On any given day we are annoyed, let down, shamed, or saddened by other people. We often stifle or filter certain thoughts we have about others, but what happens to the therapeutic relationship when we continue to repress these thoughts?
We’re constantly deciding whether we should even let others know how much they’ve affected us. Often we’re holding back how angry, disappointed, or furious we are with them. And they may or may not know this.
This may have been different when we were kids. Before we had any impulse control or a basic understanding about how we can affect others we may have embarrassed our parents by letting everyone know exactly how we felt about them.
Unfortunately, our learning to spare other people’s feelings sometimes comes at a price. It can get coupled with the idea that what we are feeling or thinking in that moment doesn’t matter. Not only do we not say it, we judge ourselves for feeling it, and we convince ourselves that we should just push it aside.
But that isn’t how feelings work.
To paraphrase Stephen King—they always come back.
Where Do Stifled Thoughts Go?
Maybe they’ll turn into a stomachache. Maybe they wait for a tired moment when you lash out. Maybe your head is hurting and they can be found there. Repression has a unique way of inhabiting us and you know yourself better than anyone else. I know that if I’m feeling sad and I don’t let myself cry or stifle sad thoughts I will almost certainly have a headache by the end of the day. My body just won’t let me get away with stuff like that.
Even if I think it’s not that big of a thing to be sad about.
To paraphrase Dr. Ian Malcolm—feelings will find a way.
In my monthly article for Good Therapy I look at how we can explore how these stifled thoughts affect us by encouraging you to let your therapist know when you’re annoyed by us.
Please check out Annoyed By Your Therapist? Why You Should Speak Your Mind
Look forward to hearing your thoughts!
Justin Lioi, LCSW is a men’s mental health and relationship expert. He is a Brooklyn therapist (as well as also seeing clients online throughout New York State and internationally.) He received his degree from New York University and has been working with men and their families for over 10 years. Justin is on the Board of the National Association of Social Workers and writes a weekly column for the Good Men Project called Unmasking Masculinity. He can be found on local and national podcasts talking about assertiveness, anger, self-compassion, all with the goal of becoming the man you want to be.