When you squeeze an orange what comes out of it? Yep, that’s right orange juice. It is impossible for something else to come out of it other than what is already in there. Ask yourself, what happens when you get squeezed? When life pushes you to go through experiences that bring about emotions that you never felt before…or acknowledged? When things that you have suppressed for years have nowhere to go but out?
What comes out of you?
How do you react when you’re stressed and stretched far too thin? Is it agitation, tears, procrastination, snapping at the people around you? These feelings can show up when you are stressed at work and your underlying feelings of self-doubt and inadequacy come out of nowhere. Or maybe it happens when you have a big game that puts a lot of pressure on you and reminds you that you don’t feel good enough.
There is a protective measure that we tend pull on called suppression. Suppression is when we choose to avoid something and push it so far down so that we can forget it’s there. Sometimes it’s a great tool to help us compartmentalize our thoughts and feelings when they do not serve us. It’s perfect when we are at work and have an important deadline because it helps in not letting our negative experiences affect our productivity. It’s not all bad!
In society this idea of suppression is often seen as a skill saying things like “you really look like you have it all together” “you have to be strong” or “get over it.” This pushes the idea that this is a healthy way of moving on or coping. Yes, this helps us for the time being but what it really leads to is suffering in silence.
But what happens when our bodies cannot suppress those thoughts and feelings any longer so they have nowhere to go, but out. Life is hard, so there are going to be moments where that rawness barges through, but does it have to be a moment that we have to regret? Suppressing our emotions can lead to negative effects such as depression, anxiety, relationship conflicts, increased stress levels and even physical symptoms.
To avoid these negative effects, it is important that we intentionally prepare ourselves for hard moments or moments where we are “squeezed”.
So how do we gain some sense of control ?
Ooh I know this word shows up everywhere but if you don’t know what is wrong, how can you fix it? It takes becoming aware of what your juice looks like, or better yet how do you show up when you are stressed. When we get squeezed all that is coming up are feelings that were already there. The ones that we have yet to deal with it. Suppressing emotions can take the form of numbing through drugs or alcohol, distracting yourself by keeping extremely busy, fear of loneliness, food, excessive sleeping, or impulsive spending.
It is important to figure out how they show up for you now so when you are placed in those situations you already know your triggers and how to cope with them in healthy ways.
Learn your triggers
These are the things that lead you to show those behaviors mentioned above. When do you get stressed? Is it when there are deadlines to be met, when you are around certain family members or when you have something that needs to be solved …and quickly? Financial problems? The list is endless.
Recognize that hiding your emotions does not mean they are not there
Out of sight out of mind right. WRONG. Our body and our behaviors sometimes know what we are feeling even before we realize what it is we are feeling.
Yep you guessed it….mindfulness.
Mindfulness is like a superpower. One of those superpowers that you can strengthen and can get if you don’t have it down already. The ability to be present at that specific moment despite the chaos going on around you is a specialty, but one that must be learned and put into practice.
In moments where you have strong emotions , take some time out to name the emotion and feel it in that moment. Pause to acknowledge the stress, the pain, the hurt. Then you can begin to create a healthy plan to get past it or heal from it. Remember that muscle analogy I always use. Mindfulness muscles must be strengthened and that takes being intentional, practicing, and being present.
Practice talking/writing about your emotions
In therapy, I often refer to the people in your inner circle as your board of trustees. These are the people you trust to be vulnerable with or practice skills with.
If you are not comfortable with that just yet, writing your thoughts down can be just as therapeutic. Start by using bullet points just to get your thoughts out and allow yourself to forget about the typos.
What comes out of you when you are squeezed and what are your triggers?