Emotions do not start and stop. Emotions are continuous interpretations of our world. In the 1970s Walter Mischel’s studies demonstrated our ability to control our impulses has a huge impact on our entire life. Children who were able to postpone gratification of one marshmallow for the reward of two marshmallows if they could wait 15 minutes scored 200 points higher on their SATs a decade later. Self-control allows us to make responsible choices when faced with other appealing short-term options.
Trying to hide your feelings from someone is called “expressive suppression.” Studies show suppression is distracting because it requires having a conversation and hiding feelings at the same time. As a result, the blood pressure of the person suppressing feelings becomes elevated. Interestingly, the recipient of the duplicitous message also experiences elevated blood pressure because the expressed feelings don’t match the context. The cumulative effect of suppression overtime can be harmful to the cardiovascular system.