Repressing and dissociating

So I’ve noticed recently a lot of improvement in myself to do with recognising what emotions I’m feeling when asking myself HAIETMOBA. In the past when I first came across AF and applying HAIETMOBA I found it really difficult to recognise what emotions I was experiencing. It was almost like I couldn’t tell what emotions were going through me but I could recognise physical symptoms if that makes sense? For example, before one of my club dancing gigs as @Kub933 was dropping me off at the club I began to feel a tightness in my chest and my heart started pounding. I remember telling him I could feel these physical symptoms of anxiety but I didn’t “feel” anxious. I think this was because I was so used to dissociating and repressing my feelings that when it came to looking at them it was almost like there was nothing there at all and it took a lot of sitting there and really delving into my mind for me to recognise my emotions. ( I remember whenever I used to ask myself HAIETMOBA the answer was always “I don’t know”) Now it’s getting easier and quicker for me to actually experience my feelings without repressing them. I’m still working on not expressing them though as I do tend to burst into tears when the slightest bit upset :joy:


@Sonyaxx nice work Expression is still better than repression, because there is an awareness there of what the emotion is. You’ll find that once you move from bodily cues to more psychic awareness of emotions, it is a more sensitive and responsive instrument and you’ll be able to get back to feeling good more easily. But you may want to spend time just experiencing feeling your unrepressed emotions and becoming familiar with them, without being too hasty to move them on.


Thank you @Srinath I’m definitely still in the place of learning how to recognise my emotions and experiencing them but I’m really happy with the improvement I’ve made so far :slight_smile: to be honest I’m excited about this adventure of becoming more aware of my feelings! just still feel a bit bad when @Kub933 there for what it feels like my end of the world crying :joy:


Is it possible that the repressing and the bursting into tears easily can be related (one feeds the other)? As in one of the reasons why it is so easy to burst into tears is because that sorrow is being normally shoved/held back somewhere deep and because of this the floodgates can open unexpectedly.

One of the beneficial things of no longer repressing emotions is that they are no longer building up inside of what can be like a pressure cooker. This was my experience not so much with repressing sorrow but anxiety. That the emotion and the repression almost begin to feed off each other and in this way they build in intensity until they become truly problematic.

So I guess the resolution needs to come from both angles, one is to slowly end repression by allowing yourself to feel the emotion fully and on the other front you begin to realise that this emotion is actually not as ‘scary’ as you believe and you begin to develop confidence in looking at it without expressing.

This is at least the process that happened for me once I stopped Spirituality and began applying the actual freedom method.

The other thing that could be here (and let me know if I am off) is a belief that if you do express the emotion that something ‘bad’ will happen? This of course would serve to once again repress until the floodgates inevitably open and the cycle continues.

What you might find is that even the times I have been frustrated when you cried, there was ultimately no ‘danger’, the frustration was simply my automatic emotional response, something related to me specifically.
I think seeing this may help, that there is ultimately no ‘danger’ to expressing the emotion but it is just that ultimately neither expressing nor repressing makes the most sense.

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I can relate to this, as the result of my intensive meditation practice was that I wouldn’t experience emotions the usual way anymore, rather I experienced it all as ‘physical tension in my head’.

What I came to recognize is that when I felt physical tension in my head, I was actually experiencing an emotion, but repressing it. So that became my trigger to become aware that I was feeling something. It sounds like for you you can pick up on other physical symptoms - tightness in the chest or increased heart-rate.

What I found effective as a next step was to ask myself, “Ok, let’s say I am experiencing a negative emotion… what is it about? What is bothering me?” The really funny thing is that the next immediate thoughts would be “Well it can’t be A, that doesn’t really bother me, and it’s not B or C either, because I don’t really care about those, and it isn’t D…” Whereas A, B, C, and D were precisely, exactly what was bothering me!

So I came to see that whatever thoughts naturally arose/came up when I asked myself what’s wrong, the content of the thoughts (i.e. what they were about) was precisely what was bothering me, whether I was denying it or not.

Once I started to became comfortable with and able to admit to myself that things do bother me, that really made things a lot easier. And I’ve still had this even relatively recently, being ok with admitting something is bothering me - so it wasn’t an all-or-nothing flip of a switch.

The key seems to be being ok with experiencing negative feelings… once you become ok with this and you see that it’s not the end of the world, it doesn’t mean you are a ‘bad’ person (besides which it’s silly to categorize people as ‘good’ and ‘bad’ anyway), then that really takes the edge off the emotion. And then you can start finding it funny instead :smiley: .


Yeah I definitely see how repressing my emotions can end up with a pressure cooker effect. I think now because I’m actually starting to feel these emotions it’s hard for me not to express it as it feels far more intense because I’m not repressing it anymore. It’s almost like this assault on my body that I am not familiar with and my reaction to it is to cry, wether I’m annoyed, sad, angry, or even excited or overly happy I can feel tears begin to well up.

Logically I know that there is no “danger” when I’m crying and you get frustrated. I think it’s just when I’m in that place of feeing really intense emotions I’m just looking for comfort and someone to connect to which isn’t really what we do :joy:

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I think for me in the past, whenever I felt negative emotions it would always lead to a panic attack so overtime I repressed those emotions so much. The benefit was that I reduced my panic attacks but unfortunately it added to the pressure cooker analogy and was very frustrating when trying to investigate my emotions. Now I’m in a much better place where I guess I feel safer to not repress because I’m better at regulating panic attacks. There’s still a lot of tears but I don’t feel like I’m dying which is great! :slight_smile:

My process of thought when trying to figure out my emotions is very much like yours too! A lot of questioning until I get to the core of it xx


Some tip you might find useful too…

I never actually had a panic attack, but I’ve come close on a few occasions. What I always did is think ok am I physically safe on a basic level here? Ok I’m in this room, I’m breathing , the walls exist, the bed i’m on exists , I’m here , nothing is happening , I’m not in actual physical danger … etc. sort of a basic check-in with my senses and my surroundings. And for me this always ceased the escalation - I would remain at high anxious / fearful state first but then it’d gradually decline.

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This is a fantastic insight, almost a “cheat sheet”! :clap::joy:

Hopefully not to de-rail the thread, but that was exactly my experience (learnt the really hard way) regarding relationships. I had strongly denied believing in the One for 20 years, only to find out that is exactly what i had been believing in and longing for more than anything.

In short, to summarise it; one could look to what one denies is the problem/feeling to find the problem feeling.


I actually posted about this very thing happening when I first joint zulip a while ago. I was getting to grips with Actualism and I remember I was in a sour mood that day and could not work out what triggered it.

I was talking to my girlfriend at the time and saying “well it definitely wasn’t my boss being rude to me that triggered me”, the very moment I said those words it clicked that this was precisely what triggered me :joy: and all of a sudden I was back to feeling good.

That was a super useful experience to see this whole process of tracing back, finding trigger, seeing it as silly, back to feeling good. In that moment that is precisely what happened and the discovery of the trigger was really surprising, it was the last thing I was willing to admit, hiding in plain sight.


Yea it’s funny that you really have to actually know what is bothering you in order to deny it :joy:. Obvious in hindsight …


I think this is a useful angle in all this, basically reducing the sense of danger in all directions.

We already know it’s ultimately ok if we express emotions, as we have done that many times in the past.

We already know that it’s ultimately ok if we supress emotions, as we have done this many times in the past as well.

But we do see that those actions do lead to more of the same: constant emotional expression is not comfortable, and constant emotional supression leads to a feeling of ‘deadness’ and occasional explosions of more emotion than ever.

So then it becomes pretty simple to have an interest to neither supress or express, to sit and watch with interest, and with the security of knowing that ultimately it’s ok.

Something that has helped me a lot lately is recognizing that it’s both normal and unavoidable to have emotions, and it’s normal and unavoidable to not have the perfect ways of coping with them. That’s just where I am at right now. But I am interested in doing better, so I keep picking all this up and chipping away at it.


This strikes me as to be expected, you have repressed/suppressed for so long that you’re not quite sure what to do with your emotions when they come out.

Emotions also have an inherently ‘convincing’ quality, in other words you by definition believe your own emotion because it is you / yours. I spent several hours last night talking with a friend who had a lot of anger, she has a similar history of suppression and told me that it’s only in the last year that she’s felt that she’s been able to allow her emotion to express. With that has come a sense of ‘right,’ which is to say “I’m done suppressing! I’m going to express my emotions, that is my right!”

Which again is ultimately fine, but it doesn’t mean that it’s useful to express the emotions. It’s even more useful to watch the emotions, to understand them, to be ok when they come along.

And, again, it is an unavoidable phase that you don’t quite have a ‘handle’ on them at this time. It is to be expected.


Oh, and: the emotions are always intense when they’re genuinely felt. It’s not for nothing that Richard says all this takes intestinal fortitude! We tackle as much as we can, little by little, and get better and better at it.


Hi @claudiu, eventually I reached a point when able to do this. My first panic attack though was the second day after my accident of being run over. For months I was in too manic or distressed a state to be able to even apply such thinking, or HAIETMOBA, or anything that would be deem sensible. I was experiencing pure and utter dread. It was like my brain was scrambled.

In time though, such thinking could begin to emerge and help, both with the help of medication but also the realisation of the accepting the fact that I am not dying immediately. My dad who was very ill at that time as well helped, with his expressions of look how much I am suffering and close to death, its ok its not a big deal. It really helped having someone the opposite to my mentality put that in perspective. The fear of health and disease is a big problem for me. I know it stems from the uncertainty of having ill parents, other people have met from similar backgrounds have had the same issue.

As I recovered, you realise that as you “survive” panic attacks you accept the fact you are not having a heart attack, a stroke, brain damage and are not imminently dying or losing control so that the reality of “you can survive this” starts to endure. The highest level of anxiety and panic attack creates an alternate illusion, it is like anti-faith. Faith can move mountains, anxiety can make the mountain drop rocks to fall on your head and crush you to death and you will truly believe you are crushed.

Over the years a few other things have triggered panic attacks like when my dad reached the end of his fight with cancer. But they were never as bad as those first months after my accident. Now the last 7 or so panic attacks I have had, the experience is best described like a glitch in my body, it is going through the flight or fight reaction, shakes, etc but I am not invested in the experience. I just let my body do what it needs to do and it wears off, each time quicker than the last.

On the subject of repressing, I find it strange how many people from the spiritual background seem to repress so many emotions. It seems quite hilarious and absurd to me that an atheist such as myself and friends are more in touch with our emotions than these people dedicated to enlightenment.

This is not to say that I don’t repress though. I have found most of my repression has come from avoidance of more extreme emotions in painful life encounters rather than repression of day to day feelings. Events linking to traumatic family experiences, parents ill health, personal suffering, physical or emotional, embarrassment etc etc.

Strangely, it was my accident that also brought all of these repressed feelings suddenly exploding out all at once. It was like the life flashing before your eyes moment fearing you might die but I was ok and had survived, instead you are left with all of the undealt with emotions coming to the surface. This happened right in the middle of what I deem my most productive/successful period as an Actualist and I believe that being accepting of what I am feeling also helped open those floodgates and not lead to them being further repressed. However, due to the anxiety and depression I was experiencing I just wasn’t ready for it.

Why is repressing and disassociating so common? Do you think it is common among other people too, not just those on the spiritualist path? Is it like some kind of defence mechanism?

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Maybe it’s not emotion per se that is repressed and disassociated with, but rather intelligence.

Something to do with the plainly obvious is repressed then projected.

What is doing this repression? How is this a useful thing?

I read today about Richard’s advice to defeat “blind nature”. I played with the thought. It didn’t have much appeal.

Perhaps it’s the immediate intelligence, the pragmatic knowledge that one has no choice but to “deal” which is repressed. It’s too simplistic. Too obviously the only option. One wants something profound. Some deep and meaningful purpose to the absurdity of feeling shite.

Pragmatic and simple. Naive and guileless. Why are such things so vehemently opposed?

Yes, it is true regarding the need for the profound.

I think there is repression for both emotions and intelligence.