Expressing feelings can be like pulling teeth, because it’s just as painful. If you’ve forgotten how to express your feelings, here’s how to do it right.
I spent a large portion of my life trying to figure out how to express my feelings the right way, because every time I tried, it came out wrong. I stumbled over my words, I said the wrong thing, and people got upset with me. I never had bad intentions, but I didn’t know how to express myself without upsetting the people around me. It always ended badly, so I chose to stop expressing my feelings. As you can imagine, this ended badly. If you’re having a hard time learning how to express your feelings, you’re not alone.
Choosing to lock away your feelings is not the solution to being bad at expressing your feelings. Learn how to express your feelings because you need to know this throughout your life. And you need to get good at it. [Read: The guide to find your zone of calm perfection]
How to express your feelings
My biggest piece of advice? Acknowledge the fact that you are allowed to feel the way that you do. Never feel the need to apologize for how you feel in any moment, because you’re entitled to your feelings. Once you accept this as common knowledge, expressing your feelings becomes exponentially easier on a daily basis.
Do you remember how it felt to be 13 and had your first crush? The thought of telling them how you felt was completely foreign. It landed in the “never gonna happen” category. Some of us never really outgrew that stage in our lives. Here we stand, numb and confused about our emotions, and ignoring the beautiful things happening around us.
You need to understand how to express your feelings, one step at a time. The first step? Listen to everything I’m about to tell you. I do mean everything.
#2 How ARE you feeling? Before you can tell anybody what you feel, you must figure it out yourself, friends. Did somebody hurt your feelings? You need to lay it all out for yourself. Be brutally honest—you are the only one who is listening right now. [Read: How to really get to know yourself]
#3 Dig deeper. Okay, so it’s great that you figured out that Jimmy broke your heart and it upset you. I’m gonna need you to dig a little bit deeper than that. I understand that he did something hurtful to you, but you need to figure out why his actions affected you the way that they did.
We all have our reasons for feeling the way that we do. We cannot articulate our thoughts and feelings until we fully understand them ourselves.
#4 Is it worth it? Sometimes people don’t want to hear how we feel, and, yes—it does suck. But that’s life, and we need to accept that. You can gather your thoughts until you understand them perfectly, but if they fall on deaf ears, then what’s the point? You need to really decide what is worth your energy, because it is so very precious. Sometimes it is best to just understand how you are feeling for yourself and end the journey there.
#5 Come up with three solutions to your problem. I used to work as a Resident Advisor (RA) in a college residence. One of the techniques we learned was to encourage our students to come forward with their issues, but only if they had three solutions to their problem.
If you have a million problems and expect others to come up with the solutions for you, you aren’t going to be very successful in your journey—regardless of what it entails. Somebody hurt you? Okay, so you can (1) walk away, (2) work it out, or (3) pretend it never happened. Figure out your solutions before you try to confront somebody with how you feel. [Read: How to stop being angry and finally free yourself]
#6 Take your time. Think about what you are about to do. If your boss sent you a super passive aggressive email, and you’ve had it with their negative attitude towards you, STOP. Don’t reply right away. Sit on your feelings.
I have a 24-hour rule, unless it is something that requires an immediate reply. If I’m angry, I wait 24-hours to reply. Chances are, by the time I return to the issue, I will be a lot less angry and able to respond in a calm manner. This diffuses situations that don’t need to exist and take up our energy for no reason.
#7 Do it in person. I know in today’s age, it is easy to send a text or an email when you express your feelings about something. However, it is important that you don’t do this. It’s easy—and that’s the problem. Expressing your feelings isn’t meant to be easy. When talking in person, you develop a bond and a connection with the other person, and it becomes increasingly easier to work out any issues that you might have. Don’t back down from your feelings though.
#8 Be confident in how you feel. Since you chat in person, it can be very easy to hide behind a smile or a laugh and ignore how you truly feel. Expressing your feelings is not a walk in the park, I assure you. It needs to be done. Walk into the conversation with intentions and things that you need to talk about before you walk away. Make sure you follow through with that.
#9 Understand the outcomes. This might not go well, and you should understand that. Sometimes people don’t want to hear what you say, or they will get angry because they feel attacked by your expressing your feelings. This could end with a loss of a friendship, relationship, or any other connection. If it does, then it’s really for the best. [Read: How to move on from the toxicity of life for good]
#10 Practice makes perfect. You can’t do this once and expect to be an expert. You need to wake up every single day with the intention of being true to yourself and expressing your feelings whenever and wherever you deem fit. The only way to become comfortable expressing your feelings, is by doing so.
#11 Eye contact is important. You really should look somebody in the eye to understand how they respond to what you have to say. This is why meeting in person to discuss your feelings is crucial to expressing yourself. It also shows a level of respect if they look you in the eye as you talk about how you feel. [Read: How to calm your nerves in an situation you walk into]
#12 Never ever, ever apologize. You’re allowed to feel the way that you feel. Don’t let anybody tell you otherwise. Stand tall, and tell somebody how you feel, because it is important.