Sharing your feelings is no easy feat. It's one thing when they're happy feelings and you want to set off sparklers, but it's another when you're struggling to find the right words because you're so angry. Though it can seem impossible and awkward, you need to learn how to share your feelings. While it could seem easy to just bite your tongue and deal with them in private, you're not doing yourself any favors by not speaking up for yourself. By airing out your grievances, you can strengthen your relationships, become happier at work, learn how to self-advocate, and become comfortable standing up for yourself. After all, who loves being a welcome mat? It sometimes takes guts sharing your angry or disappointed feelings, but it's necessary in order to make sure you're being treated fairly and with the respect you deserve.
But what can you do when you're either too nervous to bring something up, or are afraid you'll rock too many boats with your comments? These are all common feelings many of us have, but they're not valid excuses for sitting on your hands. Instead, you need to realize your feelings are valid and need a couple of tips that will get you started on sharing your thoughts. Here are seven ways you can share your feelings (especially if you're bad at it.)
1. Get Comfortable With The Fact That It's OK To Have These Feelings
Often times when we aren't comfortable sharing our feelings, it's because we don't think that they're valid or worthy of being shared. The idea that "it's our own problem" gets into our heads, and we just sit on them until we figure a way to live with them or forget about them.
So the first tip on how to finally get yourself to share your feelings is to allow yourself to believe that your feelings are valid. You have them for a certain reason, and you need to work through them to create a solution.
Melissa A. Fabello, domestic violence prevention and sexuality educator, wrote for Everyday Feminism, "If you don’t think that your emotions have worth, then that’s going to be a huge barrier in feeling comfortable expressing them." So change the way you've been treating yourself: Every feeling you have is valid, and it deserves to be worked through.
2. It's Cliche But True: Keep In Mind People Aren't Mind Readers
While a friend or co-worker could have royally pissed you off, it's not fair to think that they know exactly what they've done and that they're now responsible to make it up to you. For all you know, this is how they treat everyone and you interpreted it the wrong way, or they didn't even realize they said something offhanded or worthy of insult. Keep that in mind next time you debate over whether you should stew or speak your mind.
Lea McLeod, career coach and contributor to career development site The Muse, explained "No manager is a mind reader. You can’t assume that anyone knows what’s bugging you—you have to speak up for yourself." When you have negative feelings, the only person responsible for approaching them is you.
3. Trust That The Person Is Going To Care To Find A Solution
Another issue you might have when expressing your feelings is believing that no one will care enough to fix them. But that's not true! If it's your friends, they love you enough to make sure you're happy, and if it's your boss, they respect and appreciate you enough to make sure that you have a positive working environment you look forward coming to.
Farbello explained, "When people care about you, they care about your well-being, and they care about how they contribute to (or detract from) that well-being." So don't worry about nobody caring how you actually feel — everyone generally wants to keep the peace, so air your grievances.
4. Try To Use More Vulnerable Adjectives
Now that you've finally convinced yourself to bring your feelings up, you need some tactics on how to do so. You want to be heard, but you might be worried that someone will go on the defensive with you. To avoid that, try using more vulnerable adjectives like "worried," "uncomfortable," or "upset" rather than "angry."
Susan Heitler Ph.D., therapist and author of From Conflict to Resolution, told Psychology Today, "Words that label the vulnerable feeling that lies under anger optimize the likelihood you will be heard without defensiveness." If you spring on someone that you're angry, chances are they'll want to defend themselves why they didn't make you feel that way. But if you use more vulnerable language, they'll want to help you fix your problem.
5. Use The Words "I Feel" And Not "You Make Me Feel"
Speaking of language, be careful how you start the conversation. In the same vain as the "vulnerable words" tactic, you want to make sure you don't put your other party on the defensive. So rather than blaming them with a phrase like "you make me feel," make sure you take ownership for your emotions and use "I."
Heitler explained, "'You make me feel' comes across as an accusation, a statement of blame, not a statement of your feelings." Those feelings are yours — own them!
6. Figure Out What You're Asking For When Bringing Up Your Feelings
Once you know exactly what you feel and what's not working for you, you need to figure out what you're asking for when you bring up your feelings. You don't want it to just be an angry accusation, no matter how good that might feel. You're sharing them in order to change something and make a situation better. So before approaching anyone, make sure you think about exactly what would make the situation better.
McLeod explained, "By leveraging your talking points this way, you can effectively turn what may sound like complaints into something much more positive for everyone..." In this way, you're trying to solve a problem and not just ranting. Which will make it so much easier for you to bring it up in the first place. Why? Because you're not being "mean," you're trying to strengthen your relationships and better your life.
7. Expect Feedback
Another reason to convince you to speak your mind is that, once you do, you could receive valuable feedback that could help you to grow as a person. Depending on what happens, you could learn that expressing your feelings isn't actually that hard, you can learn how others react and try to work with you, how to go back and forth and problem solve, or how to stand your ground. Mike Bundrant, author of Your Achilles Eel: Discover and Overcome the Hidden Cause of Negative Emotions, Bad Decisions and Self-Sabotage, told Psych Central, "Be open to it. You might learn something that changes it all for you."
Every time you speak your mind and defend yourself is a learning experience. If you're not quite brave enough to stand up for yourself every time, at least don't jip yourself that learning opportunity.
With these tips in mind, chances are you'll feel a little more at ease the next time you want to share your feelings. Remember: It's not scary. People deserve to know how you feel, and you deserve to get those solutions!