We all process our emotions differently depending on how we are feeling, our communication style and our insight into what helps us to feel better. We can process our emotions in two different ways. By externalising our emotions or internalising our emotions.  

Internalising Emotions 

People who internalise their emotions will keep them inside and might have difficulties expressing them outwardly. This can include suppressing feelings, avoiding talking about them or denying the way they feel.  

People who internalise their emotions might struggle to communicate their feelings with others and might find it difficult to seek support. Someone who internalises their emotions might withdraw from daily activities, become mute, have difficulties with bowel movements or have stomach pains, bottle up their emotions, avoid conflict and engage in negative self-talk.  

Internalising our emotions can lead to feelings of isolation, loneliness and distress. People who internalise might require support to seek help, to understand how they are feeling, to express their emotions in different ways and to advocate for themselves.  



Externalising Emotions  

When someone externalises their emotions, it means they express them outwardly with actions or words. It involves conveying one’s emotions to others, either directly or indirectly, and is a way of coping with emotions or to seek support. Some people express their externalising emotions in unsafe ways such as hitting, yelling, throwing, substance abuse, impulsive behaviours or attention seeking behaviours.  


Healthy Ways to Process our Emotions  

There are times when we need support to understand the ways we express our emotions, how our expression of emotions impacts others and how this impacts our daily lives. There are healthy ways to express our emotions both internally and externally such as: 

  • Journaling: Writing down thoughts and emotions in a journal can be a helpful way to process and reflect on them.  
  • Mindfulness meditation: Practicing mindfulness meditation can help you become more away of your thoughts and feelings without getting overwhelmed by them. 
  • Creative outlets: Engaging in creative activities such as drawing, painting, or writing poetry can be a healthy way to express and process emotions.  
  • Exercise: Regular exercise can help improve mood and reduce stress levels. 
  • Self-reflection: Take time to reflect on your emotions and explore the reasons behind them. This can help you develop a better understanding of yourself and your emotions.  
  • Seek support: From a trusted friend or mental health professional. 

Always remember!  

We all process our emotions in different ways and sometimes we need support to understand why we process our emotions in an unhealthy way. Other times we need support to work through our emotions and learn new ways to navigate them. What works for one person might not work for another. It’s important to learn about yourself and gain insight into the way you navigate emotions in your everyday life.  


About the author

Rebecca Thomas

Education and Developmental Psychologist (Endorsement Candidate) B.Arts, G.D Edu, G.D Psych, G.D Psych (Adv) M.Psych (Ed & Dev) Cert Play Therapy, Cert IV in Training & As.

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