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A Helping Hand: What To Do With Pent Up Feelings?

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I have a lot of pent up feelings. I don’t understand them or even what they’re for. I don’t get why they’re still here or why they hurt so much. It’s the same feelings, over and over. Is this just some simple phase in my life or is there a constructive need for them?

Let’s say you put your trash out on the curb to be collected but it never gets hauled away. What you have on your curb is a growing pile of (pent up) trash. It is the result of neglecting to deal with something. In the case of the trash, you’ve not paid the trash collector or signed up for trash service yet.

Pent up feelings can be constructive. They are telling you something is wrong and needs to be addressed. It’s not just a phase; something is awry. It’s as important to maintain our emotional health as it is our physical health. If you were feverish, vomiting, and losing fluids well into day 10, would you not go to the doctor? What do you suppose the odds are of getting better by pretending you’re not sick?

Recognizing the need to do something is simple. What you have to do to deal with pent up feelings is not necessarily simple. Getting stuck with a needle to replenish fluids lost when sick with food poisoning is painful. Not going to the doctor at all means being that much weaker should a simple cold germ happen your way. It’s no different with emotional health. If you’re already stressed out, something as insignificant as someone not saying thank you when you hold the door for them could have you flipping your lid.

Pent up feelings can be painful in much the same way as that pile of trash on the curb can become smelly. If you don’t deal with whatever is causing the pent up feelings, they will continue to haunt you. There is some payoff in not expressing yourself or dealing with your issues. Maybe you don’t know how; maybe you’re afraid of how much worse you’ll feel; or maybe you don’t feel safe telling those around you. Not dealing with something in the hope it will go away on its own meets a need you have. It is also creating a counter-need.

These feelings are poking at you because they’re ready to surface – whether you want them to or not. Instead of giving in to the timeline of your feelings (anger, sadness, bitterness, hostility, resentment), take control of your own destiny. Find a counselor or adviser you think can help you through this, and guide yourself through this journey rather than allowing your emotions to get the better of you. Ironically, the same thing bothering you (your emotions) can be your ally – if you direct the show instead of letting your feelings direct you.

What’s bothering you? List it on paper to get a better idea of how much — or how little — there is to address. Read the list out loud to yourself and adjust the list as need be. With assistance, deal with what’s on the list – one thing at a time. In a short amount of time, the pressure from those pent up feelings will begin to subside. Eventually, as you learn new coping skills, that pressure will fade away.

How we deal with a problem has everything to do with how much better, or worse, we’ll feel about it. Dealing with something in an unhealthy way doesn’t usually solve the problem – and often makes it worse.

If you have control issues, the solution may have already presented itself, but you didn’t allow it to happen because it wasn’t going the way you wanted. Learning to go with the flow can be difficult, but well worth the effort when it means unburdening yourself of your issues.

Bad attention is good enough for those who aren’t getting any attention. Be honest with yourself. If you’re a bit of a drama queen, stop relying on others to give you zest and zing. Take time to nurture yourself while you work to resolve your problems.

Sometimes we meet needs in an unhealthy way because it’s familiar to us. We’re uncomfortable trying something new, even if it holds the promise of resolve. If this is what you’re doing, perhaps it’s time to address this deeper issue as well. In the meantime, be open and willing to trying new things in new ways.

Making changes doesn’t mean opening every door and walking through without caution. It means looking at an idea with an open mind – and then deciding if it’s something that might work for you. This can be anything from enlisting the help of a counselor to making new friends because the old ones are holding you back.

When we make changes in our lives, it has the potential to upset those around us. After all, we aren’t doing as we’ve always done. True friends (and family) might be uncomfortable, but still supportive. If someone isn’t supportive (and may even insist you return to your old ways), it’s time to give them the space they need to deal with their own issues.

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About Diana Hartman

Diana is a USMC (ret.) spouse, mother of three and a Wichita, Kansas native. She is back in the United States after 10 years in Germany. She is a contributing author to Holiday Writes. She hates liver & motivational speakers. She loves science & naps.
  • Marcia L. Neil

    Anyone born in a hospital or giving birth in a hospital will have a legion of surveillant health professionals tracking them — usually with covert intent to ‘contribute to the literature’ and maybe pocket fat royalty checks or advance along a tenure track. Such networks often do not acknowledge the friction they cause which causes additional health problems for their ‘overseen’ subjects. Write it down? — sure, since tracked individuals can lose teeth or become surly, which qualifies them to have more and expensive surgery or other such procedures. Send it to the FBI or complain to the American Medical Association. Syndicate networks also feel free to ‘vote’ among themselves about the conduct of subject personal lives.