Effective communication is difficult. And it is even more difficult when it comes to communicating our feelings to others; a topic that we are often taught is not worthy of another person’s attention. But we also know that the repression of negative feelings can have deleterious effects on our mental health and as well as our physical health. Moreover, we know that effective communication is key to any healthy relationship. And while most people would agree with this, it is also important that we do not corner the first unsuspecting person we come across and unload our feelings onto them. Therefore, we need to learn how to express our feelings in a healthier way. Storytelling your feelings will become easier if you adhere to the following tips:
- Your feelings are worthy
Before you start storytelling your feelings to others, it is important for you to believe that they are worthy of communicating. If you do not actually believe this, you will probably have a difficult time talking about them forthrightly. Believe that your feelings are valid and important! You might not like the way you feel, but you probably can’t help it. Often, the problem is not the feelings you have, but how you respond to them. Therefore, learning to express them in a healthy way is critically important, and it starts with you believing that they are worthy of expressing.
- Understand your feelings
Now that you have made peace with the fact that it is okay for you to have feelings, and that those feelings are earnest, it is now time to understand them. “So, how are you feeling today?” – typically, when we are asked this question, our automatic response is, “Good”, or “Hmm, not so great.” If you truly want to clearly express your feelings, you will have to be a bit more introspective about your feelings. Do you feel angry, annoyed, jealous, happy, sad, grateful, loved, scared, or appreciative? You must label that feeling(s), so others can understand you better. You might need some quiet time by yourself to reflect; and this is okay (and a good practice). Going for a walk can be helpful, so is writing down your feelings. Over time, you will discover which practice works best for you, and remember that you can have more than one feeling at a time. Once you understand how you feel and have given it a name, it becomes easier for you to figure out what you want and/or need, and then express that effectively.
- You are responsible for your own feelings
This might not be pleasing to read, but it would be remiss to omit it. You need to accept the fact that you are responsible for your own feelings. Yes, people and situations can influence how you feel. Yes, it might not be your fault that you feel this way. But at the end of the day, it is your responsibility to deal with those feelings and figure out how you are going to respond to them. Keep in mind that you might not get what you want or deserve, no matter how well you express those feelings, simply because you cannot control other people.
- Express your feelings clearly
You now know your feelings are worthy, you have understood them and realized that they are your responsibility. You are now ready to express them, but you need to do that at the right time and place. Is that important? Yes, it is! You don’t want to talk about your feelings to someone who is tired, busy, sleepy or distracted; that will not be in your best interest. Approach the person when s/he is willing and able to give you their full and undivided attention. You could also schedule a meeting in advance to make sure both of you are available at a predetermined day or time. Once that is achieved, you can talk about your feelings clearly and openly, while avoiding blame, and even offering possible solutions if warranted. Remember that effective communication also includes you listening to the other person attentively. Even though you are expressing “your” feelings, this is not just about you.
Practicing these tips regularly; will ensure that it becomes much easier to express your feelings in a healthy way. This will greatly improve the quality of your relationships.