Prince Harry said this to royal correspondent, Hannah Furness, during a recent interview about the death of his mother:
“I have probably been very close to a complete breakdown on numerous occasions when all sorts of grief and sort of lies and misconceptions and everything are coming to you from every angle.”
These are words not dissimilar to what is expressed in the counselling room. The experience Prince Harry described here is what happens when we shut our emotions down. Suppressing uncomfortable emotions, such as sadness, anger, fear, guilt and shame, is our body’s way of protecting us during a trauma/grief, and emotional release, in a safe environment, is our body’s way of protecting itself from further damage.
We have to work hard at shutting our emotions down, and it takes an enormous amount of emotional and physical energy to do this. As a result, we can become agitated, tense, loose motivation, and lowers our immunity. It can be difficult for those we are in relationship with, to communicate with us. This shutting down, over a long period of time, could further lead to symptoms of anxiety and depression.
When we shut down emotionally, this is what our partner experiences in relationship with us:
We are not participating in self-reflection
We are not contributing to the well-being of our relationship
We refuse to discuss certain topics
We find it difficult to calm ourselves
We avoid conflict by leaving, and return making as if nothing is wrong, and our partner feels misunderstood, dismissed and invalidated
When we continue to shut down our emotional world, and say we are fine, when we are not, our world becomes chaotic, untrustworthy and plagued by misconceptions. Emotion Focused Therapy is insight orientated, and could assist in working through emotional experiences. We don’t have to wait until we are faced with our mental health being compromised, or our relationship disintegrating.