Expressing feelings have gotten a bad rep. Social media prides us on relentless positivity, we’re encouraged to persevere through tough situations with an unwavering smile on our face and then we’re praised for being so strong. Many of us even feel ashamed when we feel a “bad” emotion like sadness or anger, and instead, we opt to keep those feelings to ourselves while we put on a positive façade for the rest of the world.
We like to believe that our ability to suppress our negative emotions means that we’re in control of them, but studies surrounding the consequences of suppressing emotions say otherwise. In reality, when we ignore our emotions, they only become stronger and take control of us; suppression of emotions has even been linked to depression.
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Emotional vulnerability is vital to our mental health and the more we work at embracing all of our emotions, the easier it becomes. All of our emotions serve a purpose, even unpleasant or inconvenient ones. When you embrace your emotions, you can better understand them and, by extension, yourself.
How to get better at expressing feelings
Write out your thoughts
Many of us have trouble verbalizing our feelings because we don’t know how to explain them. Writing them down is a useful way to familiarize yourself with the ways you can explain your feelings. Regular journaling, even only journaling when you’re feeling emotional, can do wonders for mental health.
If you tend to avoid conflict, try writing your thoughts out before approaching the other person. This will help you remember the points you want to discuss so you don’t leave the conversation regretting not having brought up an issue.
Focus on the outcome, not the act
Does speaking up or putting yourself out there make you uncomfortable? We tend to get anxious and hold ourselves back from these things because we think too much about the act itself as opposed to the outcome.
Try to remember why it is you’re doing something and how accomplished and relieved you’ll feel once you get there. If you’re afraid to tell a coworker you don’t like the way they speak to you, don’t spend the three days leading up to your conversation worrying about what you’re going to say. Instead, focus on how things will change after you’ve spoken to them.
Stop classifying emotions as ‘good’ and ‘bad’
One of the biggest problems with emotional expression is that there are some emotions we consider ‘good’ (happiness, excitement, and emotional strength), and others we consider bad (anger, sadness, nervousness). Forget about good or bad and just let yourself feel whatever you feel when you feel it.
It’s not bad to be sad—it’s a part of life. Remember: you can’t experience the good without the bad. Instead of trying to hide or deny certain emotions, remind yourself that all feelings are natural and human. Once you’ve healed from the sadness or anger of a situation, you’ll be a stronger person.
A lot of us are afraid to take chances. We don’t want to put ourselves in a position of potentially experiencing sadness or disappointment. Instead of fearing those emotions, embrace them! No one can be right 100% of the time; failure only means you’re learning something new.
Fabulous can help you, too! Add the Write in My Journal Habit to one of your daily rituals to start a journaling habit today.