Deny Your Feelings And Deny Yourself


By Marla Bollak


I remember once sobbing hardinto my pillow and thinking, “It’s in times such as these that I am most alive.” What a strange thing to think in between sobs and snotlaced gasps. It was really messy; sort of like life itself.


No, I’m not a masochist, and I wasn’t enjoying this time with nothing but my bedcovers and pain as my companions, but I was feeling—really deeply. I was in touch with my despair—and with myself. I can’t remember today what touched off this episode, but I do remember the feelings—or the traces of them. This wasn’t an isolated incident, but it is one that has not visited me for quite some time. For that I am grateful. For that I have worked very hard and long, and it’s been well worth it. There have been many times over the years when I wasn’t sure it would turn out so well, but I wasn’t willing to stop trying different things. There were times when I prayed to be spirited away—before falling off to merciful sleep. So far, that hasn’t happened. And I am here to tell you that life has improved immensely.




I’ve often wondered what makes us different from spirits. I always come back to the same obvious fact. We are sentient beings inhabiting physical bodies. We can feel. It seems to me that I should want to take advantage of this ability to feel — the full spectrum. My time here is limited and I want to take the most advantage of it. It may not be fun, but it is mine to experience. Do I seek out difficult situations and ways to be hurt? Not at all; but since they find me, I rise to meet them and to take full advantage of them. In fact, I welcome them as opportunities to heal and grow. I believe them to be triggers that open existing, buried wounds that are ready to present themselves for healing. And that is what I seek to do. Because healing pain works a lot better than striving to bury it.


This may sound crazy in these times when we are told that we all can easily create happy lives filled with abundance. There are countless programs that promise simple ways to manifest whatever you want in life. Hugely popular books and seminars claim to share simple techniques that yield lasting success in any chosen area. Change your language, stop watching the news, fake it till you make it, recite carefully crafted affirmations, choose to believe, etc, etc.


With the proliferation of these simplesystems, why are there so many unhappy, struggling people? How many of them have read these books or attended these seminars? I know I have. How many of them feel worse about themselves because the systems don’t work for them, and now they feel like failures at applying these simple techniques? I know plenty of people who do.


Fake it till you make it? Look away and pretend the painful doesn’t exist? How exhausting! How long can somebody keep on faking it while not exactly making it? How many times can they say, “Love and light” through gritted teeth and clenched fists? Where I come from, this is called denial.


Faking and pretending only work in some circumstances and in short bursts. Denying one’s feelings doesn’t work. If you choose to deny your anger, you may not think you’re angry, but people around you probably do. They may not say anything because they’re so busy denying their own feelings.


Here’s a thought: Don’t feel bad about feeling bad and not being able to just think happy thoughts. It may work for some people, but not for anyone I know. Not really. Does it help to think positively? Absolutely – but not at the expense of denying how you really feel. Take care of your feelings and you will ultimately feel better – authentically.


Focus on the positive, yes. Ignore the pain, no. When you deny your feelings, you deny yourself.




It seems to me that, if it was really so easy to simply choose happiness, most everyone would be doing it. I know I would. Even though I would be missing out on so many other experiences, I would choose happiness and joy and ease every time. My soul directs me otherwise.


Very few of us want to feel pain. When we do, our first instinct is to do whatever we can to feel better in that moment. It’s easier to ignore unpleasant feelings than to experience them long enough to glean the wisdom they offer. The question is, do you want to be healthier, or do you want to just feel a little better now?


Here’s an idea. Instead of stuffing your feelings, feel them. Listen to them. Let them inform you, because that’s what they’re designed to do. They’re your feelings. Own them. Yes, this takes fortitude and courage and it is so worth it. When you burn yourself, do you pretend that you didn’t get hurt, or do you put ice on it? The ice may not feel good, but you know it facilitates the healing process.




We’ve been raised in a world where we take pills to cure what ails us. We think that once our emotional ills are cured, we will live happily ever after. In fact, pills don’t cure anything. They mask symptoms, and often to our detriment. We think that we can cure ourselves emotionally, as well. Find what’s wrong with us and fix it. Then we’ll be cured, and the rest of our life will proceed with ease and joy. The truth is that healing is a lifelong process. Life is fraught with pain and despair intermixed with pleasure and joy.


“Life is pain, Highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something.” – Carey Elwes as Westley in The Princess




If you can learn to appreciate all that life offers—betrayals as well as triumphs— you will live a full life. It’s a tricky proposition, one that I am finally finding easier to achieve. It starts with awareness; paying attention to my feelings and honoring them, even as I want some of them to just go away. Next is taking responsibility for my feelings instead of blaming others. Then attending to those feelings; digging underneath them to find the thoughts that fuel them; the old wounds that need to be healed; the things that need to be released.


I plan to live this life until my final breath. Until then, I will do my best to not abandon myself; to listen to my feelings and to understand what they reveal to me. It’s not an easy road, and it’s taken a long time to see substantial results. At some point, a shift occurred in me that took me to a new plane of understanding and a new level of consciousness that is sort of magical. So, when you’re tired of working so hard and still feeling bad, take a rest, but don’t give up on yourself. I don’t know how far any of us who embark on this road will make it, but I do know this. If you give up on yourself, it’s over. So, don’t do that.


I leave you with the rousing words spoken by Sigourney Weaver as First Lady Elaine Barrish on the television show, Political Animals:


“Most of life is hell. It is filled with failure and loss. People disappoint you. Dreams get lost, hearts broken. And the best moments of life when everything comes together are few and fleeting. But you’re never going to get to the next great moment if you don’t keep going. So, that’s what I do. I keep going.”


One final thought: Don’t feel bad about not having attained all of your dreams. Maybe you’re not supposed to.


Marla Bollak is a Psychic Life Coach who creates the space for midlife women – and men – to move beyond the labels of society and the expectations of others in order to discover who they are and how they want to express themselves in the world. Her website is

Sandi Tomlin-Sutker
Written by Sandi Tomlin-Sutker