How we express our thoughts and feelings plays an important role in our personal development, as well as our relationships with others. When expressed appropriately, our thoughts and feelings validate who we are, increasing self-confidence and self-esteem. Additionally, self-expression provides an important means of connecting to and growing with each other.
Forms of self-expression and societal norms
Self-expression takes place not only through our speech, but also through our actions. We express ourselves by what we do, how we dress, our body language, and through artistic mediums such as writing and art. It is through these forms that we express our authentic inner self.
While self-expression is generally valued and encouraged in Western culture, it is not emphasized nearly as much in Eastern culture.1 Collectivism is promoted in many of these societies, and self-expression may be looked at as selfish and unnecessary. In contrast, self-expression is deeply rooted in modern psychology and is seen as an important part of self-discovery and emotional well-being.2
What is suppressed expression?
Even in a society where self-expression is viewed as a positive value, people often still find it difficult to express themselves emotionally. This difficulty is often due to a fear of risking the judgment, rejection, or humiliation of others. For many, it is easier to simply go along with the crowd and hide our true selves from the world than to risk any potential negative consequences of standing out.
Indeed, there are many factors at play in regards to suppressed self-expression. For example, certain types of self-expression may have been discouraged by parents and perpetuate throughout adulthood. We may also avoid expressing our true thoughts and feelings in certain situations and to certain people in order to avoid conflict or appear weak. Everyone does this to a certain extent, but there are certainly times when suppressed expression causes problems in our lives.
Emotional problems related to suppressed self-expression
Fear of confrontation and unwillingness to express emotions which may lead to rejection, ridicule, or other conflict robs us of self-protection. This vulnerability may lead to anger, which is designed to empower self-defense. However, the anger may also be suppressed. These suppressions can lead to the following emotional problems:
- Long-term sadness
- Lack of self-approval
- A sense of futility
- A tendency to “fix” others
- Thoughts of suicide
Additionally, betrayal, abuse, or mistreatment in circumstances where self-defense wasn’t possible or permissible (such as the faults and shortcomings of a parent), may worsen the condition and make forgiveness and letting go difficult.
Physical issues related to suppressed self-expression
Along with potentially causing an imbalance in the emotions identified above, suppressed self-expression can also affect specific parts of the body. Stress associated with frustration and apprehension specifically may create problems in the liver, gallbladder, ascending colon, eustachian tubes, urethra, and skin, leading to the following health problems:
- Neck and shoulder tension
- Migraine headaches
- Urinary tract disorders
Are you suppressing your emotions?
Our environment, life experiences, choices, and personality traits can all cause us to suppress our emotions in a variety of ways. It can often be difficult to know whether you are suppressing your emotions, but some of the tell-tale signs include the following:
- You hate being asked how you feel about something or someone
- You’re overly accommodating to others
- You think anger and sadness are “bad”
- You are constantly thinking negative thoughts about yourself and others
- You rarely, if ever, open up to people
- You are often angry
- Your life lacks pleasure
- You have a fear of intimacy
- You are fatigued
- You engage in self-destructive behaviors3 4
Overcoming suppressed emotional expression
Whether you are aware of the situations and emotions you repress or have experienced symptoms of suppressed emotional expression, there a variety of techniques and tips you can try to start expressing yourself in a way that’s more in line with who you really are and how you really feel.
First, remember that expressing yourself is a necessary part of your development as a person. Although showing your true self may cause conflict with other people or make them uncomfortable, it is far better than burying your emotions inside. So give yourself permission to express yourself and don’t worry about whether what you say will be accepted or validated.
Along these lines, start by making a commitment to yourself to speak your truth in the moment instead of looking back and regretting not being authentic. You could even repeat a simple daily affirmation such as, “I speak my truth in the moment” or “I am not afraid to speak my truth to others.”
It should be noted that self-expression doesn’t mean you should just blurt out everything in your head regardless of consequences. Michael Samsel explains that there are forms of mis-expression such as acting out, gossip, and hysterical outbursts. These mis-expressions can be classified as leaked hostility or incompleted expressions that never seem to fully resolve.5 Therefore, while it’s important to speak your truth and express your emotions, it’s equally important to do it in a healthy, productive way.
Another helpful tip which is a healthy and productive way to express your emotions is writing in a journal each day. Sharing your thoughts and feelings through writing helps you to discover who you really are, as well as work through suppressed emotions that are causing stress in your life. Similarly, talking to someone about your suppressed emotions in a safe space can also lead to breakthroughs such as forgiveness of yourself and others.
Suppressed Emotional Expression vs. Appropriate Self-Expression Virtual Item
The ZYTO EVOX allows you to work through issues with self-expression on a subconscious level, leading to more powerful and lasting changes. When you speak about a topic using the EVOX, any imbalance in emotional expression will show up on the EVOX chart. Suppressed Emotional Expression vs. Appropriate Self-Expression is one of the 12 Perception Index Zones that will appear on this chart after you speak about a specific topic.
Balancing Suppressed Emotional Expression vs. Appropriate Self-Expression
The EVOX not only displays any energetic imbalances with self-expression regarding a specific topic, but also assists you in balancing that area through the perception reframing process. Any other Perception Zones will also be addressed through the process of recording your voice, receiving feedback, and repeating this process until a subconscious shift has occurred.
In addition to the reframing process, the EVOX allows you to support emotional health by scanning for biological coherence to Virtual Items such as Bach flower remedies, Australian flower remedies, and essential oils. These items may relate specifically to releasing suppressed emotions and expressing yourself appropriately.
About Vaughn R CookDr. Vaughn R Cook is the Founder & CEO of ZYTO. An Oriental Medical Doctor (OMD) and licensed acupuncturist, he has worked in the complementary and alternative medical field for more than 30 years, specializing in applications that integrate Western and Eastern medicine.
1. Kim, H.S., & D.K. Sherman. “‘Express Yourself’: Culture and the Effect of Self-Expression on Choice.” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 92, no. 1 (2007): 1-11.
2. Kim, H.S., & D. Ko. “Culture and self-expression.” In C. Sedikides & S.J. Spencer (Eds.), Frontiers of social psychology (325-342).
3. King, Skyler. “Are You Emotionally Repressed? How to Tell.” Harley Therapy Blog. Harleytherapy.co.uk.
4. Nelson, Zalman. “3 Signs You Are Self-Expression Challenged.” Zalman Nelson.
5. Samsel, Micheal. “Self Expression.” Finding Feeling and Purpose. Reichandlowentherapy.org.