Updated: Dec 10, 2022
Discover why it's natural for some people to reveal their feelings yet others quickly repel the thought of it. Find out how expressing your emotions is normal and necessary.
Where does one adopt the belief that their feelings don’t matter and verbalizing them will cause more harm than good?
Expressing how you feel is like the sensation you get on an airplane that is experiencing turbulence. It’s scary!! When you really think about it, it takes a certain degree of vulnerability that not many people feel will benefit them. I used to be one of those people.
This article will share some of the most common thoughts people have that stops them from sharing their emotions and provide you with a different perspective.
1. The People You Open Up To Can Use It Against You
Growing up, I remember being told not to let people know how much you care. The rationale behind it was that if a person knew how they or a particular thing made you feel then they could easily manipulate the situation. Confessing how someone hurt you basically gives them the tools to do it again. This may be true in some circumstances but perhaps the individual that intentionally seeks to hurt you shouldn’t have a relationship with you. The fear of being blackmailed or manipulated from sharing something personal can often link back to a past betrayal from an unhealthy relationship. While I wouldn't t suggest wearing your heart on your sleeve, I do believe in the need to communicate your feelings within close relationships if you expect change to happen.
2. I Don’t Want To Be A Burden On Others
This must be my favorite as I have used it many times myself. If you also share this belief, I want you to ask yourself these questions: Are you a good listener? Do you like to help the people you care about? If you are willing to provide this for others what makes you think you are not worthy of it being reciprocated? A healthy relationship is an established connection between two people that offers support, trust and honesty. You must learn to be comfortable with relying on others during your time of need. Give the people you support the opportunity to care for you.
3. Sharing My Feelings Means I’m Weak
Do you really believe that expressing your feelings is a sign of weakness or just sharing the painful ones? I’m sure you would have no problem letting a loved one know how excited you are if you received an all-expenses paid trip to your dream vacation. Yet, if that same loved one repeatedly forgets your birthday leaving you feeling sad, you decide it’s better not to let them know your disappointment because they may assume you’re a softie. While expressing your feelings does require a bit of vulnerability it means you are in tune with your emotions and have developed the ability to assertively communicate your needs and wants.
4. Disagreements Will Ruin The Relationship
Do you remember that episode of Martin when he was trying to get his radio audience to believe he was in control of Gina and that she does whatever he tells her to do. Gina heard his show and immediately took offense and rushed home to confront him on it. The argument started with him playing hardball but literally 15sec later he was pleading her name begging her not to leave him. In the end they confessed their love for one another and were all hugs and kisses. Even though this is a sitcom it holds a true element of reality in the sense that you won’t agree with everyone, but you can still have a loving relationship. By not expressing your dissatisfaction with someone you risk resenting them and even becoming angry with them.
5. Talking About It Doesn’t Solve Anything
At the very least talking about it brings awareness that a problem exists. Not talking about it breeds confusion. If you don’t feel like talking about the issue will resolve it, then it’s likely you’re practicing ineffective ways of communicating. A quick way to turn a sour disagreement rotten is by yelling, speaking over one another, discussing multiple issues at once, degrading each other, becoming physical, silence and lack of understanding. Instead, you should practice expressing your feelings with words, listen, ask questions, talk when you are both calm, and work toward a compromise or agreeable solution.
You May Have Been Emotionally Neglected
As children we learn by mimicking behaviors displayed to us. In most families, it is through your parents and caregivers that your relationship with your emotions is conceived. When I was about six years old my oldest brother decided he would take on the challenge of teaching me how to ride my bike without the training wheels. Listen! I was so ready to take those things off so I could officially feel like a big girl around the neighborhood.
What I thought would only take a day to learn took me 3 days and I was heated. I couldn't successfully balance myself. I kept falling off as soon as he freed his hands from the handlebars. Each day I came back inside the house in tears out of frustration and an overwhelming sense of failure. However, I remember my mom telling me, "It's ok baby girl. Just keep trying. Once you get it, you'll never forget how to do it." In that magical moment, my mother validated that it was ok for me to feel upset AND she demonstrated compassion. We must be taught how to regulate our emotions instead of hiding them. As an adult I understand that when I experience an unpleasant emotion it is normal, and it is safe for me to communicate what I need in that moment.
According to Psychoanalyst, John Bowlby, one’s relationship with one’s parents during childhood has a significant impact on how you form close and intimate relationships in the future. His theory on attachment suggests that those individuals with avoidant and fearful-avoidant attachment styles typically avoid emotional encounters and have difficulty controlling their emotions. Depending on your upbringing and your attachment style, this can largely influence how you connect with others in your adult life.
Help is available
Expressing your emotions can be uncomfortable if you haven’t learned how to do so in a healthy way. If you often avoid speaking about your emotions and find it difficult to be vulnerable in close relationships speaking with a therapist can help.