Arnold Schwarzenegger for years kept secret from his wife the existence of a child he fathered with a housekeeper. Many other significant events were kept from her as well, such as heart surgery and even the decision to run for governor of California, which he told her he would do only a few days before the filing deadline in 2003.
He says in his autobiography, Total Recall, that his habit of putting his emotions “on deep freeze” goes back to his days as a bodybuilder, because emotions make athletes lose.
Of course that’s only partly true, since ambition, excitement, anger, and adrenalin are all major emotional factors in sports and can help bring victory. But Arnold makes the point that in many parts of life, emotions DO get in the way, and in order to keep pushing onward we sometimes have to push feelings aside.
However, as his life also attests, pushing feelings aside can lead to disasters in relationships. In psychotherapy, sometimes a goal is to take emotions out of deep freeze so disasters won’t happen. But at other times or for other people, feelings can be overwhelming and can be in the way of important goals.
These are simple but extremely important truths. In the world of psychotherapy, some say it’s all about feelings and how we must let them in and experience them. Others want to control feelings with thoughts so we can get the messy stuff (often stuff from the past) out of the way and get on with our lives.
Both approaches, and every combination of them, are valuable for different people with different needs at different times. There is no golden key to psychological health.