Dare to Be Honest
here was a time in my life when I thought that to be liked, I had to be strong, strong like the Rock of Gibraltar. Let the storms rage, the lightning strike, the winds blast, and the seas beat violently against it, and there it stands, solid and secure.
To me, fear was weak, and anger bad, so you never showed these emotions, and, as a man, you certainly never showed your hurt feelings or cried. Through years of practice, I learned to hide many of my emotions, put on a brave front, and pretend to be something outwardly that I wasn't feeling inwardly.
The trouble with being a rock, however, is that rocks don't feel. They aren't real either, and they can't relate intimately. Neither could I. Like the first man, Adam, who feared rejection, "I, too, was afraid, so I hid myself."
One of the serious side effects of denying and hiding our emotions is that we deposit them in our unconscious memory bank where they build up unhealthy interest. The payoff is that we either withdraw or become defensive, touchy, hostile, non-feeling, cold and distant, or depressed.
Or we act out these buried emotions through destructive behavior or physical illnesses. Medical science reminds us that unresolved emotions such as fear, sorrow, envy, resentment and hatred are responsible for many of our sicknesses. Estimates vary from 60 percent to nearly 100 percent.1
The point is, whenever we fail to admit our faults and talk or write out our negative feelings in creative ways, we inevitably act them out in self-destructive ways.
When denying our emotions,
we deposit them in our
unconscious memory bank.
Dr. Cecil Osborne, author and counselor writes, "Many persons bury feelings which they find unacceptable. For instance, one learned as a child that hate, greed, jealousy, fear and lust were 'bad.' 'You shouldn't feel that way,' is the message which the child received, verbally or otherwise. Furthermore, by a clever bit of unconscious dishonesty, one may have said to himself, 'A Christian never hates. I am a Christian, therefore I never feel hatred.' And the aggression which is part of the normal equipment of an average human being is then buried in the unconscious, only to come out in some unacceptable form, often as a physical symptom."2
Denial of emotions also acts as poison to relationships. It erects "brick walls" around the heart and suffocates love.
Best-selling author, Dr. John Powell, believes that "most of us feel that others will not tolerate emotional honesty in communication. We would rather defend our dishonesty on the grounds that it might hurt others, and, having rationalized our phoniness into nobility, we settle for superficial relationships. Consequently, we ourselves do not grow, nor do we help anyone else to grow. Meanwhile, we have to live with repressed emotions—a dangerous and self-destructive path to follow. Any relationship which is to have the nature of true personal encounter must be based on honest, open, gut-level communication. The alternative is to remain in my prison, to endure inch-by-inch death as a person."3
Denial of emotions also causes the exaggeration of opposite characteristics. Saccharine-sweet people often seethe inwardly with hostility. People who withdraw take their anger out on others in underhanded ways. Withdrawal is a "dirty way to fight." The dogmatic are riddled with self-doubts. The overconfident are insecure. The extremely prudish are overcompensating for sexual inadequacies. Others silence painful feelings in over-busyness or go-go-go activity, substance dependency, destructive behavior, overeating, constant talking, unbalanced religious fervor, theological rigidity, a controlling attitude, and so on.
5. All articles on the ACTS International website are by Richard (Dick) Innes unless otherwise noted.
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