Suppressing natural urges as “the norm”

Once again we find ourselves in the intersection of Ayurveda and Psychology because today I want to speak to you about suppressing natural urges. It’s a concept in Ayurveda that I wasn’t paying attention to very much. The reason for that was, for one, that I misunderstood it. But secondly, because I was very suppressing urges myself so probably it didn’t resonate with me. At one point, the phrase started to tickle me. What did it mean, this danger of suppressing natural urges? And probably it got more and more active in me to understand it when I was told by more than one specialist in different holistic approaches that I had been starving my organs from nutrients.

How could they say so? I was being so focused on eating the right things, always cooking my own food, having the right rhythm of sleep, exercise and food. And like most things, when we learn something about ourselves, when there’s a realisation there is also this domino effect that makes us see the blind spots and so things start to make sense in a whole new way.

Firstly, what do we mean by natural urges? Well, of course the things that come to mind for most of us are bowel movement, urination, sexual urges, hunger, thirst.  

But did you think of emotions? 

You know, when Decartes said “I think therefore I am” it all threw us back into this misunderstanding of what we truly are. Because we find it so difficult to reconnect the subtle with the gross : the non-tangible with the tangible, the manifested and the unmanifested. 

But an emotion, or a thought for that matter, are not as “unmanifested” as we might think. It’s a sensation, just like touch, taste, smell and so on. It is charge. And when we suppress it, we are already creating imbalance in the system. Because that unheard, unexpressed charge needs to go somewhere. We all know that energy cannot disappear, it transforms. It does so when it comes to water that evaporates into humidity as the pot heats up from the fire on the stove. Finally it rises, because the warm air makes it do so, and the water gets stuck on the lid of the pot that is colder than the pot so it becomes water again, drops. Energy, transitioning from one shape to another. When an emotion emerges and we suppress it in ourselves, that energy will transform as well into something. 

A lot of emotions that are suppressed tend to make us feel heavy. This is the reason that when we start therapy, we experience a very tangible sensation of lightness after each session. The same kind of lightness or release that we can feel after going to the toilet. 

So one might wonder, why would we suppress emotions? Well, because we are taught very early in life that some emotions are OK and some are not. Let me take the example of someone to illustrate this and just how detrimental it can be. 

I want to take one of the most common examples that we tend to believe doesn’t exist anymore. The idea that little boys don’t cry.

When we look at how children are being dealt with, we can clearly see that parents treat little boys and girls differently when crying. If we then fast-forward to adults, we can see that most people having anger management issues and alcohol addiction… are men. If we learn that we need to suppress our natural instinct to cry, we not only suppress the emotion linked to the crying such as fear, rejection, abandonment or grief but we also understand that we will not be loved by the parent unless we do. This can easily turn into resentment towards the parent and more so, towards every other person with whom we have relationships. The message received behind the teachings is that we are not lovable and that being accepted comes at a price.

Therefore, later in life when these boys become men, they have been dealing with suppressing emotions for so many years that they have fully mastered it. This means that they actually do not know anymore HOW to feel and so it is impossible to actually feel close to the people in their lives. Adding the fact that they feel conditionally accepted by the people they are in relationship with, anger and resentment will often be the response to any situation where fear, rejection, abandonment or grief would want to express itself. What is the best way to make yourself feel a little bit better in those moments? Using the one thing we know as an anaesthetic of sensations : alcohol for instance.

If we take a look at what most “male” dominated cultures revolve around it tends to often find it’s way to drinking alcohol. One can wonder why our culture revolve so much around this? Ask people and they will often give you the answer that it helps them to relax or to “switch off”. From what, one might ask. And that is where we see the pattern so deeply rooted and with such a socially accepted behaviour that it has become the norm….


Hi, I’m Charlotte (Yogi Cha). I’m a yoga teacher with a degree in clinical psychology. I’ve always had a deep curiosity toward eastern and western approaches to understanding the mind, and the ming/body union. You’ll find me in the lovely Canggu Bali, nestled amongst coconuts, palm trees and sunshine 🥥🌴🌞