Suppressing Negative Emotions

Suppressing negative emotions. Is it good or bad? What are the long-term consequences?


4/17/20232 min read

brown eggs on white textile
brown eggs on white textile

We are all taught to be positive.

So, I wanted to raise my two daughters to be positive and always happy-go-lucky.

When youngest wakes up grumpy, we told her can you bring the happy her here?

If eldest feels sad for no apparent reason, we told her to be more positive. Being drama doesn't help anything.

If the girls exhibit any form of misbehave or negative mood during our oversea trip, we threaten them with immediate home deportation.

I was convinced that being positive was the key to a happy life. I mean, there are studies that prove it, right?

Improved mood, better relationships, lower rates of heart disease - it's all science. So, I kept telling my girls to suppress their negative emotions and just focus on the good stuff.

Or is it?

One day, our eldest had a total meltdown over something minor, like her sister taking her toys or something. It was like a dam burst and she just couldn't hold it in anymore.

This happened again a few months later and that's when I realized that maybe suppressing negative emotions isn't the best solution after all.

I did some research (yeah, I'm a responsible dad like that) and turns out, suppressing negative emotions can have some serious consequences on our mental and physical health. I'm talking depression, anxiety, less intimacy in relationships, and even a higher risk for heart disease. Yikes.

But it's not just the health risks, repressed emotions can resurface in unexpected and unhealthy ways. Like my brother, who used to hurt himself or break things when he was overwhelmed with emotions.

Or me, who used to default to anger as my go-to emotion (not my proudest moment).

I mean, I remember growing up, crying was a big no-no.

No tears were allowed unless during punishment. But now I realize that expressing emotions is important. It's like emotional fitness, you know? And I want my girls to have a healthy emotional IQ, not like my low score back in the day.

So, I've come up with a new game plan. First, I'm going to check my own motives when I want them to stop crying or behaving. Is it for my convenience or for their well-being?

Second, I'm going to encourage them to identify their emotions and feelings. I'll ask them, "How are you feeling? Why do you feel that way?" It's like a little emotional investigation, detective-style. Gotta be patient and really listen, though. No detective shortcuts here!

But hey, enough about emotions for now. I've got a video script to write. Next time, folks!