emotional incontinence

Today we ask that you learn to release your emotions in healthy ways.

Emotions are a lot like bodily waste.  They need to be released regularly, and in the correct places.  This may sound crude, but it is the truth.

When emotions are suppressed, they become backed up.  Pressure builds.  This leads to “emotional incontinence” — angry outbursts, rage, panic, depression.  

If you do not relieve your bladder and bowels, eventually you will have an “accident.”  

Angry outbursts, rage, panic attacks — these are the “accidents.”

“Accidents” are not always caused by emotional suppression, although this is the main cause.  Some people simply have never been trained in the correct way to release emotion, like a child who has never been “potty trained.”  So they are always spewing their negative emotions everywhere, and are generally rather unpleasant to be around.  It is easy to judge people like that, but they do not know any better.  They have not been trained.  

So what does it mean to have healthy emotional habits?

It just means that your release your emotions in a safe, regular, and healthy way.  You neither hold in your emotions until they get backed up, nor constantly spew them everywhere.  

Life tends to be full of shocks, traumas, and dramas.  It is good to cry when these things happen.  It is good to simply feel your feelings, including negative feelings.

What is not okay is to be emotionally incontinent, and spew your negative feelings all over the place — either because you are holding them in past the breaking point, or else simply think that it’s okay to spew your negative emotions everywhere.  It’s not okay to spew your rage and hysteria on other people, even hapless innocent bystanders who just happen to get in your way at the wrong time.  

It could be said that the main purpose of therapy is provide people with a healthy, regular outlet for emotional release.  A trusted therapist’s office is a safe and appropriate place for such a release.  People used to go (and still go) to weekly confession with a priest for the same purpose, though concepts of guilt, shame, and sin can muddle that process.  

If you do not go to regular therapy, writing in a journal can provide this healthy release.  Get in touch with your feelings, in a safe space.  Meditation creates a safe space to feel your emotions.  Going on a retreat, even going to a spa — these practices, these places are healthy, safe outlets for emotional release.

The emotional and physical body are deeply intertwined.  If the emotional body is backed up and toxic, physical and/or mental illness very often follows.  

You know that therapy is helpful when you feel a sense of lightness and release by the end of a session.  

Learn healthy emotional habits.  Do not be someone who is emotionally incontinent.

That said, “accidents” do happen.  Be forgiving with yourself around these incidents — they are often just a sign that there is an emotional build-up that should not be ignored.  

Perhaps thinking of difficult, emotionally unstable people as having a kind of incontinence will help you have more compassion for them.  It is really is a very accurate description of the condition.