Suppressed emotions: the underlying cause of anxiety

Anxiety is often tied to inacceptable thoughts and feelings that may be buried in our unconscious because they are difficult to feel or think about.

We, as human beings, and especially as children, can be put in situations that may create difficult and negative emotions for us. Because these emotions are difficult to feel and think about, they become stored away in our unconscious.

Barry is a child who really needs his mother's love and attention. However, she is preoccupied with her own difficulties and negative emotions, such as depression. As a result, she finds it hard to give Barry the attention a child needs. Because Barry is only a child and finds it hard to make sense of his mother's depression, he takes it personally. He feels rejected, unwanted and furious about his mother's neglect of him.

At the same time, he begins to hate his neediness. He thinks that his mother doesn't love him because of his excessive neediness. So, not only does he suppress his neediness, but also his rage and fury. Years have gone by and Barry is now grown. One day comes when he gets up with a churning feeling in his stomach. He is having an anxiety attack. He is not able to make sense of his anxiety and becomes overwhelmed and paralysed by it. He's not able to sleep, concentrate or live his day-to-day life.

Barry's feelings of being unwanted may be triggered by other situations in his current life, such as relationships, his job and his contacts with people. But, because these feelings and the associated fury remain suppressed, he's left with this powerful force called 'anxiety', which warns him about an inner turmoil.

These hidden feelings can be all sorts of difficult emotions, such as shame, guilt, disappointments, rejection, sense of failure, or abuse, both emotional or physical, just to mention a few. All of these emotions are usually caused by different circumstances in our childhood, when we are so little to be able to make sense of our own feelings, and it's easier to push them down the unconscious.

How to become free of this kind of anxiety?

There are approaches, such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), which teach you how to use strategies to cope with your anxiety. You may find them very useful. However, if you want to become completely free of this dreadful nagging emotion, then you need explore their unconscious roots and get in touch with the negative emotions that have been suppressed for a long time. Step-by-step, by becoming aware of yourself and your feelings, you will notice that your anxiety begins to fade away without you needing to use any coping strategies.

Therapy will provide you a space in which you get a chance to find the courage to explore some of these difficult feelings in the presence of the therapist, who is able to make sense of these emotions for you and assist you in freeing yourself from anxiety and other overwhelming feelings. Once these feelings are acknowledged, they can be changed.

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