Many people simply do not know how to express their emotions. This is quite shocking when you think about it.
They know they have a lot of uncomfortable emotions, but they don’t know how to name them, let alone express them to another human being.
This is so sad because to live with your emotions bottled up, is to feel so alone. It doesn’t have to be this way. You just have to learn how to express them in a healthy way.
When I was younger, I didn’t know how to express my emotions adequately and it wasn’t good. I think everyone should be able to express their emotions without shame or fear.
Repressed Emotions Can Lead to Depression
It is a serious problem, and if you struggle with this, there is hope! You can learn how to communicate more effectively.
When I discovered how to express my emotions without fear, my life changed dramatically. It wasn’t an easy transition, but the benefits were tremendous.
I was the same person, but I had developed the courage to be more open and honest. It was quite an awakening to learn how to manage my emotions.
Reasons Why We Find it Difficult to Express Our Emotions
- You may have a fear of conflict – you are afraid of “angry feelings”, probably due to some experience in childhood of an angry parent, caregiver, or teacher.
- Fear of Rejection – you think, if I say how I truly feel, they may not like me and leave me. So, instead, you choose to say nothing and continue to appease them.
- Emotional Perfectionism – you believe you should always be rational and in control. This could stem from your family’s makeup or even your culture.
- You don’t know exactly how you feel, so it makes it difficult for you to express the feeling. Try to be more specific.
- You think you are the only one who has feelings like yours.
- You are not sure if you can trust yourself – You think, “maybe I am wrong, they will laugh at me”. Learn to trust your feelings. No one can tell you that your feelings are wrong.
- Hopelessness – Psych Central says, ‘perhaps you feel you have done all that you can do and the relationship is dead.’
- Low self-esteem – you feel you do not have a right to ask for what you want in a relationship.
- Mind reading – you think others should just know what you want without you asking, so you feel disappointed. You need to learn to communicate your needs and wants to others.
What’s The Difference Between Feelings and Emotions?
There is a fundamental difference between feelings and emotions. Feelings are experienced consciously, while emotions manifest, either consciously or subconsciously.
Some people may spend years, or even a lifetime, not understanding the depths of their emotions.
The study of the differences is vast and not something I am going to cover in this blog as it’s very technical and complex. But, here’s a simple explanation, given by Dr. Sarah Mckay, neuroscientist and author of the Your Brain Health.
“Emotions play out in the theater of the body.
Feelings play out in the theater of the mind.”
The Benefits of Letting Those Emotions Out
- You feel better.
- Less stress and muscle tension.
- You feel more connected to others.
- You have more peace of mind.
- You feel more honest.
- You feel happier.
- Less physical symptoms, such as headaches, hypertension and decreased immunity to infection.
- You have a sense of freedom.
- You like yourself more.
- Others know you better.
We are meant to express our emotions. God created us and He knows us well. Not only are we to express ourselves to one other, but we are also meant to share how we feel with God.
In fact, we should bring all our troubles to God in prayer, He can take the burden. After praying, we can decide if it’s necessary to share how we feel with those involved.
Wisdom and discernment are needed when expressing your emotions, as not everyone is mature enough to hear what you have to say.
It might be true, but maybe they are not ready to take responsibility for their actions, and so you may get an angry response to what you thought would bring peace.
Improve Your Relationships
By communicating openly with your partner, friends, family, and work colleagues, you will have healthier relationships. It’s not always easy to say if you feel hurt or upset, but what’s the other option?
You could hold resentment against that person, causing you to withhold your love. That way, the relationship goes on, but you don’t feel close.
For example, your partner might feel the coolness in the relationship, but they won’t know why if you don’t tell them.
It takes real courage to express your uncomfortable emotions, but if the person is mature enough and loves you enough, they will be willing to listen and hopefully change.
Repression of emotions causes stress, so it’s really in your best interest to take some chances and say how you feel. You are being true to yourself when you do this.
How To Express Your Emotions Effectively
The first thing you need to do is to listen to the messages you are receiving from your mind and body. You need to identify what you are feeling and why.
When you are triggered by someone, it can be tough, right? This is usually because you are not expecting it. You were not prepared for what they were going to do or say.
You might get an intense feeling in your body, so much so that it causes a physical reaction. You might even feel like lashing out!
We all feel like this at times, but you must learn to process the feeling
Why did you have an intense physical reaction? It could be related to a familiar person or situation. Often, it can remind you of how you felt in your childhood when someone you loved rejected you, dismissed you, talked down to you, abused you, etc. If that issue is not resolved in you, you will continue to get triggered.
What you must remember in these situations is that it’s usually about you at this point, because no one has the power to reject you or even hurt you (emotionally), unless you let them.
I’m not saying what they said or did was right, but if you want to find peace and joy in your life, you will need to learn how to manage your painful emotions.
This is easier said than done. If I feel I have not been fully healed in one area of my life and I notice certain people trigger this childhood wound in me, I choose to avoid being around them while I work on healing the wound.
What are you thinking in the situation?
Analyze your thought process, so you are aware of what is causing you to have an emotional reaction. All emotional reactions start with a thought.
Steps to Communicating Your Feelings to Others
- Deliver it in a calm way.
- You are simply telling them how you feel and how they are affecting you.
- Be clear and specific.. for example, “when you said that, I felt hurt, because I felt you didn’t care about me and I felt rejected.”
- Don’t blame them for hurting you, just tell them how their behaviour affected you. They can choose what they do with that information.
- Don’t confront someone with an outcome in mind. You are doing it for you. You are not responsible for how they feel. That is their responsibility.
- They might be surprised, so give them time to process the information.
- If you can’t communicate it in person, send a letter or e-mail. At least you won’t have to deal with their immediate reaction and it’s in black and white for them to read again later.
- Don’t worry about what they think of you. You are doing this for you. You are not out to hurt them, but to show them how you feel when they say or do things that you don’t like.
- Be prepared for the worst and hope for the best! If you choose your words, tone, and timing well, you may improve the quality of the relationship, but keep in mind, it’s better not to have a particular outcome in mind.
Sadly, in some cases where I have had to confront people and set healthy boundaries, it exposed what Cloud and Townsend, in their book Boundaries, call a non-relationship.
And this was my worst fear, that maybe they never really loved me in the first place. Well, isn’t it better to know the truth rather than spend your precious time on people who don’t value you?
When you learn to value yourself and lovingly speak your truth, you will start to attract better people into your life, because when you know your worth, somehow others do too.
Experience and Express Your Emotions Creatively
Art in any form is a great way to channel your energy!
You will find, as you start to heal your emotions, hidden talents within you, that you didn’t know existed before.
Don’t worry about those people you had to confront. In time, they will see how happy you are, and they will either return or go in a new direction.
Either way, you really won’t care what they do, because you have now chosen to be happy with or without them. You are learning to love and value yourself, probably for the first time in your life.
Communicating your feelings to others is an act of love as you are clearing up any misunderstandings in the relationship.
Once you know that you deserve to be respected by the people in your life, you won’t tolerate anything less.
You must also be willing to listen to others if they need to communicate their feelings to you.
The whole idea of communicating your feelings and emotions to others is to improve the quality of your relationships.