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I have read a lot about emotional bypassing.
I’ve looked up its definition, symptoms, and consequences, and I’ve read about others who have experienced it. I’ve experienced it and witnessed people go through it and what it does to them. I’ve seen women beating themselves up for being upset about a comment they’ve heard at a family gathering. I’ve seen couples suffer from constant anger because of issues they’ve never addressed.
A friend of mine once told me that she’s had enough of her boyfriend constantly telling her, “Stop making a big deal out of this.” And this led to her getting angry and worked up over the most “trivial” things. Why? Because her rightful emotions were ignored when they should’ve been acknowledged several times before.
What happens when we become the ones ignoring our own emotions? Belittling them? Throwing them in a drawer to revisit them later but never actually do?
Don’t you believe that them lingering in the darkness of that drawer will eventually mold them in the shape of unhealthy reactions and behavior? Perhaps leading to unexplained frustration and, sometimes, anxiousness?
For as long as I can remember, I’ve heard people around say, “Be grateful.”
And I am. I truly am grateful for everything life has offered me. Health (especially of my loved ones’), education, a roof over my head, a job, good friends, love…
But, sometimes, sh*t happens. Sometimes, we roll in the mud because of tiny or large bumps. And we cannot ignore how we feel about it. Humans are made of different emotions, and each one deserves our attention. Each one needs to be felt. Each one is okay to be felt.
And for a long while, people called me “patient,” “nice,” “understanding,” and so on. And I do admit that I am all of those things…to a certain point. But because I was so tempted to maintain those qualities, I shut up when people argued with me and tried my best to understand them even when they didn’t understand me.
I was nice to people who used me and took advantage of my behavior.
I was understanding of people who hurt me deeply.
And what was I doing all the while? I was ignoring how I truly felt to force myself to feel how I should.
Whatever that “should” means.
Sometimes, we fall victims to our own emotional bypassing by doing the following:
1. Forcing ourselves to be positive
There’s nothing worse than forcing a smile on our faces when we’re feeling down. Acknowledging how we feel and being at peace with feeling that way will make it easier for us to deal with the situation that is making us upset instead of bottling up our emotions and lying to ourselves.
2. Staying in an unpleasant situation because it’s convenient
Some of us are forced to do it in certain situations. Another friend of mine stayed in a job he hated because he had to pay the bills. But he didn’t stop there. As he worked, and even with the difficulty of landing jobs in Lebanon, he kept searching for years for another one that paid the bills as well and made a leap of faith. He’s now working somewhere that pays better and feels better.
He was grateful he had his last job. But that didn’t mean he was happy.
Life is hard sometimes, but we must fight every day. And even the smallest steps we take to respect our feelings and well-being are counted toward a better life.
3. Lying about how we truly feel
We need to sit with our feelings from time to time. Alone or not, we can’t deny what our heart truly wants. Sometimes, we want to scream at the person in front of us out of frustration and anger, but we end up swallowing our arguments and anger and moving on. I’m not saying we need to jump at every opportunity to fight with someone, but it’s okay to express our disagreement in a mindful way. It’s okay to tell our partner something they did bothered us. It’s okay to be angry. It’s okay to feel sad even if we’re grateful for what we have in life. It’s okay to admit we’re anxious over things that other people might consider trivial.
Then what shall we do about that? We need to practice being at peace with our emotions. And if we feel we need help to do that, therapy is always a great option. Sometimes, being the victims of our own emotional bypassing might stem from deeper roots.
Let’s be at peace with our emotions, shower ourselves with self-love, and remember that it’s okay to feel no matter what that feeling is.
What’s important is what we do after acknowledging that feeling.
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