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How To Express Your Emotions To Others
by Greg Baker
4/21/2010 / Relationships
There are several things that need to be addressed before we can adequately answer the question of "Should I express my emotions?"
First, you need to realize that your emotions can be deceptive. What you feel isn't necessarily the truth. People often feel that someone else dislikes them when that is the furthest thing from the other person's mind. Sometimes you feel lonely even when people are trying to reach out to you. Often a wife will feel unloved when her husband doesn't display enough affection, but he still loves her.
Your emotions need to be dealt with, but you shouldn't trust them as an honest evaluation of reality. Don't base truth on how you feel. Your feelings tell you only one thing: how you personally feel. That in of itself is something that must be taken into consideration, but it often portrays things in a light that isn't true. Don't allow your emotions to consume you and control you.
That's the other thing that must be addressed before we go on to expressing your emotions. Don't let your feelings rule you. By definition, self-control is the ability to bring into subjection your emotions. When you become enslaved to your own feelings you lose all ability to deal with relationship problems effectively. Those around you back away, afraid that they'll become the next victims of your feelings. We aren't going to deal with controlling your emotions here, but it is something that you need to do.
So, should you express your feelings to those around you? As a general rule, yes you should, but not to vent, or take revenge, or even to take control. Keep in mind the purpose for expressing yourself. You need to have a reason to do so. Here is the main reason to express your feelings:
Expressing your feelings should be for the purpose of patching up breaches in relationships.
This is the goal and purpose. Often another person will have no idea that you feel a certain way. Until you tell them, they have no idea. As a general rule of thumb, in my pastoral counseling, I always treat a problem as bad as the one who feels the strongest about it. Expressing yourself gives people a gauge to judge the intensity of the problem from your perspective. If you do it right, people won't get defensive or upset. They'll want to help solve the problem so you don't feel that way anymore.
Here are some insights and suggestions that I've learned over the years.
1. Don't use your emotions like a club. Don't attack people with them.
2. Your feelings could be deceptive and lead you to the wrong conclusions. So when expressing yourself, be open minded to the other person's viewpoint.
3. Express yourself calmly, frankly.
4. Don't make the issue between you and someone else. Make your feelings the issue. Invite the other person to join with you in changing, sharing, or understanding your feelings. But be warned: if you make the issue the relationship and not your feelings, you'll put the other person on the defensive. Focus on your feelings WITH the other person. Seek the other person's help in the matter.
5. Try to be objective about your feelings. Admit that you might be seeing things wrongly. Admit that your feelings are just that...how you feel. Objectivity allows for clear thinking.
6. Never express your emotions with anger. Anger is a tool to drive people away from you. It doesn't heal. It doesn't mend. It destroys. It divides. Unless you can be calm about it, you need to avoid talking about it.
These are just six simple things that will help you when you express your emotions to others. There are some lead statements that you can make to help yourself achieve these things.
FOR NEGATIVE EMOTIONS
"I need your help. I have this feeling, good or bad, I've got it. And it concerns you, so I thought you the best person to bring it to."
"I have these feelings that bother me. I don't want them and they aren't helping our relationship. I thought that together we could figure out how to fix them. Could you help?"
"There are some things I need to share with you. I'm warning you, though, they aren't very good. But I might be seeing them wrong, so maybe you could help me with them. You're too important to me to allow these feelings to hurt our relationship. Please bear with me. I might not say it right the first time."
FOR POSITIVE EMOTIONS
These tend to come a bit more naturally. You don't have to fight anger with positive emotions, so the most important bit of advice I can give is to be yourself, be relaxed, but be careful not to overwhelm the person with your feelings.
In some cases, if you are trying to tell someone how much you care for them, they may not be ready, or mature enough, to deal with the intensity of your emotions. In such cases, until you realize they are ready, let your actions speak for you.
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