Grief, anger, resentment, sadness, hurt, betrayal, anxiety, envy, fear and despair. All the things in life we would rather not experience. Labelled as dark (as in hidden) emotions by some, depleting emotions by others.

Like any painful experience, these are the less than pleasant emotions we would rather not feel. 

So we push them down, hold them in, ignore them, run away, numb them- all in the vain attempt to disown or disarm them. 

I’d like to explore the typical barriers and reactions that we have when depleting or dark emotions arise within us. These are called barriers because these habits simply prevent us from integrating our emotions or allowing us to become whole or authentic. It seems we spend half of our life denying our feelings, ignoring half of ourselves and wondering why we feel so anxious.

These habits are outlined beautifully in Brené Brown’s book Rising Strong and this forms a summary of her ideas.

Hurt doesn’t go away simply because we don’t acknowledge it. In fact, left unchecked, it festers, grows, and leads to behaviours that are completely out of line with whom we want to be, and thinking that can sabotage our relationships and careers” Brene’ Brown Rising Strong

Number One- Chandeliering.

Attempting to ignore emotional pain by packing the hurt so deep it can’t be touched? Think that it won’t possibly ever surface? Ever experienced the full scale eruption when some small trigger sends you into a flying rage? That’s chandeliering. A ceiling high eruption to a small trigger as a result of packing down or ignoring your emotions. 

This is a common but unhealthy habit that often results in a power over situation. In “packing down” our hurt- the spontaneous eruption often offloads onto someone of lesser authority or power within families or organisations. We cannot maintain our authenticity or integrity if we are offloading onto someone else in a reactive manner.

Number Two- Bouncing 

Consider these bouncers as protector’s of our ego at the door. It’s much easier to say ‘I don’t care’ than it is to say that ‘I’m hurt’. The bouncers will find blame, fault, excuses, payback and all forms of self protection in order to avoid simply acknowledging the feeling that is arising.

Number Three – Numbing 

Alcohol, food, drugs, gambling, sex, shopping, netflix, planning, perfectionism, constant change, busyness, work. All used by many of us to cover up and hide our dark emotions. However no matter what we use, we cannot ‘selectively numb’ our emotions. Any numbing habit we choose also numbs our joy, our love, our light. A blanket of numbness covers the lot.

Number Four- Stockpiling

Starts like chandeliering with us firmly packing down and hiding our depleting emotions. However rather than the eruption or outburst, we continue to hold our pain until the body decides enough is enough. The body symptoms can include sleeplessness, anxiety, depression pain, autoimmune disorders. There is a strong link between our emotional well-being and our bodies. As a physiotherapist of over 20 years I have seen the effect of stockpiling on patient’s health and this is also written about in The Body Keeps Score by by Bessel Van De Kalk

Run but we can’t hide.

Dark emotions are part of the human experience. Navigating depleting emotions is the skill worth acquiring! Like to read more about navigating depleting emotions? Read more here 

Niky Hamilton’s mission is to inspire and empower women to Rise UP and transform through life challenges with grace, courage and authenticity.

She is a qualified physiotherapist, a mindfulness meditation teacher and a Demartini facilitator. Her expertise in women’s health, building resilience, navigating grief and supporting women through life’s hurdles offers you the perfect chance to press pause and nurture yourself on one of her resilience retreats.

Find out more here!