How To Express Your Feelings In Words If You Struggle

How To Express Your Feelings In Words If You Struggle

Talking about your feelings shouldn’t be like trying to solve a complex puzzle. It’s crucial, though.  If you’re keeping your thoughts inside, that’s a recipe for a personal meltdown. It’s all about getting those emotions out in a way that’s understandable to both you and the listener. Trust me, it’s a game-changer for your mental health and your relationships.

1. Start Small.

Let’s face it, diving right into the deep end of your emotions can be overwhelming. So, start with the little things. Share something small that bugged you today or something that made you smile. It’s like stretching before a workout – you’re warming up those emotional expression muscles. Gradually, you’ll feel more comfortable tackling the heavier stuff. And guess what? The more you do it, the easier it gets. It’s all about building up your confidence in sharing – start with the ripples before making waves.

2. Be Clear and Direct.

When you’re ready to open up, keep it straightforward. If something’s bothering you, say it plainly. If you’re happy about something, express it clearly. No need for riddles or beating around the bush. Being clear and direct helps to avoid misunderstandings and ensures you’re getting your real point across. It’s like giving your feelings a loudspeaker – no distortions, just pure, unadulterated truth. And remember, it’s not about being harsh; it’s about being honest in a way that others can easily grasp.

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4. Practice Makes Perfect.

Just like any new skill, expressing your feelings takes practice. Don’t sweat it if it doesn’t come out perfectly at first. It’s totally normal to fumble a bit when you’re starting out. Every attempt is progress, even if it feels a bit awkward. Think of each conversation as a step towards becoming more comfortable with your emotions. The key here is persistence. Keep at it, and gradually, you’ll find that expressing yourself becomes more natural and less of a struggle.

5. Use “I” Statements.

Starting your sentences with “I feel” is a great way to ensure you’re communicating your emotions without pointing fingers. It’s about taking ownership of your feelings and not laying blame. This approach reduces defensiveness in conversations and opens up a space for understanding. It’s a simple but effective way to frame your emotions. Using “I” statements transforms the conversation from potentially accusatory to something more about personal expression.

6. Don’t Wait for the ‘Right’ Moment.

If you’re holding out for the perfect moment to talk about your feelings, that moment might never come. The best time is often right now. Delaying can lead to those emotions building up and becoming even harder to express. It’s like ignoring a leak – eventually, it’s going to lead to a bigger problem. So, take the plunge and start the conversation. More often than not, you’ll find that getting it off your chest feels a whole lot better than waiting for some elusive perfect timing.

7. Keep a Feelings Journal.

If verbalizing your emotions feels too intense at first, try writing them down. A journal can be your private, judgment-free zone where you can lay it all out. It helps you organize your thoughts and understand your feelings better. Plus, it’s a great way to track your emotional journey. When you’re ready to share these feelings with someone else, you’ll have a clearer idea of what you want to say. Writing is like a rehearsal for the real conversation.

8. Ask for Feedback.

After you’ve shared, ask the other person how it came across. This ensures that your message was received as intended and opens the door for a two-way dialogue. It shows you’re not just interested in talking but also in being understood and understanding the other person’s perspective. Feedback can be incredibly useful – it can give you insights into how your emotional expression is being received and how it impacts others.

9. Take a Pause if You Need It.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed in the middle of a tough conversation, it’s totally fine to take a break. Sometimes, stepping away for a moment can help you gather your thoughts and come back with a clearer perspective. It’s not about avoiding the conversation; it’s about making sure you can express yourself in the best possible way. Taking a pause is like hitting the reset button – it can help prevent misunderstandings and ensure your feelings are conveyed accurately.

10. Acknowledge the Other Person’s Feelings.

While it’s important to express your feelings, don’t forget to consider the other person’s emotions too. This balance is crucial for a healthy, two-way conversation. Acknowledging their feelings shows empathy and understanding. It creates a supportive environment where both parties feel heard and valued. This mutual respect can lead to more meaningful and effective communication.

11. Avoid Absolute Language.

Steer clear of absolute terms like “always” or “never.” These can come off as accusatory and exaggerate the situation. Instead, focus on specific instances and how they made you feel. This keeps the conversation grounded and factual, avoiding unnecessary drama or escalation. Speaking in absolutes can shut down productive dialogue, so it’s best to stick to the facts and how they affect you personally.

12. Clarify Your Needs and Expectations.

It’s important to be clear about what you need from the conversation. Whether it’s understanding, support, or just a listening ear, stating your expectations helps prevent miscommunication. This clarity ensures that your needs are addressed and the conversation is productive. It’s not about being demanding; it’s about being open and honest about what you’re looking for in the exchange.

13. Practice Active Listening.

When talking to people about your feelings, also be an active listener. This means fully engaging with the other person’s responses, both verbally and non-verbally. Active listening fosters mutual respect and understanding. It shows that you value the conversation and are committed to understanding their perspective as well.

14. Use Descriptive Language.

Be as descriptive as possible when talking about your emotions. Instead of just saying “I’m upset,” try to explain what that feels like for you. This helps the listener understand your emotional state more deeply and can lead to a more empathetic response. Descriptive language paints a clearer picture and makes the conversation more vivid and meaningful.

15. Follow Up After the Conversation.

After you’ve opened up, it’s helpful to check in later. This can be a simple conversation to see if anything was unclear or if there are any lingering feelings or questions. Following up shows that you’re invested in the relationship and the conversation’s outcomes. It keeps the lines of communication open and can help strengthen your connection.

Sinead Cafferty is a writer who has authored four collections of poetry: "Dust Settling" (2012); "The Space Between" (2014); "Under, Under, Over" (2016); and "What You Can't Have" (2020). She's currently working on her first novel, a dystopian romance set in the 22nd Century, that's due out in 2024.

Sinead has an MFA in creative writing from NYU and has had residencies with the Vermont Studio Center and the National Center for Writing.