The act of emotional suppression is often described as holding in any outward signs of inner feelings. When somebody does not exhibit to others how they really feel inside, it lowers the chances that they will receive the kind of emotional support and medical care that they need to prevent anxiety and depression and even suicide attempts.
Traditionally, in most cultures men have been the breadwinner and the protector of the family. To do this they have had to put on a hard outer shell and not show any vulnerability. As one can imagine, this act can become very limiting over time and dissuade men from seeking the kind of emotional support and medical attention that they need. This emotional suppression creates a large gap between how one appears and how one really feels.
When one suppresses their emotions they can create what are sometimes referred to as shadow emotions. These are usually considered negative emotions, such as fear, envy, insecurity, etc. Even though they are suppressed, these emotions still exist, similar to what the legendary psychiatrist Carl Jung referred to as a “shadow self” complete with “shadow emotions.”
Shadow emotions often result in self sabotage because when someone does not express their true emotions they end up living a life which does not involve doing the things they want to do. Instead, they end up doing the things they expect themselves to do. This is the ultimate self-sabotage because sufferers end up not really being themselves – and there is no way to live your real life and be happy that way.
There are numerous psychological consequences of emotional suppression, and of course they differ widely by person. However, many experts assert that suppressed emotions stay in the body, causing anxiety, depression, and other stress-related illnesses. Over longer period of time this type of emotional suppression can cause alcohol and substance abuse and even suicide.
There are a number of detrimental effects of traditional masculinity on men’s mental health and well-being. Because men don’t share their feelings, and even the pain that they’re experiencing, they’re less likely to receive the kind of support, including medical attention, that they need. Around the world, data shows that death by suicide occurred about 1.8 times more often among males than among females. Many experts believe that traditional masculinity makes men more likely to put pressure on themselves to succeed and then take their own lives when they feel they have failed.
Many experts believe that embracing vulnerability would allow men to be able to express their real emotions, and therefore live more honest, healthy and pleasurable lives.
The first step for men to take in their journey towards emotional intelligence is to acknowledge that they have a problem in the first place. It is only after such acknowledgment that they are able to go about identifying and securing solutions, such as making changes in their life, seeking the sort of emotional support they require and securing the medical care that can help them along their journey.