Expressing emotions 101: Pain

We live in the part of the world where expressing emotions makes you look weak. I have been observing, and I have realized that our natural instincts; the way we were raised, is to submerge pain whenever we feel it. That is why most people going through stuff don’t open up until it’s a bit late because they feel it’s “something they can handle” and don’t want to be a burden to those around them.
Recently, I asked a question about expressing pain. I got some responses that made me see different perspectives to the subject. So, in this article, I’ll not only state my opinion, but the opinions from the responses I got. I have to thank Babajide Toluwabori, Chukwuemeka Ebubechukwu, Esele Oseefua, Opayinka Toluwanimi, Mbagwu Chukwuebuka, Eboda Motunrayo, Ukpai Blessing, Ajoku Tochi, Adetunji Oluwatobi and Egbewale Ayodeji for their priceless opinions.

I grew up being “the emotional person” and to be very honest, I hated it. So, one of the resolutions I made was to reduce expressing emotions. When I achieved this, a lot of people didn’t really call me emotional anymore. But recently, I realized that I didn’t stop being emotional, I just stop “showing” people I was emotional because I feared the remarks. Why?

Why can’t people let us cry when we lose a loved one?
What’s with the “Stay strong” remarks? Is expressing emotions a symbol of weakness? Emotions could be laughter, sadness, happiness, pain, anger, love and the likes, so why can we express some and are expected to hide the others?
I had this experience. I was going through a terrible physical pain; I didn’t even know when I started crying. It was really funny because I had never experienced such amount of pain in that period of time before and the pain kept increasing every second. My concern wasn’t even my tears, it was to simply make the pain stop.
When I was told to “control myself” I got really confused because I wondered why I would struggle to control an involuntary psychological response. Me crying was my body saying I was in pain. Why would I want to put on a facade?

But then, not everyone buys the idea of expressing emotions. The reason many don’t express their emotions is because people might see their vulnerable side and even take advantage of them. So, even though they know they might feel better expressing, they’d rather bottle up and only express their feelings when they’re alone, because they feel it’s safer that way.

We should also understand that expressing emotions is a therapy itself. You’d realize that you feel better when you express yourself. Try to imagine being in a place where someone is cracking jokes. The jokes are funny, but you refuse to laugh because you don’t like that person. You’d feel better when you allow yourself to laugh, despite your sentiments.

Another concern is that, the more you bottle up, the more you rid yourself of your compassion, that when you see others express their feelings, you get irritated because “it’s something we’ve dealt with”. The fact that you can deal with something doesn’t mean others can. Having a free mind will help us relate with other people’s emotions. In fact, one thing we should champion now, is refusing to make the same mistakes we complain about. If we want people to stop ridiculing us for expressing our emotions, then we should also learn to tolerate those who do.

The truth is, sometimes, we feel we can handle things we can’t. One of the importance of human network is to have a platform where we can help ourselves. If we always bottle up and make people think everything is fine, there would be no way those around us will know we’re in need of help.

Inasmuch as we also express our emotions, we also need to have the right audience. Expressing emotions to some people might just be a joke. They’d either laugh at us, criticize us, or gossip about the issue. When you don’t have the right audience, it could lead to frustration or depression.

Emotions don’t make you weak, they only make you as human as you are. God made us and put those emotions for a reason. Let us remember that even Jesus wept! He wept out of compassion and for the loss of Lazarus, then He also wept out pain on the cross!
Secrecy is the strength of our feelings, but transparency is like healing to our soul.

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15 thoughts on “Expressing emotions 101: Pain”

  1. I really love the last quote; Secrecy is the strength of our feelings, but transparency is like healing to our soul. This is a great piece

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  2. Truth!
    I mean, the Bible said “Jesus wept”. Like, JESUS WEPT. The Son of God wept!! What then is the fuss about expressing pain?
    I promised myself never to say “get a grip” or “don’t cry” to someone who obviously wants to and needs to let it pour.
    Since we can’t become masters of expressing emotions overnight, it’s a process, I believe responding to people differently when they express emotions is of importance.
    Nice one!!

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  3. Blessing Ukpai

    Expressing emotions is a natural phenomenon. We’re all emotional beings, bottling up emotions can be ascribed to going against our natural make-up. We all know that going against nature can sometimes be devastating. We should be free to express our emotions jare, as long as it’s with the right audience.

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      1. “Inasmuch as we also express our emotions, we also need to have the right audience. Expressing emotions to some people might just be a joke. They’d either laugh at us, criticize us, or gossip about the issue. When you don’t have the right audience, it could lead to frustration or depression.”

        So loving this paragraph. But especially the last sentence. This is why believers in church can’t even trust fellow believers with some of their feelings and pain for fear of being talked bad of. But maybe if we loved more like Jesus loved Miss Magdalene, tha’ perfect love of God upon which our faith is built will be much more effective. «Until we[believers] become dispensers of light, life and love, we are still looking at God’s intent for saving us through a straw opening and are still not seeing God’s bigger picture of salvation. “

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        1. Thank you, Bishop
          We have to learn how to tolerate people around us because, like you said, many people prefer to bottle up because they can’t trust others.

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  4. Eboda Motunrayo

    I really really love this Chisom. I believe that we should be able to get to that point where we are comfortable withe expressing our emotions especially as young adults.

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  5. Lovely write-up. If people can be more emphatic, sharing emotions will be a little much easier. Going forward, I think the need for more qualified counsellors won’t be a bad idea.

    Taking the Uk for example, people pay reasonable amounts of money to meet trained counsellors, to share some of their burdens to someone who will listen and give their advice on whatever context is being discussed.

    Having someone to talk to should never be downplayed, We are humans. We are emotional. We are Christ-like

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  6. God bless you Chisom.

    Naturally, it’s meant to be easier to express emotions than to bottle them up. But no thanks to “emotions are for the weak”, the reverse is the case now.
    Please express your emotions, but let your judgment remain sound. Remember ‘Jesus wept’, but he still raised Lazarus cause that why he was there.
    Also as already stated, make people comfortable expressing emotions around you. No one around Jesus told Him, ‘come on you are Jesus Christ, don’t cry”. Your friend is angry with you for something you did wrong, allow him/her express the anger and then pacify.
    Most times, seeing someone express emotions help you be of better help or use to the person…

    Beautiful piece Chisom, and once again God bless you…

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    1. Hmmm
      “Let your judgement remain sound”
      Emotions can make us act like we aren’t supposed to act. Or can prevent us from thinking about next possible solution. It’s important to find a balance in all these.

      Thank you very much 🙏🏽

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