June 4, 2022

8 Ways we Avoid our Emotions (Plus: A Billy Joel Song to Remind us to Slow Down).

“Our emotions need to be as educated as our intellect. It is important to know how to feel, how to respond and how to let life in so that it can touch you.” ~ Jim Rohn


Handling our emotions can be a tough job for most of us.

While we are comfortable with the ones that feel good, the ones that come with some amount of discomfort have us running for the hills.

We’re constantly trying to move away from or push them down because they come with the quality of being unbearable at times.

Sadly, while we are taught a lot of things at home and in school about so many things, we are never told what to do with our emotions—the aspect of our being that lies at the heart of each and every experience.

We’re told not to cry, not to be angry, not show our sadness, and God forbid, not to grieve!

The moment we notice difficult emotions coming up, we automatically want to stuff them somewhere, shove them aside, push them down, or somehow get rid of them.

But that rarely works.

While we may have been able to suppress or ignore them, they don’t really go anywhere.

I mean, where are they supposed to go? I wish our mind has some mechanism like our digestive system to just eliminate the rubbish that our body no longer needs! But that’s not how our system is designed. So whatever we suppress, push down, try to avoid and ignore just finds its own space in some corner of our mind, waiting to be called out some day, and when that doesn’t happen, it simply lodges itself in our body and starts to manifest as physical symptoms.

And in our living, breathing experience, there are so many ways in which we keep bottling up, suppressing, or pushing away our emotions that we don’t even realise exist.

We do that because we think that there is something inherently wrong with experiencing these emotions and that they are negative and bad and shouldn’t be felt.

Well, if we could choose what we feel in every situation, life would be so much easier and mechanical, right?

Our subconscious mind knows which emotion it needs to throw away to convey an important message to us. But, because we are too busy labelling what we feel and how we shouldn’t feel it, we rob our emotions of their essence.

Of course, we can’t pay attention to every emotion that comes up for us, and we do need to avoid and distract ourselves at times as well. But anything we do in excess and without awareness does cost us in the long run.

A lot of us are simply not aware of the ways in which we keep bottling up our emotions, and some don’t even know what to do with what they feel to begin with.

Therefore, it’s important to understand that we can make our world richer by experiencing these gems called emotions.

“Our feelings and emotions are like the tides of the ocean—never constant and ever changing—as unpredictable as the waves. So expect to feel the unexpected as your emotions wash through you, over you, within you and around you on the shores of your soul. Ride the tide of your feelings, wherever they flow.” ~ Anonymous

Here are some ways in which we keep trying to push our feelings away, which only creates more damage in the long run (especially if we’re engaging in them without awareness):

1. Distracting yourself or avoiding uncomfortable situations. A lot of times when we begin to feel uncomfortable, we are quick to run to our phones, scroll on social media, play games, or even drown ourselves in work so that we can bypass the emotion that’s coming up. We use these and other things to escape the discomfort. While this has short-term benefits, it simply creates a sense of disconnection within ourselves and distorts our version of reality.

2. Jumping to firefighting or finding solutions. Only focusing on the logical, practical aspect of a situation just so that we can manage it better can stop us from experiencing what we are feeling. We often want to jump to a solution so that the concern can be resolved at the earliest, without us having to experience any discomfort.

Fighting emotion with logic is like bringing a calculator to a knife fight.” ~ Josh Sundquist

3. Overdoing activities. Working, exercising, or socializing too much are ways in which we try to shut down the voice of our emotions. We keep ourselves so occupied with the external world that the internal one just drowns out.

4. Over-consumption of feel-good food items and substances. Just so that we can immediately feel good and push down the sadness, anger, or pain that are coming up.

5. Feeling resentful of people and situations. Feeling resentful is a natural consequence of going overboard in the external world and not taking the time to truly acknowledge our feelings, needs, and desires. When we constantly ignore or put them aside, no matter what intention we hold for people and relationships, we will be filled with resentment toward them and even our own self.

6. Avoiding confrontations. Many a times we avoid getting into confrontations or difficult conversations for the fear that if we speak up for ourselves, someone may not like it. Thus, we keep our feelings tucked inside, and they only become septic wounds over time.

7. Feeling edgy, agitated, and angry all the time. Too much suppression eventually builds a lot of residue over time, and it makes us cranky, irritable, agitated, and ready to explode at any minute.

8. Feeling lonely. We begin to feel intensely lonely, even if we’re surrounded by people, and that’s only because when we keep stuffing our emotions inside instead of engaging in a healthy, authentic expression, we lose the connection with ourselves and with those around us.

Most of us are always engaged in this meaningless pursuit of making our emotions go away.

Well, our emotions are biological responses that are wired within our brains and bodies. We can’t make them go away, no matter how hard we try!

However, we can and need to process them so that we can take the messages and learnings out of them.

We need to sit with ourselves and ask ourselves, “What am I feeling?” “What’s coming up for me?” and then steer that emotion in a particular direction.

Just like we embrace emotions like joy, excitement, love, and happiness wholeheartedly, we also need to create room for the ones that have a difficult quality attached to them.

After all, how would we ever know who and what is important for us if we never experience sadness over their loss?

How would we ever figure out what’s not in alignment with us if we have never truly experienced anger?

It’s easy to stuff them in and forget about them, isn’t it?

And yes, it takes patience, effort, and some amount of courage to sit with them, allow them to come up, cry a little (or maybe a lot), or feel sad or a little angry.

And it’s only when we do this that life breathes through us.

What a dull, boring, mechanical world it would be without our emotions.

So why not slow down just a bit and get in touch with your own selves?

Feel a little, or maybe a lot, and remind yourself that what you feel is what makes your world go around.

Doesn’t it?

So here’s a little reminder to slow down and feel what you feel:



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