If you’ve ever wondered how to express your feelings to others, this article is for you.
Talking about what we care about is a skill that performs two key functions for our happiness. It allows us to release the emotions we accumulate within ourselves and build healthy and authentic relationships with others. How do we express ourselves consciously, honestly and directly?
Feelings deeply hidden
Everything that is most beautiful in life – love, joy and dreams – has no meaning when we cannot share them with anyone. Not without a reason, every time we meet a great happiness – the first thing we do is we talk about it to our loved ones. In a magical way, this increases our joy and makes it even more tangible.
Unfortunately, we are no longer so eager to talk about emotions that are difficult for us.
We prefer to hide everything that could present us in a bad light and leave it there once and for all. Anything that could negatively affect our relationship with another person, we prefer to keep to ourselves. We filter our own feelings, experiences and thoughts by choosing only those that are safe and comfortable for both parties.
Why are we doing this?
Because we have been taught to escape from difficult emotions and avoid difficult conversations. We were taught that there are “bad” and “good” emotions. How many times in our childhood have we heard “don’t cry”, “be good”? We quickly learned that we should not accept emotions such as anger, sadness, guilt. Therefore, we don’t know how to deal with them or how to behave when someone in our environment shows them.
And since we don’t accept difficult emotions, we don’t just want to admit it to ourselves. We also do not want to tell others about them, because we are afraid that they will not accept what we feel either. Often, this fear is based on the most solid foundations. I have experienced this many times myself, when sharing with someone what I think and feel, I was surprised or criticized, not understood.
Every person has a great need for approval and acceptance. Showing others what we have inside carries the risk of rejection, which is painful even for the strongest characters.
Fear of rejection
It is never the case that we accept a difficult emotion in ourselves, but we do not accept it in others (or vice versa). If we don’t feel comfortable with an emotion, we usually deny every manifestation of it – regardless of who expresses it. However, if we understand that anger, for example, is a natural reaction to certain circumstances and we know how to express this anger consciously and safely – exactly the same way we will perceive anger in other people.
Therefore, as soon as we notice anger in our loved ones, we often unknowingly activate our own defense mechanisms.
By our behaviour we show that we do not accept such emotions and that we would prefer the other person to keep them to himself. We do everything to make this person immediately stop being angry, or we make it clear that feeling sad is completely meaningless in a given situation. In doing so, we make the person close to himself or herself because he or she hasn’t been given the space to express his or her emotions freely.
Why do we assume that by expressing ourselves we will be rejected?
Firstly, because, as I have already written a moment ago, many times it has actually happened.
Secondly, because we design our own reactions on others. If we deny our own difficult feelings, we expect a similar reaction from other people when we think about sharing what is playing in our own soul. We assume that we cannot count on acceptance and understanding of these “harder” parts of our personality, so we do not even try to express what we feel. We suffocate in ourselves what we want to get out so badly.
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The same is true of our needs and desires. We see many of them as “out of place” and are afraid that when we tell the other person about them, she will think that something is wrong with us.
There is another reason why we don’t share what’s on our minds with others. If we can’t deal with our feelings on our own, we often assume that others also have difficulty doing it. So we are afraid to hurt the other person. We think that what we say will be difficult for them and that we will be a source of sadness and suffering.
An example is a relationship where partners spend a lot of time together. One person may need to have more space for him/herself (going out with colleagues, walking alone). However, they may not communicate this need to the other person because they are afraid that they will feel rejected.
In this case, the lack of ability to express one’s needs may lead to a situation in which a person seeking greater freedom for himself/herself will negate this need, while at the same time cultivating growing frustration with the partner. The partner will experience this frustration in different ways (mainly through non-verbal messages), but will have no idea what is causing it. This can be a source of many conflicting misunderstandings.
All this makes us lock our feelings, needs and desires in a tight box somewhere in the far corners of our subconscious and do everything we can to keep them there.
This has quite negative consequences because:
1. Unexpressed feelings accumulate in our body in the form of accumulated energy and are often a source of physical ailments or destructive outbursts of anger.
2. Lack of communication in the relationship will always be a source of countless misunderstandings that lead to conflicts that can lead to the termination of the relationship without further communication.
Unexpressed feelings and needs hurt both us and our relationships.
Given the dangerous language of full evaluation, guesswork and false interpretations that most of us use, the fears described above are perfectly legitimate. “Traditional” communication actually exposes us to a lack of acceptance on the other hand, and increases the risk of harming others with statements we make.
Sometimes a single word or misinterpretation can trigger unconscious defense mechanisms and turn dialogue into a pointless bounce and a war for “right”.
The good news is that we can learn another language. A language in which there is no room for judging the other person, and which focuses on describing one’s own feelings and experiences. A language in which there is no room for interpretation and in which we do not stimulate the defensive mechanisms of our interlocutor.
In this way, we will focus our dialogue on feelings and needs and eliminate the possibility of psychological violence in our communication.
In fact, it is not just a matter of changing the way we communicate. It’s a different way of looking at emotions and needs, both for ourselves and for others.
Before there is any communication at all, we first focus on internal communication. We need to understand how we feel. Accept our inner experiences and listen to our emotions and needs. Only when we know what is at our heart can we begin to express ourselves properly in front of the other person.
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How To Express Your Feelings
The formulation of the communication consists of four stages:
1. Remarks. We start with what we have observed. There is no room for guesswork, interpretation, criticism and judgment here – we share the dry facts we have noticed.
2. Feelings. In the second stage, we talk about the specific feelings that have arisen in us in relation to the insights we mentioned earlier.
3. Needs. Here we describe a need or desire that has not been satisfied and that has caused one feeling in me, not the other.
4. Requests. In the last stage, we ask the other person for a concrete action that could satisfy our need.
Why does communicating according to this pattern cause miracles?
Because such a form of communication does not stimulate the other person’s defense mechanisms, which in a split second can turn dialogue into mud throwing, which will prevent us from getting to the heart of the conflict.
Communication is a fascinating and broad field. Communicating properly is not enough and working on better self-expression is also worth learning skills that will support our new way of communicating.
These include, among other things, skills:
- separating emotions from facts and interpretations,
- communicating their needs and formulating requests,
- to mark their boundaries and to communicate them assertively,
- noticing the roles we enter in when we are in contact with another person,
- giving feedback and accepting compliments.
What happens when you start to openly and directly express your feelings and needs?
First of all, we gradually begin to release the enormous weight we carry on our shoulders. The emotions that used to be hidden in the recesses of our subconscious are now slowly being “let out” and tidying up inside us. First, we let them into our own consciousness, and then we communicate them to other people in the right language.
This allows them to understand us. This heals our relationships and lets more empathy and understanding into them. In this way, we avoid unnecessary conflicts and misunderstandings. We enable others to take care of our needs, and we know how to satisfy the needs of people who are important and close to us.
The art of free expression can be a source of many good changes in the world of your relationships. Learning a language that is free from violence and judgment is certainly not easy. I am still learning it and I feel great satisfaction when my efforts positively influence my relations.
I want to thank you for taking the time to read my article about how to express your feelings. I sincerely hope its contents have been a good help to you.