In the UK, the phrase ‘bite your tongue’ is a familiar directive. It instructs us to withhold our words, to refrain from saying what’s really on our minds. But what many don’t realise is that this seemingly harmless piece of advice can lead to what I heard Richard Moat refer to as ‘emotional constipation’.
The very act of ‘biting your tongue’ suggests causing personal pain to prevent potentially causing pain to others. From a young age, we’re taught to hurt ourselves - to suppress our genuine feelings - rather than run the risk of upsetting another. But what’s the long-term cost?
The British reputation is one of reservation. We’re stereotyped as having a ‘stiff upper lip’, avoiding conflict, and striving for emotional evenness. While moderation is indeed praised, have we taken this to an extreme? The result? Millions of people walking around, burdened with suppressed emotions, leading to unexpected outbursts of anger. These are merely the body’s desperate attempts to release, to find some form of equilibrium.
Suppressing our emotions doesn’t make them disappear. They linger, accumulating over time, and become internal poisons that manifest as physical and emotional pain. These pent-up feelings need an outlet. Otherwise, they transition into a sense of hopelessness, sapping motivation, enthusiasm, and the very joy for life.
To those feeling this weight, there are ways to release:
1. Speak: Seek out a coach, specialist, or trusted individual. Share everything, all at once. Let it out, then move forward.
2. Write: The traditional method. Pen to paper. Write letters to all those who’ve hurt or upset you. Document your emotions, experiences, and feelings. (You don’t have to send it).
The relief that comes from expressing these suppressed emotions is profound. The core message here? Suppression is detrimental. It’s crucial to express our feelings, but in a safe and constructive environment.
So, I challenge you: Reflect on your emotional state.
Are you holding in feelings, experiences, or sentiments? Ask yourself, “Am I emotionally constipated?” Remember, it’s always better out than in.