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 6 miles above into the stratosphere, darkening the sky covering a 300 mile radius. Surrounding islands were hit by devastating tsunami waves reaching 120 feet in height. The damage was catastrophic with more than 36,000 lives lost.

The blast was caused by intense seismic activity below the surface. The heat was covered by cooled magma making it a pressure cooker. The things that were happening down deep could not be contained and eventually were unleashed.

Stuff happens below the surface in the same way when we are wronged, hurt, offended, or violated. Pressing it down deep and bottling it up doesn’t make it go away. It acts as a pressure cooker as bitterness builds in intensity before exploding, causing terrible damage. We need to get away from the dysfunction of bottling up emotions and teach our kids to do the same. Here are 5 alternatives to bottling it up.

Air It Out.

Let them 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.

Be Respectful.

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

Put Down Your Defenses.

Be ready. If you tell them 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.

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 them down. Have the ultimate goal be to come to an understanding.

Seek to Forgive.

Nurturing or even letting feelings of anger and negativity towards someone remain is like not treating a venomous snake bite. It will poison your health and relationships. Instead, release them in forgiveness. Don’t let your heart continue to prosecute. It was made for a better purpose.

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


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