Its Surprising Damage in Your Life and What to do About It
Stand-up comedy, a loving offering of cake baked especially for a diabetic you by your grandmother, the sweetness of a friend who convinces you to act against your desires, the betrayal of your shared secrets by a co-worker, physical pain –what could these items possibly have in common? The answer is … they are all examples of suppression in action.
The verb “to suppress” is defined as an action that stops or puts an end to the activities of a person or group of persons; to vanquish or subdue.
According to Jay Carter, PsyD, in his book Nasty People, suppression (or invalidation as he calls it) can go undetected and therefore unchallenged but it can deliver a lifetime of damage that creates emotional baggage for the suppressed/invalidated.
Suppressors behave in a manner that manipulates and abuses others (mentally/emotionally, sexually and physically). Their actions can hold you back, invalidate who you are, shut down your authentic self-expression, and ultimately cause a detrimental disconnect from your emotions which in turn separates you from the very essence of your spirit and your humanity.
Spotting Suppression in your life:
You encounter suppressive acts every day in subtle and overt ways. The delivery may be conscious or unconscious in the perpetrator but the effects are the same – they cause the receiver to act in a manner that is unnatural to his/her true nature and to feel drained of energy. Suppression can source from your closest relationships, your workplace, your friends and your culture. There are some common characteristics that will help you notice even its most stealthy forms (in others and in yourself):
- Negativity that kills optimism.
- The need to control situations, dominate conversations, and be the authority in such a way as to diminish others’ importance.
- The persistent need to be right and thus the need to make others wrong.
- Those who restrict freedom of expression and cause tension and discomfort when you are around them.
- Those who judge anyone who does not live up to their standards, who see themselves as superior to others.
- Those who are sweet and loving to your face but do not hesitate to backstab whenever they get an opportunity.
- Those who offer non-negotiable ultimatums: “Either my way or the highway”.
- Those who cause our emotions to roller coaster from enthusiasm to depression.
“Suppression once begun, usually results in building layer upon layer of suppression and the more or less steady withdrawal of the spirit body from the physical body” (Vivation, Leonard, Laut, 1991).
- When you are in the grip of suppression, your behaviours will also reflect its presence: Doing drugs? Watching a lot of TV as a distraction? Dismissing emotional matters as unimportant? Procrastinating rather thanacting? Engaging in self-deprecating language or humour? Feel lethargic? Weak? No vitality?
- Your body is also a reliable resource and clear communicator to help you discover the presence of suppression. “When people get sick or contract diseases or have no energy, these are clear symptoms in our bodies that signify suppression.” (Breathing Into A New Life – Stamoulos, 2015)
It is significant to note that suppressive behaviours won’t work unless you allow yourself to be suppressed, so it is important to find ways to strengthen your ability to identify, resist and heal suppressive situations in your life. Some of the tools that can be used to steer away from suppression include:
Cultivate Awareness. In order to change the influence of suppression over us, it is necessary to be in touch with what we are feeling in any interchange with another and to be able to discern both high and low emotions that are the hallmark of roller coastering.
Do Breathwork. When you have the courage to face your suppressed feelings through a process like Breathwork, you can release and reconnect at a conscious level with your emotions. Breathwork is the doorway to accessing and freeing deeper, blocked feelings. That is its true power and magic.
Develop Self-Love. The stronger one’s self-love (which includes in part – setting boundaries, not always saying ‘yes’, being in integrity, being in touch with our vulnerabilities and sensitivities and standing up for ourselves), the less likelihood of being caught up in the drama of suppression. Breathwork is a potent generator of this essence.
Claim Victory over Victimhood. What feeds suppression is our willingness to play the victim. Every suppressive act needs a victim. When you choose to walk away from the entanglement of victim and perpetrator, there is no possibility of it sustaining. Sometimes it may mean leaving a relationship or walking away from a job but in the end, it is the healthiest and more selfless act of love. The intelligence of Breathwork offers you the perspective to change course.
Communicate Honestly and Clearly. Suppression is not a factor when you have access to your feelings and a healthy way to recognise and express them. By being more confident, you can clearly state what you need and want without guilt or self-suppression. Knowing how to communicate to suppressive people is vital.
Suppression is intrinsically damaging to our whole psyche and spirit. It sucks the life force out of us until we are exhausted. It is a complex mechanism in our reality that has many layers and affects our lives in so many different ways. That is why it is so important to have a clear sense of self-love and self -respect. We need to watch our own behaviours too in order to identify where we are suppressing or invalidating someone else. Because I believe this is such an important life skill to develop, I present a workshop about it so people can become more adept at recognising all the subtle suppressions in their lives and develop tools to work with it.
The more I love myself, the less I need to earn love from others and the less likelihood that I will allow suppression to affect me. Breathwork is key in opening up my true essence and living from it.