Stuffing feelings – effective?

By Dave Henning / April 12, 2024

“Feelings can’t be beat back, by the way.  Even if you’re the most effective stuffer ever to live, the very best at stuffing feelings way down deep, so far down you believe they can never be found.  I’m here to tell you that those feelings don’t go quietly.”- Jennifer Allen

In Chapter 1 (“Where Did That Come From?”) of Untangle Your Emotions: Naming What You Feel and Know What to Do About It, Jennifer Allen talks about her reaction to her daughter Kate’s marriage.  Jennifer and her husband Zac approved whole heartedly of the match.

But when the newlyweds started sharing their dreams, Jennifer reacted irrationally.  She did realize that in her head.  However, Jennifer also knew that something bigger than knowing the right answers was happening to her.  Certainly, on one level, this wasn’t about Jennifer.  Equally true: this was absolutely all about her.

Consequently, the author pauses to ask her readers two questions:

  1. Have you ever had a disproportionate emotional response to a situation that should not have affected you in such a dramatic way?
  2. Have you ever stopped to think about what the reason for that response could be?

Therefore, Jennifer counsels:

“Those raised-up reactions tell a story — a story about something we’ve lived.  They point to a deep-seated something that has gone unaddressed in our heart.

We experience something impactful.  We react to that thing by stuffing our feelings or minimizing our feelings or ignoring how we feel altogether.  Then something comes our way, something that’s not even that big of a deal, and we lose it.  We unload.  We catastrophize.”

So, what underlies it all?  Jennifer’s short answer: a lot.  Something the science and the Bible will tell us.

In addition, every time we experience emotions we may have been conditioned not to feel, our brain moves to fight off the feeling.  Just like our immune system takes down a virus.

Above all, those feelings tangle up with something very real in your past or present.  Hence, it is a big deal to you.  Whether or not you’re ready to admit it.

Today’s question: Do you ever find stuffing feelings effective?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: “Control you vs. tell you something”

About the author

Dave Henning

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