Love, attraction, and emotions don't always make sense. For instance, even if you're already in a relationship, it's possible to fall in love with someone else. Even if you usually date a certain "type," it's possible for you to end up with someone who's completely opposite of that. You don't really get to choose who you fall for, but you can decide what to do with those feelings. According to experts, there's a really good reason why you shouldn't try to fight your feelings for someone.
In general, it's human nature to avoid things that don't make us feel good. For instance, Dr. Nora Gerardi, Psy.D., licensed psychologist, tells Bustle, many people try to push away feelings of sadness, grief, anxiety and shame. "These emotions are so tough to really sit with and feel," she says. "This avoidance can also happen when we're uncertain or second-guessing our emotions."
Although feeling in love should be a positive thing, certain circumstances like being in a relationship already or not being ready to take one on, can make someone feel like it's not. According to Gerardi, fighting feelings for someone tends to happen when we feel worried or doubtful.
"The thing about emotions and feelings, though, is that even when we push them away and fight them, they don’t actually go away," Gerardi says. "When we do this to our emotions, it's really only a temporary solution."
The more you sweep your emotions under the rug, the more it's going to build up. At some point, it's going to have to come out or it can become unhealthy for you.
What Happens To Your Body When You Try To Fight Your Feelings
"Whenever we try to fight our feelings on anything, we put the body in a tremendous amount of stress," Dr. Sherrie Campbell, PhD, clinical psychologist who specializes in relationships, tells Bustle. "This causes the body to release toxic chemicals and hormones into our systems, mainly adrenaline and cortisol."
When you try to fight or hide your feelings, you're basically keeping a secret. Studies have found that keeping secrets can be stressful on the body. According to Campbell, the main thing is your body goes into fight or flight mode, and won't function in the way that it should. You may notice things like lack of sleep, fatigue, and insomnia.
"So, when we’re having feelings for someone, we should probably not try to fight them but to sit with them and deal with them until they pass," Campbell says.
How To Deal With Your Feelings The Right Way
You can't help who you fall in love with or when. But you can deal with your feelings in a healthier way than suppressing them. One of the best ways to deal with stress is to practice mindfulness.
"It's important to acknowledge, sit with, and allow the emotional experience," Gerardi says. Take some time to yourself and ask questions like, what do I feel in my body? What is this emotion? What do I want to do about it? What am I thinking? Writing it all down in a journal can also be helpful.
According to Gerardi, when we accurately label our experiences, emotions, physiological sensations, urges, and thoughts, they feel more available to us and within our control. "This is definitely a skill and takes practice and time, but being in tune with ourselves is the first step in order to then express how we feel to others," she says. "There’s no way to accurately express what we feel to others if we can’t first do this ourselves."
Fighting your feelings for someone may seem harmless. But as you can see, it can actually be really stressful on the body. Even if you don't end up expressing yourself to the person you have feelings for you, it's important to be honest with yourself and recognize that you have feelings. You'll feel way better for it.
Dr. Nora Gerardi, Psy.D., licensed psychologist
Dr. Sherrie Campbell, PhD, clinical psychologist and author of But It’s Your Family: Cutting Ties with Toxic Family Members