The Benefits and Costs of Suppressing Emotion

Suppressing emotion is like putting the cover over a pot heating on the stove. Before placing that cover, it may therefore be helpful to know the reasons for doing so. Is the pot coming to a boil? Are you concerned about what you might do if the pot does boil? What are the circumstances for the pot heading for a boil? Is it happening during a meeting with your boss? In that latter case, it might be helpful to place that cover on the pot until the meeting is over. But what if the pot is at a simmer? And you are with your lover? Putting the cover on the pot may intensify the heat and increase the likelihood of a boil, when instead you could have just let off some steam and maintained a simmer with the cover off. And what if the emotion that is simmering is not anger as the above might suggest, but love? What then guides your decision about whether to cover that feeling?

These situations are all ones for which psychotherapy can be helpful. Psychotherapy can help you develop the coping skills to contain your feelings during a meeting with your boss. Psychotherapy can help you learn how to understand the information in your feelings and help you integrate those feelings into honest and effective communications with others. Psychotherapy can help you make complicated interpersonal decisions about your feelings for others and can help you clarify what you want to disclose and what you’d rather not.