top of page

Why Do We Run Away from Our Emotions?

Updated: Jul 8, 2023

What would happen if you stopped running away from your uncomfortable emotions? Realizing the existence of many different emotions, acknowledging them, and creating space for them helps place them in context, understand their significance, and recognize the potential they hold in our lives. Emotions are the very essence that infuses our lives with purpose, personality, vibrancy, happiness, and deep connections with others.

Emotions are an integral part of us!

Considering that emotions are an integral part of us, why do we choose to escape from them? Although emotions provide us with valuable information about our needs, frustrations, and serve as motivation for action, many people feel overwhelmed by their own emotions. They fear their own feelings and struggle to cope with them because they believe that sadness or anxiety will hinder their ability to function normally. Avoiding emotions can manifest, for instance, through suppression. As a result, individuals may resort to maladaptive emotion regulation strategies, such as overeating, substance abuse including medication, drugs, or alcohol, as well as self-harm.

Let's start from the beginning! What are emotions?

Emotions are complex psychological states that involve subjective feelings, physiological changes, expressive behaviors, and cognitive appraisals. They encompass a range of experiences, from basic sensations like happiness and anger to more nuanced emotions like envy and gratitude. The components of emotions include:

a) Subjective Experience: Emotions are intensely personal and subjective, characterized by specific feelings such as joy, sadness, fear, or surprise.

b) Physiological Responses: Emotions trigger physiological changes in the body, such as increased heart rate, changes in blood pressure, hormonal fluctuations, and activation of the autonomic nervous system.

c) Behavioral Expressions: Emotions often manifest through facial expressions, body language, gestures, and vocal tones, allowing others to perceive and interpret our emotional states.

d) Cognitive Appraisals: Emotions are influenced by our cognitive evaluations of events and situations. How we interpret and attribute meaning to a particular event can shape the emotional response it elicits.

What is the function of emotions?

Emotions serve various adaptive functions that are crucial for our survival and social interactions. Some key functions include:

a) Facilitating Decision-Making: Emotions provide valuable information about the significance of situations, guiding our decision-making processes and helping us prioritize actions based on the perceived emotional significance of events.

b) Communicating and Social Bonding: Emotions play a vital role in interpersonal communication, allowing us to express our feelings and connect with others on an emotional level. Emotional expressions are crucial for establishing empathy, trust, and social cohesion.

c) Motivating Action: Emotions motivate us to take action, influencing our behavior and driving us towards certain goals or away from threats. For example, fear prompts us to escape from danger, while desire fuels our pursuit of pleasure.

d) Regulating Social Interactions: Emotions act as social regulators, shaping our responses to others' behaviors and guiding our social interactions. They help establish social norms, facilitate cooperation, and maintain social harmony.

Why do we choose to escape from them?

The development of emotion dysregulation involves a minimizing environment. Not only does it fail to teach essential emotion regulation skills, but it also provides a fertile ground for the patient to build erroneous beliefs about emotions. If the patient's environment persistently disregards emotions, they may learn that their feelings are not important. Conversely, if the environment punishes or penalizes the expression or experience of emotions, the patient learns that their feelings are unacceptable.

The initial relationships we form with our caregivers and the attachment styles they represent have a tremendous impact. Attachment styles are categorized as secure, ambivalent, avoidant, and disorganized.

Based on attachment styles, children learn how to manage their emotions. In a secure style, children learn that they can express their emotions and that their emotions and feelings are important for others. This validation can lead to a better development of adaptive ways to cope with emotions and helps to build happy relationships. In an ambivalent style, for instance, children may learn that emotions can be overwhelming and unbearable. In an avoidant style, children may learn to suppress their emotions. In a disorganized style, children may learn that displaying emotions will be met with punishment.

In other words, the way parents responded to our emotions as we grew up can influence our beliefs about emotions and how to cope with them.

What about you dear reader?

Our beliefs about emotions influence how we cope with them. In which group are you? Are you one of those who suppress emotions and try to solve their problems by overeating or using alcohol or drugs? Or perhaps you're one of those who believe that emotions are everlasting, and the only way to overcome them is through self-destructive behaviors like forcing vomiting or self-harm?

Perhaps you belittle yourself and question your own right to have emotions. This reinforces feelings of guilt and shame associated with a particular emotion and strengthens negative beliefs about expressing emotions. Inadequate expression of emotions leads to communication disorders and adversely affects close interpersonal relationships.

Maybe you consider your emotions as a weakness? Perhaps you don't allow yourself to experience emotions due to fear what may cause ruminations or worrying. Are you capable of expressing your true feelings during conversations with your loved ones?

Regardless of what it may be, it is important to remember that emotions are an inseparable part of human nature. Revisiting and becoming familiar with them again, during the therapeutic process under the supervision of a specialistis, is a path towards their adaptive regulation and inner peace.



Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page