Sometimes we might have a difficult time expressing how we feel because we are afraid of how others will react or perceive us. We might have a hard time expressing how we feel because we are not sure what it is we are feeling. Emotions can be complex. Part of it might be because we tell ourselves that how we feel doesn’t matter. Here are some simple guidelines to understand and express how you feel.
1. Your emotions matter: Emotions give us information about our environment and our choices. If we feel threatened or out of control we might feel angry or anxious. If we have lost or fear losing someone or something, we might grieve or feel sad. When things are going the way that we want them too, we feel happy or excited.
2. Emotions are in your body: One of the keys to understanding how you feel is to pay attention to sensations in your body. Is your heart racing or is your stomach tight? When we learn how to identify where we feel emotions in our body we can learn to speak about how we feel.
3. How are you perceiving the emotion? Our body gives us a signal about threats in our environment and our heart races. We can tell ourself that we are afraid, or we can tell ourself that we are excited. Be curious about the story that you are telling yourself about your bodies response to the environment.
4. Heathy responses: Healthy responses to emotion include talking, crying or calming down. Talking about how you feel helps to minimize conflict and misunderstanding. Crying helps to relieve pressure and stress and calming down prevents you from yelling or becoming aggressive.
4. Accept your emotions, don’t avoid them: Avoiding your emotions or distracting yourself from your emotions will not help you to understand or learn from them. Often when we feel heartache we tend to avoid it. Negative emotions help us to grow and understand ourselves better. Broken hearts help us to understand love, appreciation and compassion. We also learn from our mistakes by paying attention to the feelings we don’t like.
5. Write it out: It might be easier for some people to write their emotions out before they are able to speak about them. Writing your feelings on a piece of paper might help to clarify any confusion you have to what you are feeling.
6. Practice, practice, practice: If you are not used to speaking about your feelings, it will be quite challenging in the beginning. Don’t give up, try again. Every time that you try, it will become easier. There might be people in your life who are unable to cope with your emotions or anyone else’s for that matter. Practice with people are are open to hearing how you feel.
Dr Monica Borschel is a US-trained Clinical Psychologist
Reach out to Dr Borschel: firstname.lastname@example.org for an individual or skype session.