Some time ago, I said to an acquaintance “It’s possible to give up having negative emotions” and he said, “But if you suppress your feelings they’ll just come back when you least expect them.  They’ll mess with your mind and make you sick.”

Portrait of girl hiding her face under smile mask isolated on whThis wasn’t the first time someone has responded that way to my message.

Many people assume that “not having a feeling” means really having it but suppressing it.  They think you can only push a feeling out of awareness not change it.

Because a few of you might share this idea (or at least know people that do), I thought it might be useful to show you the distinction between suppressing feelings – which I agree is damaging – and getting rid of the causes of feelings (meanings) – which can be freeing.

The desire to escape discomfort

If you experience an emotion that feels uncomfortable—one you wish you weren’t feeling, like fear, or deep grief, or overwhelming rage—there is a tendency to want to stop the feeling. It doesn’t feel good to have such a feeling, so we want it to go away.

The only way most people know of to make such emotions go away is to suppress them, in other words, to block them from our awareness. That can prove difficult to do, but even when we succeed, the suppressed emotion is likely to have negative psychological and physiological effects. We may not be consciously aware of the emotion, but it is still affecting both our behavior and our body.

What happens when we try to suppress our feelings?

Most of us probably have had the experience of “pushing away” our anger and then at some later time finding ourselves experiencing anger way out of proportion to an event. What happened is that we were “anger” waiting to happen and the first event that gave rise to anger opened up the floodgates to the anger we had been bottling up. In other words, the anger (or any other emotion) doesn’t go away; we just aren’t aware of it.

Dr. Lynda H. Powell, currently Professor and Chairperson, Department of Preventive Medicine, at Rush University, has done extensive research on the relationship between mental states and heart attacks. She points out that

What we’re starting to realize now is that anger and hostility are associated with coronary disease.

… Hostility and cynical mistrust are consistently associated with coronary artery disease. The constant ongoing vigilance associated with being mistrustful appears to promote coronary heart disease by speeding up the deposition on the atherosclerotic plaques on the walls of the arteries.

How we think this happens is that the hormones which enter the bloodstream during times of stress act to keep the sticky LDL Cholesterol, which is considered the bad type of cholesterol, circulating in the bloodstream longer, and this increases the rate of blockage of the coronary arteries.

But if negative emotions are dangerous, the solution is not to suppress them, as that does not make them go away. It only removes them from awareness and they keep affecting us psychologically and physically.

If suppressing feelings doesn’t work, what does?

The alternative is to distinguish the meanings we have automatically and unconsciously attributed to events, which are the source of our emotions, and then dissolve those meanings. When the source of most of our emotions—namely, the meanings we give events—is dissolved, then the emotions disappear also.

For example, if you ask someone to do something for you and he doesn’t do it, and you give it the meaning, “He doesn’t care about me,” you’ll probably feel upset. If you realize that his failure to get what you asked doesn’t necessarily mean that, that the event has no inherent meaning and you dissolve the meaning, the upset will disappear.

You can get walked through the Lefkoe Freedom Process for dissolving meaning in my TEDx talk.

The only thing better than learning how to dissolve meaning whenever you notice a negative emotion is dissolving meaning often enough that you bypass your brain’s meaning-making mechanism, so that you rarely give meaning to events. You also can get to the point where the few meanings that do sneak though can be dissolved automatically in a split-second.

If you don’t like experiencing negative emotions, there is an alternative to suppressing them. Try it today. It really works.
Thanks for reading my blog. Please post your questions or comments on why suppressing emotions is unhealthy and unnecessary to relieve discomfort. Disagreement is as welcome as agreement. Your comments add value for thousands of readers. I love to read them all and I will respond to as many as I can.

If you want others to improve their lives as you have with the information on my posts, please share this blog post with them by using the buttons located below.

If you haven’t yet eliminated at least one of your limiting self-esteem beliefs using the Lefkoe Belief Process, go to our interactive online belief-unlearning program where you can unlearn several limiting beliefs free.

You also can find out about Natural Confidence, an interactive digital program that enables you to unlearn 19 of the most common beliefs, which cause some of the most common behavioral and emotional problems we face.

Copyright © 2014 Morty Lefkoe


  1. Aida June 29, 2019 at 4:19 am - Reply

    I’m really lucky to come across your blog Mr Lefkoe. I’ve been really suffering throughout my life. I had a feeling that my limiting core beliefs which has been rooted deep within me is the main cause of my sufferings. Low self-esteem has been the result of those sufferings. I’ve been playing the role of the victim all through and unable to come up out of this dilemma. I intend to buy your educational videos but my question is how can I contact you in person?
    Thank you.

  2. Ricky November 25, 2015 at 9:22 pm - Reply

    I found out that Morty has left the world on Nov 11 when Rodney from Lefkoe Institute sent out an e-mail to the distribution list a few days ago. I opened back up the last e-mail that Morty has sent out on Oct 28 and came to this page. Reading this last post from Morty on Nov 25 (a day before Thanksgiving in US) and the comment from ali above has caused me to reflect on what kind of impact Morty has on my own life.
    1) I am thankful that Morty has embraced the Internet Age many years ago and shares his thoughts and updates regularly on his blog.
    2) I first learned about Morty when he was interviewed by Raymond Aaron more than 10 years ago and my first impression about Morty was that he really knew how to make himself to stand out. His bold claim about eliminating negative beliefs quickly and permanently was intriguing.
    3) Although I never met Morty in person, his messages and ideas become something that I cherish and I have a particular e-mail folder just to save all his newsletters. He became one of the many gurus that I follow from time to time.
    4) He has led me to believe that one can alter or eliminate many negative beliefs in quick succession and there’s an alternate route to traditional lengthy therapy in making a positive impact in someone’s life.
    5) I semi-witnessed how his Occurrence course came to be because Morty was willing to share openly with the new ideas and discoveries along the way in many of his blog posts.
    6) In recent years, my life got a bit busier and I did not follow all his updates as I used to. The last time I paid closer attention to Morty was when he interviewed Scott Young during Scott’s year of learning different languages. Then, it came the message from Rodney about his passing. It caused me to pause and think whether I have really used his “teachings” to become a better person. Although there will be no more new blog posts from Morty, he has already accomplished quite a lot in the digital world and he will always have a place among the gurus that I care and follow.
    Thanks, Morty! Thanks, Shelly! Thank you to the ideas that you have left with us. :-D

  3. ali October 31, 2015 at 5:12 am - Reply

    Dear Morty

    i am following your blog every week, and i like your LF Method to help people.

    May i offer you to create every week youtube movie, every session people with your help eliminate their beilves, this movies will help your method to go so far around world, and more people can live happier …

    This is just a suggestion. i hope it will be helpfull.

  4. Rick October 30, 2015 at 5:34 pm - Reply

    The TEDx talk is excellent in describing how in between an EVENT and an EMOTION, there has to be a MEANING which we ascribed to the event, based on our beliefs.

    I would go further and say that there doesn’t necessarily have to be a trigger event — sometimes our beliefs cause us to create MEANING out of thin air — for example, we may assume that somebody is going to repeat a piece of irritating behavior and this causes resentment towards them, even though nothing has actually happened! Thus, 100% internally generated EMOTION.

  5. misko October 28, 2015 at 2:56 am - Reply

    you are great man lefkoe :) i wish you best health, great feelings, and anything you wish :)

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