(Distinctions are subtleties of language that, when gotten, cause a shift in a belief, behavior, value or attitude.)


Both refrain and repress are about not taking action, but each have different energy.

When you repress, you are holding back, not expressing your feelings. You are afraid to show your emotions. It is a reaction which takes energy and leaves you feeling less-than. It is the child part of you which feels it necessary to repress.

To refrain is adult behavior, a response rather than a reaction, a choice rather than a requirement. When you have something to say and refrain from doing so because you know the timing is not right, you feel in control of yourself and your emotions. You feel stronger.

Practice refraining from gossiping and you will quickly see how that behavior is different from repressing.

(To “repress” also has a meaning in psychology which is to block unpleasant memories. That is not the definition of repress used in this distinction. This is a coaching distinction, not a therapy tool.)


Copyright 2002 Steve Straus. All rights reserved.