The Dangers of Repressed Emotions

It's really important to express your thoughts and feelings, while respecting those around us. Don't be worried about what those around you may think.
The Dangers of Repressed Emotions
Valeria Sabater

Written and verified by psychologist Valeria Sabater.

Last update: 27 May, 2022

“He who swallows much eventually drowns.” Maybe you’ve heard this old saying, which describes repressed emotions, before. Like the majority of these sayings, they remind us of our ancestors and contain universal truths that we should pay attention to. Authors such as Finkenauer and Rimé affirm that silencing our emotions can have a negative effect on our well-being.

How many things do you hold in every day? How many thoughts and feelings do you keep to yourself trying not to offend others? Be careful, because in the end you’re only doing damage to yourselfWe’ll explain some of the dangers of repressed emotions below. 

The danger of silencing your emotions

A happy woman.

Silence is wisdom, there’s no doubt about that, and it’s always better than saying something foolish. Before making an off-color comment or saying something inappropriate, it’s better to consider things and show more intelligence than someone who doesn’t think before they speak.

However, there has to be a balance between keeping quiet and defending your needs:

  • If you keep your thoughts and feelings to yourself, you won’t be able to let others know how they’re hurting you or that they’ve crossed the line. No one is a fortune teller, if you don’t let others know that something upsets or offends you, they won’t know.
  • Sometimes it’s wise to stay silent, but at other times, you’ll have to choose wise words. Knowing when to speak up and when to stay quiet is one of the most important skills you can learn to develop. It’s not about keeping absolutely quiet or letting out every last thing on your mind.

Extremes are never good. Maintain a balance, but always remember that hiding your feelings only damages you. It allows others to violate your personal space, cross the line, speak for you when you say nothing, and choose for you when you don’t do it for yourself. In the end, you’ll be little more than a puppet strung along by others.

2. Holding things in leads to psychosomatic illnesses


It shouldn’t surprise you that the body and mind are intimately connected. Specialists are even warning that a high percentage of people suffer or have suffered from some type of psychosomatic illness in their lives.

Nervousness, for example, alters digestion, causing diarrhea and headaches. Cold sores are triggered by elevated stress levels, nerves, and fever. Ignoring your thoughts and feelings leads to high levels of anxiety that tax the body.

Think about the things that you don’t tell your parents or friends because you don’t want to hurt them. They do things for you thinking that they’re helping, when in reality they’re just making you feel bad.

Why can’t you tell them the truth? We also think of our partners, not wanting to offend them, although there are times that they behave in a way that hurts us. But, we choose to remain silent.

See Also: Know your Toxic Relationship Partner

All of that will sooner or later result in psychosomatic illnesses, like migraines, tension, chronic fatigue…

3. Speaking up: the key to releasing repressed emotions

Talking to liberate repressed emotions

You shouldn’t be afraid to express yourself, and even less afraid of others who do it. It’s just as necessary as breathing, eating, or sleeping… Emotional communication is necessary in our day-to-day lives to establish healthier relationships with others and with ourselves.

Here are a few basic keys to follow:

  • Remember that everything has a limit. If you don’t speak up about your thoughts and feelings, you won’t be acting in a dignified manner, you’ll lose your self esteem and control of your life. In the first place, always remember that it’s your right to express what you’re thinking and feeling.
  • Saying what one thinks is not meant to hurt anyone. It’s defending yourself and letting others know how you feel.
  • Don’t obsess over or feel afraid about how others might react. If you’re worried about how things might be taken, you can prepare yourself for possible reactions.

Remember that speaking up for what you’re thinking and feeling is, in reality, the best method of liberating yourself from repressed emotions. Practice it with wisdom and take care of yourself.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Finkenauer, C. & Rimé, B. (1998). Keeping Emotional Memories Secret: Health and Subjective Well-being when Emotions are not Shared. Journal of Health Psychology, 3(1), 47-58.
  • The importance of quality over in quantity in the social sharing of emotions (SSE) in people living with HIV/AIDS. Cantisanoa, N., Rimé, B. & Munoz Sastre, M. T. (2015). Psychology, Health & Medicine(20), 1, 103–113.
  • Lloyd, G. (2006). Textbook of Psychosomatic Medicine. The British Journal of Psychiatry, 188(1), 97.
  • Armstrong, E., Mortensen, L., Ciccone, N., & Godecke, E. (2012). Expressing opinions and feelings in a conversational setting. Seminars in Speech and Language, 33(01), 16-26.
  • Wong, E., Tschan, F., Messerli, L., & Semmer, N. K. (2013). Expressing and amplifying positive emotions facilitate goal attainment in workplace interactions. Frontiers in Psychology, 4, 188.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.