We are emotional beings… but that doesn’t mean we know how to express our emotions, especially to the ones we love. Here’s how we can do better…
For some of us, the hardest challenge we face isn’t rocket science or fighting with our deepest fears; it’s expressing our feelings and emotions, especially with the people we love.
This is perfectly normal, despite the fact that everywhere we look (especially in the movies), it seems like this is a piece of cake.
But in real life, we keep wondering if it’s healthy or wrong to feel a certain way because we don’t hear people talking about their feelings unless they feel good…
Add to that the reality that we are not taught how to express, control, manage, or understand our emotions. Therefore, when a powerful emotion takes over our mind and body, it’s not surprising that we do not know how to react.
Not knowing how to express your feelings is a problem many people face in relationships with the people they love. This can be your family, close friends, or a romantic relationship. A relationship is all about feelings; how the two of you feel together and help each other feel. If you cannot express what you are really feeling, your relationship will be damaged, or severely limited. This seems obvious, so why is it so hard to do this?
5 fear-related explanations for not sharing our feelings:
Fear of Conflict
When it comes to tension or times when we and the one we love aren’t on good terms, we often suppress our emotions to make sure we don’t start a conflict. Feelings aren’t all positive, especially during a conflict, but until they are expressed they never really leave. To avoid the buildup of frustration caused by a fear of conflict, express your feelings as soon as you can.
Fear of Judgment
Sometimes, when even we can’t understand ourselves, we prefer to keep quiet and hide rather than risk being misunderstood or judged by the one we love. It’s natural to feel this way, especially if we are too shy or introverted to openly share your feelings. But when this happens, the tendency is to run to that safe space inside of ourselves, further cutting ourself off from others.
Fear of Vulnerability
Unfortunately, many people equate expressing feelings with being vulnerable, and since vulnerability isn’t considered highly attractive, many people are intimidated to show their vulnerable side. Therefore, to keep the appearance of being an independent, strong person, we are afraid to express our feelings, even to our loved ones.
Fear of Disapproval
Fear of disapproval means that we continuously aim to please our partner or seek our partner’s approval of our behavior and feelings. If we know that the way we feel may disappoint our partner, we’ll often keep the feelings to ourselves rather than risk disapproval.
Fear of Rejection
To be rejected isn’t a pleasant feeling but being rejected over and over again can leave a hard impression, causing us to lose our self esteem and doubt are worthiness. To avoid this, we’ may do our best not to feel rejected ever again — even if this means not opening up your heart and sharing your honest feelings.
In addition to these fear-based explanations, other factors related to your mindset and your belief system can hold you back from expressing your feelings and emotions. Yet, whatever the reasons that are holding you back, there are steps you can take to get in the habit of expressing your feelings. For these steps to work, however, you have to be fully committed and willing to fix your relationships with the ones you love.
6 steps to start effectively expressing yourself to the ones you love:
Accept That It’s OK Not to Feel OK
First things first — accept and embrace your difficulty in expressing your emotions. There’s nothing wrong with that, especially since most of us are having a hard time sharing our feelings. We are here to learn about ourselves, but if we don’t accept and embrace the challenges that cross our path, we can not become our best selves.
Do Your Best to Understand Your Challenge
Treat your problem as a friend rather than an enemy, then do your best to understand it. Take your time and observe the processes your mind is going through when you can’t express your feelings. Take note of what’s going on so you can track your progress and connect the dots. Understanding takes time, something in short supply when we barely have time for ourselves and our busy lifestyle.
Establish a Safe Atmosphere to Talk
Create a safe space or atmosphere where you can talk with your loved one in a manner that helps establish mututal trust. Explain your situation and ask them to give you a bit of their time and attention to talk about something important for you. If your partner loves you too, this can go better than you even imagined.
Take It Slow
Expressing your feelings might not feel natural at first, but keep in mind that you are allowed to move forward at your own pace. It’s okay to ask your loved one to understand and help you overcome your difficulty. Most importantly, ask your partner to not put pressure on you.
Keep the Lines of Communication Open
It’s imperative to know that you have someone who is always there to listen and help you… and vice versa. To establish your partner as the person you can talk to about everything requires open lines of communication at all times. Feeling that you can’t talk with your loved one about certain off-limit topics or boundaries is a common source of stress in relationships.
Ask For Help
We are all humans, and we all need help from time to time. There should be no shame to ask for help from a psychologist or a psychotherapist — doctors of the mind who have spent years studying human mental processes and illnesses. That said, I believe that we have the power to fix our own problems alone if we are very open and honest with ourselves, and willing to change our beliefs.
Feelings are amazing when they are shared. This is essential if you want to have a healthy and lasting relationship with the ones you care for the most. None of us are perfect or know how to do everything right, but by following these steps I’ve outlined, you can both understand what is holding you back and what you can do to move forward to keep your loved ones close.
You may also enjoy reading Is Everything Ok? A Call to Be Vulnerable, for Your Child & You by Katarina Wallentin