When we internalize things, we direct our feelings internally. At the same time, those who express themselves externally may show up with anger or be quick to blame others. People who internalize things direct these negative emotions inward at themselves.
Internalizing things can feel like being stuck on a runaway train. People around us don’t necessarily know what is happening in our minds, and we are slow to share feelings of shame or fear. We trap ourselves in a vicious cycle of negative emotions, which can spiral us down.
When we internalize things, we compromise our happiness. This article will explore what it means to internalize things and the destructive consequences of this. We will then discuss five ways to help you stop internalizing things.
What does it mean to internalize things?
Internalizing things is a response to stress and negative emotions. While some people may lash out with anger through words or physical violence, when we internalize things, we lash out internally. Internalizing things becomes an attack on ourselves.
As a child, I wasn’t cheeky or disruptive - I was too afraid of the consequences to be so - but I had high energy levels. And heck, I was a child! Unfortunately, one of my caregivers believes children should act like adults. This attitude meant I could not figure out the world with the support and safety of nurturing adults.
I had no means of figuring out my emotions and expressing them appropriately. So I internalized things. I told myself messages of my low worth and inadequacy compared to certain siblings.
My hypervigilance to those around me reflected around internally as I parroted off damaging accusations to my soul. When we internalize things, we poison ourselves.
How internalizing things can be destructive?
According to this article, when we internalize our problems, we damage our self-esteem. But that’s not all; internalizing things impacts our overall mental health and destroys our relationships with others.
Internalizing things can lead to numerous negative issues:
Just reading that list of negative emotions makes me feel internal friction and is motivation enough to seek to avoid internalizing behaviors.
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5 ways to stop internalizing things
Internalized thoughts can become a vicious cycle. We internalize things due to feelings of shame, guilt, fear, and helplessness, and then we experience these negative emotions again from internalizing our emotions. The complexity of internalizing things can make it extremely difficult for us to seek help.
Here are our top 5 tips to stop internalizing things.
1. Work with a therapist
There is no shame in admitting you need help. For many years I read and researched to try and move beyond the anchors of my traumas. But ultimately, I couldn’t break through the wall. I eventually sought help from a therapist, and the progress I have made in almost two years indicates the value of therapy.
A good therapist will hold a mirror up to you, ask difficult questions, and help you see things in a completely new light. Things that I once internalized and blamed myself for, I learned to see in a brand new light.
Effective therapy will leave you feeling lighter, and you should experience fewer negative emotions due to working through your internalizing.
2. Find ways to express your emotions
Not all of us are creatives or comfortable expressing ourselves through the arts. But you don’t need to consider yourself talented or good at something to be able to release your emotions.
We all have ways of expressing ourselves, and pouring our emotions out through movement or art is an effective release form.
Expressing your emotions can be done in many different ways.
- Start an evening dance class.
- Learn to play a musical instrument or sing loudly to songs that you feel drawn to.
- Practice yoga and listen to what positions your body desires.
- Write down your thoughts through journaling, stories, or poetry.
A particularly effective way of releasing negative emotions that have become trapped inside is to write a letter to the person who may be at the center of these negative emotions. The likelihood is you may not send this letter, but the process of writing the letter is cathartic and provides a release for negative emotions.
3. Practice loving-kindness meditation
Loving-kindness meditation is a powerful method for inviting peace into your life and releasing internal friction.
Meditation needn’t be complicated. This article will guide you through a loving kindness practice that only takes seven minutes.
Loving-kindness is an effective way to find compassion firstly toward yourself, and once you have mastered this, you can learn to extend this compassion to those you feel warmth to, and eventually, you spread this compassion to those you may not feel such warmth for. But by sharing loving-kindness with people you feel hostility toward, you are finding forgiveness and letting go of internal friction.
4. Know your own worth
As we already established, many people who internalize things suffer from low self-esteem. As such, they don’t believe they are worthy of happiness or love. It’s time to recognize your worth.
When we behave in ways motivated by jealousy or rage, we likely won’t particularly like ourselves. So show up as someone you would like to be friends with. Tune into your compassionate side and embrace a life of kindness and compassion. As the Buddha famously said, “We become what we think,” so get hold of those thoughts and try not to beat yourself up with negative self-talk.
Living in attunement with kindness, you will start to recognize your worth.
When you extend kindness and compassion internally and externally, you invite the universe to reciprocate this on your behalf. Kindness begets kindness. And slowly but surely, you will recognize your worth.
5. Become more self-aware
We can’t do anything about it until we are fully aware of our tendency to internalize things. The trick is to recognize these habits, name them, and then try and prevent them.
These days, if I feel internal friction bubbling up, I know I need to take care of myself. I might not be able to account for why I feel like this, but I know I need to write, run, read, or find a way to distract my brain. I try my best not to give oxygen to the negative thoughts that bubble into my consciousness because as soon as we start to listen to this negativity, it can take hold of us.
So tune into your body and become aware of when you need to take action to distract yourself from internalizing things and allow these internalized thoughts to spiral you down.
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To the outside eye, someone who lashes out angrily is regarded as having more “issues” than someone who remains composed in a similar situation. But we don’t see what is going on beneath the surface. Internalizing things can have a devastating impact on our mental health and relationships, meaning it can lead to deep unhappiness.
Don’t forget our five tips to stop internalizing things:
- Work with a therapist.
- Find ways to express your emotions.
- Practice loving-kindness meditation.
- Know your own worth.
- Become more self-aware.
Do you have any tips to avoid internalizing things that you could share with us? I'd love to hear from you in the comments below!