a massive impact on you as a child and your emotional experience.

Be the person who breaks the cycle of intergenerational hurt

When parents repress their feelings, they unconsciously teach this to their children. I therefore invite you to become aware of how you speak to your children and how you deal with them on an emotional level.

How do you talk and act with your children?
Are they allowed to be who they want to be or do you squeeze them into a box?
Do your children feel safe with you?
Are you emotionally available to them when they are overwhelmed by strong feelings?

Are you saying to your children the words you longed for as a child?

What if your child's behavior is a survival strategy to cope with their repressed feelings?
Are you showing your children that it is okay to feel feelings?
Or are you yourself overwhelmed by your children's feelings, or do the feelings touch something deep inside you that scares you?
What repressed feelings do your children trigger in you?
Be the person who breaks this intergenerational cycle.
Be theperson who stops repressing their feelings and allows their children to feel.
Be the person who is emotionally there for your children.

Suppressing feelings as self-protection

We suppress our feelings as self-protection because we have lost access to how to feel strong emotions in a healthy way.
We often develop a fear of feeling the emotions, especially the deep feelings like anger, fear, sadness, shame, worthlessness. These feelings become a "no-go zone." We start to suppress these emotions and feelings because they overwhelm us, because we are afraid to feel them.

The three stages we go through before we suppress feelings out of self-protection

  1. As a baby, you felt emotions in a healthy way and they rushed through you within seconds or a few minutes.
  2. You are overwhelmed by strong feelings.
  3. You become emotional dust.

Feel like little children

Watching babies and very young children, you can see that one minute they are crying, the next minute they are laughing. The emotions just flow through them. That's a healthy way to feel emotions. They rush through you in a matter of seconds.

We start to suppress feelings - for fear of being overwhelmed by pain

There were those moments in your life when you were so overwhelmed by emotional pain, you felt completely at the mercy of it, trapped in the situation and there was no one there to catch you emotionally.

Perhaps your parents were simply emotionally unavailable to you, perhaps they simply used parenting methods that do not meet the emotional needs of young children, perhaps they were the ones who hurt you so much emotionally.

Maybe you don't remember it anymore either. Because it was too painful, you locked the memory away as self-protection, put it in your dark cellar.

Emotion dustiness is a trauma reaction

Suppressing feelings to the point of numbness is a trauma response, your survival strategy, a protective mechanism your subconscious uses as self-protection when fight, flight or people pleasing no longer suffice.

If you were too emotionally overwhelmed as a child, the posterior branch of the vagus nerve was activated in your autonomic nervous system, you withdrew socially, you no longer felt your body, you dissociated, you were no longer in the here and now, your face became expressionless, your eyes lost their sparkle, you went into a kind of rigidity, possibly became depressed.

This is an unconscious process that served your self-protection because you were completely overwhelmed emotionally.

Why it is worse to feel nothing than to be overwhelmed by feelings

When you are overwhelmed by strong feelings, you still feel. However, if you are overwhelmed too much and may have experienced this as a child over a long period of time, you will eventually make your body feel dust - out of self-protection.

Want help with your everyday emotional life?

In my impulse letter I send you short tips, exercises and help around freeing yourself from suppressed feelings for self-help as well as the dates for my trauma-sensitive online group coaching. 

And then there is only inner emptiness

You don't feel anything anymore.

You don 't feel strong feelings anymore, you don't feel anything anymore, you don 't feel yourself either.

Also no joy, no love.

Only inner emptiness.

Suppress feelings

Repressed feelings can cause physical and psychological symptoms

Repressed feelings get stuck in your body. They look for their place. In muscles, organs, bones, connective tissue, blood vessels, nerves, glands and other body structures. This is different for each individual.

Therefore, repressed feelings can cause all sorts of different physical symptoms and mental disorders, such as.

Physical symptoms

  • Complaints resistant to therapy
  • Unexplained discomfort, pain, or illness of any kind
  • Inner restlessness
  • Deep exhaustion
  • Muscle tension all over the body
  • Allergies
  • Impaired immune system
  • Sleep disorders
  • Pine presses
  • Psychosomatic complaints

Psychological symptoms

  • Anxiety disorder and panic attacks
  • Depression and burnout
  • There is only inner emptiness
  • You are driven by negative gyrations of thoughts
  • dysregulated nervous system, you are in permanent survival mode
  • You have lost the connection to yourself
  • You are in a kind of emotional rigidity

If you have any physical or psychological symptoms or complaints, please be sure to get them checked out by a doctor!

However, repressed feelings and emotions do not necessarily cause physical or psychological symptoms, but can be expressed in a variety of ways , such as unhealthy behavior patterns.

Are depressions repressed feelings?

In my experience, repressed feelings play a very central role in depression. Depression is a survival strategy that your system has unconsciously established because strong feelings have overwhelmed you for too long. 

We cannot selectively suppress feelings. If we suppress hopelessness, anger, sadness, fear, worthlessness or other strong feelings, we automatically suppress joy, love, gratitude.

Depression is the final stage in the suppression of feelings.

Depressed people no longer feel joy because they feel nothing at all. Only inner emptiness. When we repress feelings, we completely lose the connection to ourselves, to others, to life. Then only emptiness remains.

What do you not want to have to feel at any price?

With mind-looping, you suppress feeling hopelessness or other deep feelings. Because you are stuck in the thought loops, you remain in the negative mood and depressed mood for a long time. 

When you stop suppressing your feelings and start feeling again, very slowly, step by step, the circling of thoughts can become less and also quieter. Because you no longer need it to suppress your feelings.
Moreover, suppressing feelings costs enormous amounts of energy, it exhausts deeply.

When you start to feel again and work through your emotional injuries, you can slowly get back in touch with yourself, the inner emptiness can gradually disappear. 

You have to feel what's inside you, what's in your dark basement. 

Releasing the repressed feelings and inner child work is in my experience the absolute key to depression and burnout.

I recommend that you be accompanied in this process.

How does suppressed anger show up in the body?

Suppressed anger shows itself in the body through

  • Pine presses
  • Neck pain
  • Circling thoughts of who did what to you
  • Do you often feel frustrated? Frustration is a form of anger!
  • Do you feel "stressed"? What lies beneath the stress? Could it be that it is anger?
  • Do you get aggressive easily? Do you explode? Do you overreact?
  • Tension in the whole body
  • Accelerated heartbeat
  • You generally feel little emotion

It is important to understand here that aggression acted out is not the same as feeling anger. You can be very aggressive towards other people, go jogging or punch a punching bag, but suppress the feeling of anger.

Feeling anger is an inside job. Feeling is something you do by turning inward.

Anger and resentment

What are the signs that you can recognize repressed feelings?


  • are often triggered
  • are often aggressive
  • have fled into your head because you can't stand it in your body anymore
  • always try to keep control
  • have a helper syndrome
  • are a perfectionist
  • can not separate yourself
  • can not be alone
  • you withdraw, you are shy
  • are very insecure
  • are extremely adapted
  • are a rebel
  • have self-doubt
  • have difficulty making decisions
  • constantly distract yourself (shopping, eating, drinking, sports, work, leisure activities, etc.)

Do you feel that there is something inside you that you are constantly trying to keep control over?

This is your dark cellar. You are fighting an inner battle to keep the cellar door closed at all costs.

Can you feel it?

You can find very detailed examples of how you can recognize repressed feelings on my page Working with the inner child under the heading "Symptoms of a wounded inner child".

Do you recognize yourself in it?

Your inner children are your wounded parts within you, which you split off from yourself at the moment when the injury happened, as self-protection.

Do you get triggered often?

In trigger situations, an old childhood wound is activated. You are emotionally catapulted back into a painful childhood memory that is stored within you. In the Emotional Release session you feel exactly this pain, you can let go.  

Suppressing feelings can have massive consequences

We cannot selectively suppress one or certain emotions and feelings such as fear, anger, shame, etc. and allow the "positive" emotions and feelings. Unfortunately, this does not work.

Suppressing feelings means losing the connection to yourself

You can imagine it as a blanket covering your emotions. One perceives everything only muffled. You don't feel fear, anger, sadness or shame because you have suppressed them, but you also can't perceive joy, love, etc. properly anymore.

When we suppress feelings and emotions, we lose connection with ourselves, contact with our innermost being, our soul.

One can function excellently while suppressing feelings, but the depth and beauty, the connection, the color, the vibrancy of life is simply missing.

There is only inner emptiness. Nothing else.

We do everything to distract ourselves from this inner emptiness.

Work, sports, fun pools, amusement parks, movies, animation, Facebook, TV, gaming, food, alcohol.....
Nothing is wrong with having fun!
As long as you consciously choose it and don't need it as a distraction.

Under every trauma lies a part of your potential

When you suppress feelings, you split off the part of yourself that was hurt as self-protection.

How big is the part of you that is in your dark basement?

40%, 50% or even more?

Do you feel that a part of you is missing, is not present at all?

If you suppress feelings, you will attract the same conflicts into your life again and again

Everything you put in your dark basement affects your decisions, your life, your health, your partnership, your job, your relationship with your children.

Can you feel it?

  • You keep attracting toxic partners
  • You run into toxic bosses or colleagues
  • You are exploited
  • You sabotage yourself
  • You can not stand by yourself
  • Your work, does not fulfill you
  • You are not living your potential
  • You have unhealthy behavior patterns
  • You make unhealthy choices
  • earn money, but lose it again and again
  • Your nervous system is dysregulated
  • You are in constant emotional stress

It is like a fight against yourself when you suppress your feelings

You are running away from life. You are running away from yourself, from your dark cellar.
The feelings get louder when you keep suppressing them. They press against the cellar door from the inside, all the time.
Do you feel that?

Repressing feelings costs enormous strength and energy

If we suppress emotions for years in order not to have to feel them, this costs much more energy than if we can let the emotions flow freely. We are exhausted without having done anything. When we learn again to let the emotions flow freely, this energy is available to us again.

How to suppress feelings and why you shouldn't do it

Repressed feelings show themselves all the time. They want to come out of your dark basement. If you are not aware of this, you unconsciously develop avoidance strategies in order not to have to feel the feelings stored in you.
Depending on the type, these can be different strategies.

What strategy do you use to suppress your emotions?

What do you do to avoid feeling in any case?

  • Facebook?
  • Netflix or television?
  • Work?
  • Alcohol?
  • Smoking?
  • Food?
  • Sleep?
  • Sports?
  • excessive activities?
  • escape into the head?
  • Talk excessively?
  • People Pleasing?
  • Helper syndrome?
  • Cleaning?
  • Always have people around you?
  • Thought circles?
  • Blame others for your situation?
  • Aggressive behavior?
  • Control addiction?
  • Perfectionism?
  • Shyness?

Do you jog your anger away? Or do you clean it away?

These are the behavior patterns you survived with as a child. You continue them as an adult.

You were not born like this.

When the main purpose of our actions is to avoid feeling emotions, we behave differently - externally controlled, as if on autopilot - than when we consciously feel and allow emotions and consciously decide and act.

If we allow our emotions and feelings again, we can break out of our unconscious behavior patterns and leave them behind. Then we no longer need the above-mentioned strategies for suppressing emotions.

We tell ourselves stories in order not to have to feel

When things might get painful, our mind tells us stories to distract us from just feeling the raw emotion. These are stories such as who did what to us, that we are a victim, who is responsible for making us feel bad, etc. The mind repeats the story over and over again. We get stuck in this story, lose ourselves in circles of thought, just so we don't have to feel.

The task of our mind is to protect us, to spare us pain. Our mind steers us away from everything that is painful. That is its job.

The painful thing is not the emotion itself, but the concatenation of the emotion with the story we are telling ourselves all the time. If you separate the emotion from the story, the feeling rushes through you in seconds. By holding on to the story, we repress the feeling and are in a bad mood for hours or days or even longer.

What stories do you tell yourself so that you don't have to feel?

Do you want to heal or tell yourself a story?

Why learning to control emotions is not a good idea

If you want to control your emotions, you suppress them. If you suppress one emotion, you automatically suppress other emotions. For example, if you start to control anger, that is, suppress it, you automatically suppress joy, love, connection, gratitude. You start to cut yourself off from yourself.

I do not agree with the concepts of "emotion regulation". In my opinion, the concepts of "emotion regulation" disregard the fact that feeling emotions is an inside job. We feel feelings by turning inward. Feeling feelings in a healthy way is a matter of seconds, minutes at best. For example, if you are often aggressive on the outside, I invite you to learn to feel your anger in a healthy way, then you will no longer be aggressive on the outside and will not harm yourself or others

Emotions that burst out of you are not healed childhood wounds, they are repressed emotional wounds.

Feelings want to be felt and not directed or controlled.

When you start learning to control your emotions, you push your emotions into your dark basement. Because you think you can control them there.

But in reality they control you.

You are busy all day keeping your basement door shut and think you are in control of your emotions.

In reality, however, it is the other way around.

The contents of the cellar determine and control your life.

You are fighting an inner battle against yourself.

Can you feel that dark cellar inside you?

Controlling feelings is suppressing feelings

You are often triggered? These are your repressed feelings that are stored inside you.
You get aggressive easily? That's the repressed anger in your basement.
You can't set boundaries? That's the unfeeling worthlessness in your basement.
You smoke? This is you controlling and suppressing your feelings.
You have a helper syndrome? You try to earn love because you don't feel love for yourself.
You always hide yourself, you are shy? This is the shame and fear of rejection in your basement.
You are perfectionist? That's the fear of making mistakes and the feeling of never being good enough in your basement.

Why positive thinking does not work when you are traumatized

When you have emotional hurts stuck in your dark basement, they affect your entire life, your entire being. Whether you want that or not. 

You can try with all your might to think positively, to control your actions. You think with your conscious mind. The conscious mind is only 5% of you. 

Your basement contents belong to your subconscious mind. Your subconscious makes up 95% of you. 

Who has more power over you?

What does mindset coaching have to do with repressing feelings?

Sometimes a lot.
If you only align your mindset positively and try to overwrite the emotional pain stored inside you, you are using mindset work to further suppress your feelings.

When you combine mindset work with feeling your previously suppressed emotions, it is absolutely powerful.

Are you looking for an alternative to talk therapy?

The trauma or emotional injury is in your body, not in your head. In the Emotional Release session, your body, your inner child, your wounded parts speak. Your mind has a break. 

Not being able to perceive one's own feelings is a trauma reaction

Because we are too afraid to feel the repressed feelings stored in our bodies, we establish avoidance strategies.
One of many avoidance strategies is to escape into your head.
You have fled into your head because you can't stand it in your body anymore. Because in the body are the suppressed feelings.
You have become a "head person" and have unconsciously let your body become emotional dust. Out of self-protection.

You were not born as a "head person".

You can also begin to return to your body and stop repressing your feelings.

Trauma therapy-based body exercises or anything that creates body awareness can help you get back in touch with your body. Because only when you are in contact with your body, you can feel the suppressed emotions again.

This is a process that takes time.

You need patience and you need to want it. Really want it. It needs your commitment.

Your body has to learn again thatit is safe now. That it is safe to feel.

The way back to the heart is there, you just have to walk it. Just like me.

Why talk therapy often does not help

In talk therapy, the conscious mind of the therapist talks to your conscious mind as an adult. You tell what happened to you, why you feel bad. You use your conscious mind for this.

However, the conscious mind makes up only 5% of us.

However, we are controlled by the powerful 95% of our subconscious.

Have you gone through years of talk therapy without really feeling better?

Talk therapy may have stabilized you, helped you close the basement door again. You can function again.

But you are still controlled by your repressed feelings.

You are still fighting an inner battle against your basement contents.

This is my personal experience from my everyday practice.

Your trauma is in your body, not in your head

Your repressed emotions and emotional hurts that affect your entire life are stored in your inner child, in your subconscious, in your body.
Talking about feelings is not feeling feelings.
Talking about feelings is further suppressing feelings.
What you can feel, you can heal.

You don't want to suppress your feelings anymore and need help with that?

I am happy to accompany you in your release of your suppressed feelings with Emotional Release Therapy.

I do deep, powerful inner journeys with you in combination with inner child work.

You have the deep inner will to stop suppressing your feelings?
You want to let go of your emotional pain?
You want to learn to feel emotions in a healthy way again?
You want to learn to feel yourself again?
You are looking for something other than talk therapy?

Stefanie Heinlein

I am an expert on narcissism, healing practitioner & mentor. My mission: emotional release & working with the subconscious mind. I supported people to free themselves from the shackles of their emotional hurts and traumas, and related repressed emotions and patterns, regardless of the cause. My particular area of heart and specialization is supporting women in releasing their narcissistic trauma so that they can once again live a self-determined life with self-love, self-worth and self-confidence.

Stefanie Heinlein