The BIG Problem With Suppressing Negative Thoughts
When you avoid or suppress your feelings or thoughts, it can feel like a major relief at first. As a little time passes, you might begin to feel as though you have escaped them for good.
Unfortunately, when you avoid your thoughts or feelings, you are only tightening your grip on them. Whatever you are suppressing will make its way back up the surface. Each time this happens, it not only becomes harder to swim away but stay afloat. When you suppress things, you also suppress awareness of your triggers. What you do not want to face will find its way face to face with you, but not before sneaking up on you in ways you never expected.
We all have unresolved trauma or issues that we have buried beneath the surface. We all experience unwelcome thoughts and uncomfortable feelings that we try to hide from others and ourselves. Who wouldn't want to bypass negative emotions if they could?
There is never going to be the perfect time to address anything that disrupts your comfort or contentment. It will never be easy to welcome or work through anything negative - at least as long as we label it as such. And therein lies the other danger of demonizing certain feelings or emotions in life. When we escape our negative feelings, the price we pay is the self-growth and happiness we could gain if we learned from them.
With a little more awareness, understanding, and acceptance, we can begin to welcome what we typically do not. It is critical to find ways to do this, as avoidance and suppression will usually have the opposite effect of what you tried to achieve. In other words, when we do not avoid our problems, we ultimately avoid bigger ones.
Here are a few ways to welcome and work through negative thoughts and feelings:
Identify and label your thought or feeling - it's okay to experience a thought while admitting you would rather it not be present. Tell yourself, "I don't want to feel this, but it's just a thought. It will pass."
Don't suppress it; learn from it - like the first step, you can also experience a thought without allowing it to carry you away. Reframe your mindset to view your thought as something you can use and learn from. See if there is a deeper message it's trying to give you. Try to pinpoint what triggered it, so you know what parts of you need attention and healing.
Stay curious - There are bound to be times where you feel critical or pessimistic about what you are thinking or feeling. It takes time to find more comfort and acceptance with it all, so keep practicing.
Once you have identified some thoughts and triggers, you might not know how to resolve them, and that's okay. The healing will come the more you learn about yourself. When you welcome all thoughts, you also make room for self-acceptance and compassion. Remain curious when it comes to your thoughts, and keep exploring them.