I've always thought of myself as being quite assertive. I'm sure people who know me would've backed that up, thinking I was confident and articulate.
But tbh I was kinda faking.
I wasn't always the open, assertive book I made myself out to be because far from speaking my truth, I was typically someone who bottled things up.
When push came to shove I'd pretend to be ok with stuff I wasn't ok with. When it really mattered I was too scared to be real, to be true and to express myself in a way that honored myself and my integrity.
Instead I'd let things build. I'd go about things in a round about way. I'd complain to others, but not address the one person I was really mad at. Sometimes I'd be pushed into confrontation, but because I'd been bottling things up nothing would ever come out the way it should've.
It wasn't my fault.
I simply didn't know how because I'd never been taught. Quite the opposite. From a very early age I'd been conditioned through fear to keep quiet. Although I rebelled in my teens (boy did I rebel) by then my nervous system was already wired to fear confrontation and my belief system locked into the story that it wasn't safe for me to speak up.
I'd never learned how to truly express myself and be ok with stating my needs. So I kept it all in. I bottled it all up.
I also had a lot of stories going on inside that kept me playing out old patterns and programs that always ended up the same way: me being hurt.
I was so good at bottling things up that I didn't even know half of what was in there.
I was also really good at operating from a place of not rocking the boat, seeking approval and not causing too much of a fuss, just in case I'd be punished.
All that fear kept me bottling things up.
Where bottling things up hurts us most is in our relationships. If we don't learn how to communicate from the heart and if we're too afraid to speak up when we need to, we not only miss the opportunity to be heard but we open ourselves up to being poisoned by everything that's left unsaid.
Every unspoken word festers.
Every crappy story expands and before we know it we have a big, stinking pile of resentment and suppressed anger that slowly but surely begins to first poison us and then poison our relationship.
Sometimes until there's nothing left.
Worse still, what we keep inside eventually spills out into our lives. It can't not because it simply doesn't belong inside of us. We're not designed to hide things from ourselves or others, because when we do we're out of alignment with our truest self. And that creates immense damage in our internal and external world.
Bottling things up keep us in a state of mistrust and anxiety, it robs us of sleep and peace of mind.
We have one story going on in our head whilst we pretend to live out another one. We end up shutting down when we need to open, withdrawing when we should be forthcoming. We feel powerless and resentful and we end up in a cycle of blame that leads us deeper into the depths of hopelessness as everything we've bottled up eats at us from the inside out.
And we drift.
Not just from our partners and loved ones, but from ourselves.
We drift so far we don't know where to begin, or how to get back to where we want to be.
And slowly our lives spiral out of control as they start to reflect back to us everything we're holding onto inside. Because it's all energy. And energy attracts its like. We start to meet the chaos in our friendships, at our work, with our neighbours, at school, in our kids, everywhere we go we start to see the same toxic pattern unfolding.
We'll always be shown whatever's not working in our lives by what's being reflected back to us. If we're bottling things up we will keep coming up against situations that call for us to heal and resolve the old energy we've kept stuck inside. Each drama presents us with the opportunity to let things out and learn to do things differently.
To find a new way.
To right the wrong belief, fix the faulty pattern, let go of the old story and learn how to speak up and be live in our truth.
If we don't, we'll keep suffering, because everything we've held onto inside won't go away. Heck no, it grows.
And it grows. And it grows.
I learned the hard way. Which is often the only way, because when its hard you listen. I got so fed up dealing with the fall out of bottling things up that I finally made a commitment to myself to start anew and honor myself and my truth.
i decided to act only from integrity, always, even it meant being uncomfortable and saying the hard stuff. I decided to cut people out of my life who couldn't handle me being honest because they themselves were bottling things up.
I got good at recognizing the signals from my body that warned me about drifting and I made a commitment to myself to be the most open, honest, loving, version I can possibly be. Re-f*cking-gardless.
I also stopped taking on other peoples sh*t, and realised that it wasn't up to me to shelter people from truth, but to honor that truth and in doing so example courage and openness and give them permission to do the same. I realised that even if it meant letting someone down or causing a rift, the only way to truly honor myself and every relationship I come into contact with is by being willing to be honest.
It wasn't easy, but it sure was worth it.
I had to retrain my nervous system to be ok with speaking up. I had to smash though the story that it wasn't safe (actually its always safer to speak up because bottling it up ends up so much worse!)
I found all the parts of me that bought into the old bottling up pattern and I dismantled them one by one. And what I found was the truest part of myself who'd been there all along, waiting to be seen, heard and respected.
Bottling things up never works and the price is just too high.
But we do it because a part of us needs to in order to be safe. We have to discover that part and work through it, and then we have to step up and own who we are. We have to know that what we have to say needs to be said because we need to align with the truth of our soul.
And in the absence of our bottled up emotion, we are no longer held prisoner by our unspoken words, stories and old dysfunctional patterns. Instead we become aligned with the authentic, loving and courageous self who no longer needs to hide, or be afraid.
And that's the place of peace.
Are you someone who bottles things up? Is it affecting your relationships and would you like to learn how to work through everything you're holding on to? Reach out for a free 20 min discovery call and find out how I can help. Bottling things up is not about who you are, it's what you've been taught to believe, and thankfully that's something we all can change!