Regulation = expression + suppression (and so much more).
Regulation often becomes synonymous with suppression. But regulation also includes expression.
According to @MarcBrackett, emotional regulation includes “monitoring, tempering, and modifying our emotional reactions in helpful ways in order to reach our personal and professional goals. This doesn’t mean ignoring inconvenient emotions – rather, it’s learning to accept and deal with them. People with this skill employ strategies to manage their own emotions and help others with theirs.”
So what’s so bad about suppressing our emotions?
–Individuals who suppress emotion also suppresses their immune system.
I’ll note here that while feelings and emotions are not responsible for health conditions, the prolonged suppression of them creates the tension required for disease to thrive.
–Emotion suppression doesn’t change (and may actually increase) the intensity with which we experience negative emotion.
Meaning, while you’re not showing the emotion outwardly, you’re still feeling it just as intensely inwardly.
Interestingly, this is not true for positive emotion. Suppressing the expression of joy, happiness, gratitude or other positive emotions can actually decrease the intensity with which you feel positive emotions.
Why does that matter? Positive emotions can serve as a “buffer” to negative emotions, they’re protective. If we don’t allow ourselves to feel them, we deteriorate our ability to withstand the negative emotions.
Now maybe you’re thinking, “well that’s okay, I only suppress the negative ones anyway.”
Suppression is a blunt instrument: it doesn’t differentiate between negative and positive emotions. If you habitually work to suppress negative emotions, you’ll also suppress positive emotions.
So what do we do?
The first step toward developing emotional strength is to allow ourselves to *feel* all the emotions and allow others the space to do the same.