People who bottle up their emotions often display these 8 subtle behaviors without realizing it

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You might think you’re a master at concealing your feelings, expertly tucking them away, far beyond the prying eyes of the world.

You’ve gotten so good at it, that it’s become second nature.

But here’s the thing: no matter how much you’ve convinced yourself that you’re an impenetrable fortress, little telltale signs often sneak out, betraying the emotions you’ve tried to suppress.

It doesn’t always come as a dramatic meltdown or an emotional outburst.

Sometimes, it’s as subtle as a change in your tone, a flicker in your eye, or an unexplained shift in your behavior.

And while you might think nobody notices, these tiny changes are often glaringly obvious to the discerning eye.

This article will help you uncover those signs, those little behaviors you may be unknowingly exhibiting when you’re bottling up your emotions.

It’s about recognizing the signs that scream, “Hey, I’m not okay,” even when everything about you is trying to say otherwise.

1) They have a knack for changing the subject

Mastering the art of diversion is a common trait among those who are adept at bottling up their emotions.

You see, it’s like a well-rehearsed dance routine – the moment the spotlight starts veering towards their emotions, they divert swiftly into a safer territory.

You might be in the middle of a heart-to-heart conversation, and just when you think you’re about to uncover a layer of their feelings, they throw in a joke or switch to an entirely unrelated topic.

And you know what?

It’s done so smoothly, you might not even realize what just happened.

It’s not that they’re trying to be dismissive or rude. 

But the prospect of delving into their feelings can seem daunting, and this is their subtle way of keeping those feelings at bay.

So, if you notice someone constantly changing the subject especially when it takes an emotional turn, it could be because they’re struggling to express what they’re really feeling.

In essence, it’s their silent cry for emotional safety, even if they don’t realize it themselves.

2) I often find myself overcompensating with positivity

I’m sure we’ve all been there.

Those times you feel low yet put on a brave face and keep the smile in place, pretending everything is just peachy.

Here’s the deal: It’s like you’re playing a part in a play, with the world as your audience and you, the perennially happy character.

Let’s be honest, it’s not that I enjoy being deceptive.

It’s just that expressing my true feelings feels like an uphill climb I’m not ready to embark on.

So, I plaster on a bright smile, laugh a little louder, and make sure my energy levels are always soaring high.

And sometimes, I do it so well that even I start believing in the facade I’ve created.

But then, there are those quiet moments when reality creeps in and the smile fades away.

Just think about it.

When you see someone who always appears to be on a happiness high, look a little closer.

It’s possible that they’re trying hard to keep their true emotions hidden under the layers of exaggerated positivity. 

3) I’ve always been known as the ‘listener’

Ever since I can remember, I’ve been the ‘listener’ in my group of friends.

Everyone would share their stories, their dreams, and their fears, and there I would be, always ready with a sympathetic ear or a comforting word.

It’s not that I don’t have my own stories to share.

It’s just that I find it easier to focus on others rather than delve into my own emotions.

The thought of spilling my feelings out for others to see is intimidating, to say the least.

Take this one time, for example.

My best friend was going through a tough breakup. She was devastated and needed a shoulder to lean on.

Coincidentally, I was going through a similar situation at the same time.

However, my approach was different.

Instead of sharing my pain with her, I chose to bottle up my feelings and solely focus on helping her through her heartbreak.

Over time, I’ve realized that being the ‘listener’ has become my shield.

In a nutshell, it’s a subtle way of avoiding my own emotional turmoil.

4) There’s a reason why they call it ‘comfort food’

Ever wondered why you reach for that tub of ice cream or a bag of chips when you’re feeling down?

There’s actually a scientific explanation for it.

When we’re stressed or emotionally distressed, our body craves high-fat, high-sugar foods.

For me, it’s always been chocolate.

Whenever I’m wrestling with bottled-up emotions, I find myself mindlessly reaching for a bar of chocolate.

The truth is, I’m not even hungry most of the time, but there’s something soothing about the rich, creamy sweetness that momentarily distracts me from what I’m feeling.

And it’s not just me.

A lot of people use food as a coping mechanism when dealing with suppressed emotions.

It’s a subtle behavior that often goes unnoticed.

You might think you’re just indulging in a little comfort food, but it could be your body’s way of dealing with the emotions you’re trying to bottle up.

5) A sudden interest in solitary activities

Lately, I’ve been finding solace in activities that I can do alone.

Long walks, reading a book, or even sitting quietly in a corner with my thoughts – these have become my go-to escape routes.

Now, it’s not that I don’t enjoy the company. I do.

But there’s something comforting about being alone, where I don’t have to put up a front or worry about letting my emotions slip out.

This isn’t about being anti-social or aloof. It’s just another subtle way of dealing with bottled-up emotions.

The solitude offers a safe space, a momentary reprieve from the constant effort of keeping their emotions hidden.

So if you notice someone who used to be outgoing suddenly preferring solitude, it might be worth checking in on them.

It could be their way of saying “I need space” to process the feelings they’re not quite ready to share.

6) They become experts in self-distraction

Have you ever caught yourself mindlessly scrolling through social media, or binge-watching a TV series, not because you’re particularly interested, but to keep your mind off something that’s bothering you?

I know I have.

Here’s the thing: It’s like a defense mechanism, a subtle way of distracting yourself from confronting the emotions that you’d rather keep bottled up.

The more we fear facing these emotions, the more we find ways to distract ourselves.

These types of people bury themselves in tasks, even the ones that aren’t urgent, just to keep their minds off things.

To the outside world, it might make them look diligent and committed.

But in reality, they’re just trying to run away from their feelings.

In short, their busyness isn’t just about being productive; it’s also a shield against emotional vulnerability.

7) They’re always ‘fine’

“How are you?”

This simple question often receives the most generic response – “I’m fine.”

But when I say it, I often wonder if anyone can see through my standard-issue reply.

You see, “I’m fine” has become my go-to answer. It’s safe, non-revealing, and the perfect cloak for the emotions I’d rather keep bottled up.

And it’s not just me. People who are trying to suppress their feelings often resort to generic responses.

They’ll tell you they’re “okay”, “good”, or “fine”, even when they’re anything but.

The thing is, these responses are so common that they often go unnoticed.

But if you pay close attention, you might see the subtle signs – a fleeting look of distress, a sigh, or a slight change in their tone.

8) Emotionally charged situations make them uncomfortable

I’ve always found myself feeling uneasy in situations that have a high emotional charge.

Be it a sentimental movie scene, a friend’s teary-eyed confession, or even a heartfelt compliment – they all make me feel like a fish out of water.

Having said that, it’s not that I don’t appreciate these moments.

It’s just that they force me to confront the possibility of expressing my own emotions, and that makes me uncomfortable.

People who bottle up their feelings tend to avoid emotional situations, or if they find themselves in one, they might try to downplay it or divert the conversation to something less emotionally intense.

Not to be confused with being cold or insensitive.

On the contrary, it’s because they feel too much.

But expressing those feelings feels like opening a Pandora’s box, so they choose to keep them locked away.

In conclusion

If you see yourself in these signs, it’s possible you’ve become adept at suppressing your emotions. 

Understanding and acknowledging these subtle behaviors is the first step toward change.

You can start by bringing more awareness to situations where you find yourself avoiding emotional expression.

Notice the instances when you mask your feelings with a bright smile, or when you’re quick to change the subject when the conversation gets deep.

Now, change won’t happen instantly.

These habits have been years in the making.

But every time you choose to acknowledge your feelings, instead of hiding them, you’re taking a step towards a healthier emotional well-being.

So be gentle with yourself. It’s okay to feel and express emotions.

Remember, you’re human and it’s perfectly normal to have a wide spectrum of feelings.

Embracing them can lead you to a more authentic and emotionally balanced life.

Take one day at a time, one emotion at a time.

With patience and persistence, you’ll find the courage to open that bottled up jar of emotions.

And who knows, you might just discover a newer, more authentic version of yourself in the process.

Mia Zhang

Mia Zhang blends Eastern and Western perspectives in her approach to self-improvement. Her writing explores the intersection of cultural identity and personal growth. Mia encourages readers to embrace their unique backgrounds as a source of strength and inspiration in their life journeys.

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