Many people keep quiet about their feelings, believing ‘least said, soonest mended’. Of course, there is some truth in this. Once something’s out it can’t be taken back. But that certainly doesn’t mean you should keep your emotions under wraps. What you truly, deeply feel will affect the relationship in some way, through an atmosphere, moods or subconscious actions. Knowing what to say and how to say it is key. So find out how to:
- Choose your subject
- Find clarity
- Realise what you want to achieve
- Write things down
- Avoid blame
- Express joy
- Spit it out
CHOOSING YOUR SUBJECT
Perhaps you aren’t very good with words and you’re afraid you’ll get it wrong. Don’t worry, there are lots of hints to help you in this article. However, there are some things that you shouldn’t come out with, because they are pointless and/or hurtful. These include anything said just to hurt and be spiteful. Even the best of us can get nasty when provoked, but it’s unproductive. Also criticisms of physical characteristics that your partner can’t change should be left unsaid.
Apart from this, strong, persistent feelings need to be aired. It will help if you take the time to be clear about what it is you are experiencing. This may mean talking to a third party such as an independent friend, a counselor or one of our helpful Readers, to sort out your true feelings. Like so many things in life, self-knowledge and self-understanding are the basis for sorting the important issues in life.
ON THE TRACK OF CLARITY
If you don’t decide to spill it out, there may come a time when it all bursts out. Sometimes that can be a good thing, but there is the risk of confusion and damage if you haven’t chosen your words. Try to name the feelings accurately in your mind and find out what causes them. Again, talking to someone like our Readers can help you work this out.
Once you’ve decided to speak, it’s a good idea to sleep on it. Thoughts come through and ideas can fall into place. For instance, feelings can mask deeper issues. Maybe you’re jealous, for instance – is that because of your partner’s behavior or your earlier experiences? Possibly you’re getting angry – is that to cover up feelings of vulnerability? The better you understand yourself the more likely you are to be understood by others.
WHAT DO YOU WANT TO ACHIEVE?
Saying to yourself ‘This will get me nowhere’ can be a persistent excuse for staying schtum and not confronting awkward issues. Expressing your emotions isn’t by any means always about getting a result. Just being truly heard can be a goal in itself. To get this, the work you’ve done on clarity will bear fruit when you start to speak.
However, there may well be a specific goal that you have in mind and it will help if you visualise this. Possibly you want the behavior of someone else to change, maybe you want more scope to be yourself or want to alter the situation substantially. Imagine this, flesh it out in your mind, see it as part of your life. You have a right to shape your life in a way that works for you.
WRITING THINGS DOWN
Please be very careful when putting things in writing, whether by text, email or old-fashioned letter. Although many people may understand that text is a limited medium, what is written and seen in black and white tends to stick. Writing your emotions down can pack a punch, but only choose to do this if you are expert with words. Or you could ask an articulate friend to vet your letter.
Where writing things down really comes into its own is in communicating with yourself. It can be much easier to sort your thoughts if you write them, and that is half the battle.
How you feel is how you feel. It arises from deep within you and is part of your journey in life. It isn’t your ‘fault’ how you feel, although of course it is your responsibility how you act, or do not act. So please start your journey towards self-expression by freeing yourself from blame or guilt, simply because of what you feel. In fact, try to love yourself, all of you, including feelings you may prefer not to have.
Try not to blame anyone else, either. It is most unlikely that anyone wants you to be unhappy, or to suffer emotionally. Of course, there are times when people may act in a way that’s unkind or hurtful, but your emotions are your responsibility and you need to take hold of them, and decide what to do with them. Even if the way you feel is quite clearly triggered by someone else, blaming them puts you in a passive situation. Square up and decide what you’re going to say, and do, about the situation.
JOYFUL FEELINGS ALSO NEED EXPRESSION
Sometimes you may keep your positive emotions under wraps. This may be because you are shy, or embarrassed. You might also fear that someone will knock you back, if you’re too happy – like tempting fate, or simply arousing envy. If you feel love you may be enriched by this but fear rejection, if you express it.
Happy emotions won’t eat away at you like sad ones. However, if you are hiding them, again be clear about why. Obviously boasting and celebrating good fortune in the face of someone who is grieving or despondent might not be tactful. But there is a way of spreading joy if you show others that they also can have the same experience. If you are a ‘success story’ maybe you can inspire others to find their own bliss.
THE TIME HAS COME TO SPIT IT OUT
So you’ve sorted out the important emotions, decided what needs to be expressed and what’s better left unsaid, and formed a clear idea of the outcome you’d like. Now you need to come clean.
Choose your time and place. Make sure that the person you’re communicating with has the time to listen and react, and that you’re in the right situation. You may feel you want witnesses, or you may prefer to be alone. You have made the decision to address this, so it’s your choice.
Have your words ready, along with prompts if you need them. You might make a list, and although it might look a tad ‘stiff’ to produce this in a personal situation, in a work context it might be suitable. Notes on your mobile might be easier to consult than a scrap of paper.
Being scared is quite understandable, but this is the moment to ‘feel the fear and do it anyway’. You’ve reflected on this long enough, and bottling out will make things worse. Have your first words prepared, breathe and relax.
Take it slowly. Be prepared to be surprised and upset, at least initially, by the reaction you get, and affirm to yourself that you won’t react thoughtlessly, or over-the-top. Even if what transpires isn’t what you want, you are on the way to being more open and true to yourself, which will eventually lead to contentment.
HOW WE CAN HELP
The points we’ve covered include choosing your subject, clarity, sorting what you want to achieve, writing things down, banishing blame, the importance of joyful feelings and getting to the point of self-expression. Hopefully you can now express yourself and let what is within you flow. But this can be difficult, and you may need extra advice and encouragement. In that case don’t make it harder than it needs to be – call one of our Readers today.
PUBLISHED: 10 October 2016