bottling up emotions

The Dysfunction of Bottling Up Emotions

On August 26, 1883, the volcano Krakatoa unleashed one of the most violent eruptions in recorded history. It produced an explosion 10,000 times more powerful than the bomb dropped on Hiroshima. The blast pushed debris and smoke six miles into the stratosphere, darkening the sky over a 300-mile radius. A devastating tsunami hit surrounding islands with waves reaching 120 feet in height. The catastrophic damage cost more than 36,000 lives.

When the heat under the earth was covered by cooled magma, the earth became like a pressure cooker. It couldn’t contain what was beneath it. Stuff happens below the surface in the same way within us when we are wronged, hurt, offended, or violated. Pressing it down deep and bottling it up doesn’t make it go away. That also works like a pressure cooker as bitterness builds in intensity before exploding, causing terrible damage. We need to turn away from the dysfunction of bottling up emotions and teach our kids to do the same. Here are 5 alternatives to bottling it up.

1. Air it out.

Let others know what they did and how it affected you. Be direct and firm, but do your best to be pleasant, or you may cause them to shut down.

There may be a good reason to disagree, but there is never a reason to be unkind.

2. Be respectful.

There may be a good reason to disagree, but there is never a reason to be unkind. Stay clear of personal attacks. Keep the focus on one issue.

3. Put down your defenses.

Be ready. If you tell others the ways they have wronged you, their natural instinct will be to turn it back to you. They may even present a whole list of past grievances. Stop the cycle right away by accepting it. Don’t defend. Hopefully, they will be mature enough to follow your lead. You don’t have to plead guilty for things outside of your responsibility. Express remorse that they were hurt or offended and leave it there.

4. Seek to understand as much as you want to be understood.

Encourage a dialogue of what went wrong and how future offenses can be avoided. Listen just as much as you talk. Put aside being right or pinning others down. The ultimate goal is to come to mutual understanding.

5. Forgive.

Nurturing feelings of anger and negativity toward someone is like not treating a venomous snake bite. It will poison your health and relationships. Instead, release them in forgiveness. Luke 6:37 tells us, “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.” Don’t let your heart continue to prosecute. It was made for a better purpose.

Need help teaching sons how to handle emotions? Use this as your guide.

Sound off: How do you keep from bottling up emotions?

Huddle up with your kids and ask, “What do you do when you are mad at someone?”