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Talking about feelings

Feelings, express them, repress them, shout them or smother them, but we all have them. How we express our feelings can make a big difference to how we relate to others and to how well our relationships work.  If we can express feelings in a way that connects us to friends and family then they strengthen the bonds between us. Sharing feelings are a big part of how we cope with and get through events and situations. When we have negative feelings and we repress them they can fester ready to explode out and cause problems later on.

Express feelingLearning to talk about feelings in a good way is an important life lesson. One of the key parts is to own the thought or feeling so “I feel…”, “I think …” or “I felt …” This is important because it shows that you are taking responsibility for the feeling. You are not blaming someone else. Finally it is your feeling so no-one can tell you that you are wrong.

Talking about our feelings strengthens us physically and emotionally and conversely bottling up feelings will tend to cause us harm. Typically we feel more anxiety, stress or depression. We may notice headaches or have difficulty in sleeping. Finding a safe way to express our feelings with someone who cares for strengthens relationships and bonds.

When discussion feelings with a friend or partner. You should avoid at all costs making accusations, “your comments make me feel bad about myself” or “You make me angry”. These types of responses set up an almost automatic defence in the recipient whether true or not and the fighting starts. When you substitute “I feel …” you focus on the behaviour not the person: “I feel upset when jokes are made about my appearance, I like it when people notice my new clothes”.

Of course part of talking about your feelings is tuning into them and knowing what they are. It’s surprising how easy it is to notice feelings, yet at the same time it can be difficult to describe the sensation to another.  Sometimes it helps to notice the intensity of the feeling, or start with one word and change it depending on how ‘right’ it feels. The point is to give yourself time to notice how you are feeling. It gets easier with practice.

While talking to friends and family can help us. Sometimes though friends are not enough to help us, or perhaps we worry that we are affecting our friends and family with our problems. Then perhaps is the time to think about a counsellor or a therapist. Sometimes a person who is detached from the situation a people can offer you a clearer perspective of your problems and issues and set you off in a new direction.

Remember that ultimately whether in a relationship, in the counselling room or talking to yourself the purpose of expressing your feelings is the same to let it out in a controlled safe, positive way. This allows you to move on with your life having dealt with the feelings surrounding the events and issues in your life. If feelings are recurring and won’t go away perhaps it is time that you sought the help of a counsellor.

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