Have you ever found yourself not knowing what to do with your emotions or feelings? Well, I’ve been there. Sometimes, we experience these glorious feelings that overjoy us and bring us happiness, and sometimes feelings can also hurt. Dealing with our feelings and making this a common practice is important. One way to do so is by talking about them. And while many people find it awkward to talk about their feelings and be emotionally vulnerable, it helps clear your mind and brings many benefits to your mental wellness.
Why is talking about your feelings so important?
First, your feelings matter. Even though some people might not see it that way, these are your feelings. If something upsets you, even if others think it is not worth being sad about, it is how you feel; your own personal experience has value. That’s why it’s important for you to process your feelings.
Second, talking about your feelings helps you to take control of your emotions. If you constantly just swallow your feelings and try to bottle them up, they might build up and eventually consume your mind. How you feel determines how you think and act. If you let these feelings take control of you, they also control your thoughts and actions.
How you feel determines how you think and act
Talking also allows you to acknowledge your feelings and you develop emotional awareness. Through talking it out, you understand your emotions and begin to figure out why you feel that way. One tool you can use to help you in this is the emotion wheel. It states 7 basic emotions that are then divided into more complex feelings: happy, surprised, bad, fearful, angry, disgusted, sad. You then can identify the reason behind your emotions and can help you find a solution.
Start from the center of the wheel with the basic emotions and branch outwards
If you keep your feelings to yourself, you might ignore or simply try to forget them. Sometimes this works with more trivial things, like getting annoyed about traffic. However, for more significant issues like a fight with friends or feeling stressed about work or school, it’s no longer healthy to keep it all to yourself; you need to acknowledge and start talking about these emotions. By doing so, you will start your personal healing process. After all, many people state that after a pleasant conversation about their feelings and troubles they felt relieved and ready to ‘move on’.
Why people rather keep their emotions to themselves
One reason people choose not to talk about their emotions is that they feel discomfort in being so open. We may feel this ‘awkwardness’ because we’re putting ourselves in an unknown or uncommon situation. Perhaps, you don’t know who to open up to, let alone how to start the conversation. Or, you’re not sure how the person you’re talking to will react and what they will say. For some, talking about their personal emotions means getting out of their comfort zone. In some cultures, talking about emotions is associated with being “weak”. This encourages people to hide their feelings and try to push their way through life to be seen as “strong”. But remember, there is strength in being vulnerable — you shift your focus to strengthen your emotional wellness.
Besides this ‘awkwardness,’ some people may feel that they are an emotional ‘burden’ to the other person. From personal experience, I know how hard it can be. I hesitated to talk to friends or family if I knew they were under stress as well. I didn’t want to be a burden to them or make them feel uncomfortable. One way to solve that is by simply communicating clearly. Before talking to someone, express your situation and ask if the person would be comfortable talking about it. That way you can reassure yourself that the conversation is wanted both ways.
How to avoid awkwardness when talking about your emotions
Before sharing tips on how to talk about your feelings, remember to always be truthful to yourself and your listener. Take some time and figure out the core of your feelings (use the emotional wheel for help). If it’s too overwhelming to think through your feelings alone, talking to someone will help. Don’t be scared and always express how you really feel. This also makes the healing process easier.
Most of the awkwardness also comes near the beginning of the conversation because finding the right words to start is always challenging. I know it’s difficult to share your emotions, especially if there is a lot going on in your head. Unsure of how to begin? Here are some ways you can start the conversation:
"I want to share something with you."
“I feel [insert emotion] right now. Could we talk about it if you have the time?”
“I just had a rough time after [insert your experience]. Can I share with you?”
“I’m feeling off and not sure why. Could you talk it out with me?”
“Lately I’m feeling [insert your experience], and I don’t know who I can talk to. Could we have a chat?”