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From Repression to Healthy Expression

Melli O'Brien

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Melli O'Brien

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From Repression to Healthy Expression

Personalized support for learning how to integrate mindfulness into your life. Delivered fresh everyday by our world renowned experts. Choose meditation duration:

Hi, and welcome to your Daily Mindfulness.

Today we're going to talk about

how to shift repression of emotions

to healthy expression of emotions.

So repression of emotions can sometimes

be actually difficult to identify

because it can feel like a subtle

irritability, resentment, low mood.

Maybe even shows up as fatigue sometimes.

Sometimes we're aware of a kind

of stuffing down of something

or keeping something in.

But other times we may not realize

that we're suppressing something.

Either way, by pushing down our difficult

emotions, we only prolong and deepen them.

And we've probably all had times when

repressed emotions suddenly come out

in really reactive, really unhelpful

ways that we often regret later.

In fact, I remember once I came to

work after a difficult weekend, and I

realized that one of my colleagues had

taken the credit for some work that we

actually did together the week prior.

And I felt all of this anger surfacing

towards her, but I was feeling tired and

I just didn't want any confrontation.

I didn't want to deal with it.

So I pushed my emotions down

and just said a very cold hello

to her and sat down to work.

I tried not to think about it, but for

days this irritation and anger just kept

simmering inside me and I kept being

very stony in my communication with her.

Have you ever had a

similar scenario to this?

So I was always particularly

prone to repressing anger.

It's something I still work on.

But mindfulness has taught me over the

years to notice and acknowledge when

difficult emotions arise, and it's taught

me how to honestly face my emotions and

then I can work with them more skillfully.

So what might that look like?

Well, for me personally, now,

instead of repressing anger, if it

arises toward someone, I pause and

take a deep breath and acknowledge

what I'm feeling and thinking.

And I also acknowledge what it is that

I'm needing or wanting in that situation.

So for instance, in the example,

above with my old coworker, I

really wanted to be treated fairly.

I wanted my work to be acknowledged.

So whatever the situation, once we've

become mindful of our emotions and

honestly checked in with what we're

feeling and needing, we're well-placed to

have a clear, calm and kind conversation

with the other person about any issues,

or if that's not needed, we can work

to find our own ways to meet our needs.

For instance, a feeling like

loneliness, instead of being repressed

could be listened to and honored.

And that can be a catalyst to going

to find more connection in our lives.

That's a healthy response to that

emotion, a healthy expression,

a seeking of connection.

So repressing our emotions, when it

comes down to it, really doesn't work.

They don't go away when we numb them,

push them down or try to ignore them.

They're actually still there and

they'll probably stay there until we

acknowledge them and find out what

they may have to teach or show us.

So the invitation for today and ongoing

is to let go of stuffing things down or

sweeping them under the rug and practice,

listening to the difficult emotions

when they arise, bring mindfulness

and compassion to them, and shift

your repression to healthy expression.

As always, thank you for your practice

and your presence here with us.

And now let's settle in

for today's meditation.

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