The Tears I Didn’t Cry, the Sadness I Ignored

· November 11, 2015

Repressing our emotions is something we all do, some more than others. Sometimes, what we’ve been taught to do since childhood; the idea has been instilled in us: Don’t cry; big kids don’t cry. Strong people never show their tears.”

Maybe, now, as an adult, we always look for lonely little corners where we can let off some steam, where we can let our voices and our pain out. In this way we free ourselves of those burdens, finding relief in privacy, and emerging, unchanged to the public eye, to move forward.

However, some people not only avoid emotional release but, either because of upbringing or personality, prefer not to feel at all. Betrayal, oblivion and sadness are hidden under the mask of a smile and they turn the other cheek to their inner voice.

Emotional repression is the opposite of emotional understanding. Someone that hides is someone that does not wish to understand the labyrinthine nature of the emotional network that defines them as a person, because admitting our fragility is also learning to be strong. It is knowledge against denial against weakness.

Emotional repression, a step into the abyss

Emotional repression literally means the act of containing or moderating your impulses, instincts, passions, or feelings. It’s the process of hiding something inside not only from the world’s eyes, but also from yours. Why? Sometimes it is difficult to understand why, but psychologists talk about educational patterns as well as social, psychological and even biological processes.


The opposite of repression is emotional empathy. This involves inclusion, intimacy, and empathy for others and ourselves. Emotional intelligence is the most useful, most valuable kind of intelligence we could have.

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So why do we choose to silence our sadness? Why is emotional repression sometimes more useful to us?

  1. It is a defense mechanism. If I don’t react to your betrayal or other wrongdoing, and I choose instead to move on as soon as possible without stopping to think about what I feel, I can avoid recognizing the pain you have caused me, and that pain will not seem to affect me.
  2. It is a strategy of self-protection. If I hide my sadness and pain, I will avoid looking like a victim to others – showing my emotional pain is showing vulnerability and losing control, and that is something that not everyone will accept or can handle.
  3. Emotional ignorance. It may surprise you, but there are people who, for whatever reason, have not been exposed to suffering, failure, or disappointment. For example, consider many of the youths in today’s society, educated in a culture that covers every one of their needs, where they develop a very low tolerance for daily frustrations. If they experienced loss or failure of something important to them, the most likely result would be their feeling overwhelmed or simply “locked.” In those situations, people simply opt for denial or emotional support.

The tears you do not cry today will be unfathomable voids tomorrow. Unacknowledged sadness brings you closer and closer to the edge of an abyss into which you could fall in the form of illness or trauma.

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How should we face sadness and disappointments?

We have to realize that happiness does not come with a guaranteed duration. Acceptance of the present moment, with all of its gray tones, is as good way to live with greater integrity and emotional balance, where sadness is taken on as a part of life and of our growth.

Sometimes we have the ability to separate our inner reality from external reality. The reason for this? We disconnect from our emotions and from inner selves, hiding behind a mask of well-being. But then come the migraines, the fatigue, and muscle pains that we cover up with painkillers, not knowing that they are symptoms.

Symptoms of unhappiness, of tears we did not cry when we should have, of sadness we refused to acknowledge and manage – symptoms that have now taken us hostage.

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Never leave for tomorrow tears you could cry today. Vent your rage, cry out your grief, and take responsibility for your failures instead of hiding them. Emotional understanding is a form of release we should practice every day.