Few of us are comfortable truly feeling our emotions. We find ways to ignore them, distract ourselves from them, or displace them. In many Western cultures, the idea that boys don’t cry is still prevalent, which can generate the belief among men that suppressing emotions is a positive thing to do. Even those of us who aren’t explicitly told to suppress our emotions grow up emulating our parents and other adults around us. If they deny their emotional reality, we internalize the idea that we need to do the same.

Unfortunately, suppressing emotions can lead to unexplained low moods and a sense of disconnection, or even depression. If we lack an appreciation of our inner worlds, we may adopt behaviors to actively avoid our emotions. This can make us prone to unpredictable behavior such as outbursts of anger or social withdrawal, emotional eating, or excessive social media use. All these behaviors are rooted in an effort to numb our feelings, or distract ourselves from them.

Emotions are critical to living a full life, so we need to feel them and learn to understand what they mean to us. In the NVC community, our emotions are seen as a guide to accessing and interpreting our unmet needs.