Have you ever been, or talked to someone who is clearly upset and when asked; “What’s wrong?” insists that nothing is wrong?
The more you probe, the more they resist. There is clearly something wrong but they will not open up. You write it off as being emotionally closed and eventually give up. The problem is, you are asking them to open up in a way that they have for generations been bred not to do.
We have been taught that no one likes a grumpy or depressed person so never let your feelings out or people will dislike you. This is quite interesting because it dates back to the old testament. It is written; ‘God does not enter a sad and heavy heart.’ For 3000 years, we have been taught that we must be happy all the time, so humans as humans will do, ignore or hide the truth.
Unfortunately that does not mean you do not feel negative, but rather you will feel it and keep it inside, which requires you deny your feelings in order to get through the day. If your knee has been injured and you keep playing the sport without rest by ignoring the pain, you are only going to ruin your knee permanently.
Aside from the horrors of violent events in America, many less deadly ‘going postal’ events happen on a regular basis and I would like to present my opinion of why this is happening. Even if you do not explode in any major way, you may also be effected by the same problem.
The British expression; ‘keep a stiff upper lip’, means to never show your fear, or emotions (because the upper lip quivers when you are scared and they wanted the front line in battle to not show fear).
The USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and many of the British territories are hereditarily British and Judeo-Christian. There are many other cultures who will also be subject to the topic of this article and emotional containment.
Aside from holding in all your emotions, which is very unnatural and unhealthy, the catalyst behind the emotional explosions is the fast spreading concept that we should open emotionally and express our feelings. We are being told it is good and healthy to express our emotions as we feel them, but our deepest core from generations of cultural conditioning tells us that is absolutely taboo.
Being told that it is OK to open up, yet being bred to keep it all inside, people are exploding internally, holding it in, and eventually, explode externally. Meanwhile, the inner conflict causes immense stress which is resulting in mental as well as physical illness.
There is a Sufi story about a Sultan who insulted a very powerful mystic, who then put a curse on the Sultan that he could not pass gas. After two weeks the pain was growing unbearable and none of the Sultan’s physicians could cure the problem. They told the Sultan he may die shortly if he keeps it all inside.
They brought the mystic to the Sultan who begged forgiveness. When asked how much he would give to be cured, the Sultan said; ‘half my kingdom.’ A deal was made and weeks of pain vented. The mystic told his friends to look upon the kingdom to which he now owned half and said; “All this, I purchased for the price of a fart.”
We keep our emotions inside, holding them in fear that if we let out our true feelings we may cause everyone to flee. But on the other hand, we are enduring great pain by going against the natural human need to express our emotions. What would you give to be emotionally free?
A Nepalese friend who spent many years in Germany said that the problem with Westerners is that they keep everything inside. Every little thing that happens builds up until one day a small thing triggers an explosion and they get divorced. On the other hand, he and his wife yell and scream when they get upset, and having let it out at the moment, it instantly passes and they love each other without lingering thoughts. I have written about this problem in a recent article; Is Your Heart Closed Or Simply Preoccupied.
I doubt that every Nepalese is that way, although I am certain I am. This is emotional independence. To be free to express your emotions because you are not concerned with what anyone thinks or says about you. This is true freedom and the only way to have a happy, healthy life. Funny enough, with this freedom to express, anger, feeling insulted, and other negative emotions have become very rare events.