Denial of Negative Emotions

Every emotion is part of our existence and they all have a function. Negative emotions such as anger, fear, anxiety and sadness are natural, human and stimulating emotions. No emotion comes out of nowhere. If there is an emotion, positive or negative, it is trying to tell us what we need. Ignoring the emotion and not allowing it does not make it go away. For example, let’s say you are with a friend who is feeling very sad and is crying. What are you doing at that time? Are you trying to distract her by keeping her busy with other things, to make her feel better and stop crying? Are you trying to get him out of his sad mood without trying to understand what he is feeling, without accompanying his negative emotion? So, do you do the same things yourself when you are sad, angry or worried? Can you stay with negative emotions or do you want them to pass immediately? Are your negative emotions not allowed? Pain, anger, frustration, jealousy, sadness, or anxiety; If it is lived without denying it, without insisting that it pass, without trying to get rid of it immediately, without ignoring it, it will pass. If you deny and allow your own negative emotions, it becomes difficult to accompany the negative emotions and pain of others.

Feeling negative emotions; If it will cause the child to be judged, punished and rejected according to the value judgments of the society, the child suppresses these feelings and does not allow them to emerge. For example; He believes that his anger can be destructive, thinks that if he reveals his anger, he will not be understood and judged, so he suppresses his anger. Alice Miller, in her book “The Body Never Lies,” talks about the effect of denying emotions on the body. Miller focused on the conflict between our true feelings and what we must feel in order to comply with moral rules. In order to conform to accepted value judgments, bad feelings are ignored, while unfeeled good feelings are forced to be felt. However; true feelings cannot be felt by force. Miller states that accepting a moral and value system that states that parents should be loved under all circumstances – despite abuse – means giving up real feelings. The person who denies his bad feelings in order to be loved becomes free only when he accepts all his feelings, and when he ceases to demand love in this way and ceases to submit to value judgments, love arises spontaneously. “People loved in childhood will love their parents in return, there is no need for a command to tell them to love their parents. Obedience to a command can never produce love.”(Miller, 2015).

In the “Telling and Concealing” section of the book, the effect of denial of negative emotions on the body is explained with the biographies of many authors. For example; A short passage from a letter Marcel Proust wrote to his mother shows the relationship between morality and asthma, which he internalized. “I would rather have the attacks and make you happy than make you unhappy and not have these attacks.”

Miller defines the function of psychotherapists as an “enlightened witness” who can accompany negative emotions, act as a companion for the child within us, understand the language of the body, and take into account the feelings and needs that parents once ignored. Psychotherapy can be applied for many different reasons – eating disorders, alcohol-substance addictions, somatic complaints, depression, anxiety, etc. – but most of them are rooted in suppression of emotions, inability to express and unmet needs. During the psychotherapy process, the client is provided with the opportunity to discover their own story and express their feelings freely. Andreas phenomenon in Miller’s book; He made contact with the child inside him, felt the pain of the child who hoped that everything would change one day, and started to lose weight as he felt. He no longer needed the food and alcohol to numb his emotions, because he began to meet his need for freedom in more appropriate ways – by becoming independent of his parents.

Adulthood is reached by being able to feel repressed emotions, not denying the real, consciously accepting what the body remembers, and ending the toxic attachment to the parent that internalized it in childhood (Miller, 2015).

“We need to let go of the expectation that our parents will one day give us what they deprived us of as children.”(Miller, 2015).

The purpose of psychotherapy; It’s not about forgiving parents or taking revenge on them, but accepting them as they are. Only then are we liberated, we learn to respect ourselves, and our body feels understood and protected.

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