Sometimes I feel like the world is afraid of feelings.
We listen to sad songs and mope, but when someone asks us what’s wrong, we don’t want to talk about it.
Either people are afraid to show their feelings or don’t know how to express them and simply suppress them — so much so that trying to understand how someone actually feels is like pulling teeth.
Why does everyone shy away from their feelings? When people feel strongly, rather than try to understand why they are experiencing these emotions, they shove them down and just get back to work. But why?
I just don’t understand. I’ve always been in touch with how I feel. I want people to know what I’m feeling and why I’m feeling it so they can understand me better. It’s how problems get solved. It’s how people get closer.
When did talking about feelings become such a difficult and negative thing? When did “Let’s not worry about it and just have fun!” become the go-to response to anything remotely difficult in life?
It’s infuriating. So if this sounds like something you do, then I’m going to help you out. I’m going to tell you how to understand your feelings which will help you actually communicate them to others.
A little self-serving? Maybe. I’m just tired of dating emotionally unavailable men. But still, it’s good practice for anyone. It’ll not only help you feel better about yourself, it’ll help you connect with others and not alienate those that just want to get close to you.
Oh, are you feeling uncomfortable? GOOD. You should. Because if you shy away from feelings simply because they make you uncomfortable, then you NEED this.
And it’s really just about 3(ish) simple steps:
Step 1: Get a piece of paper and a pen.
Buy a journal. Open a blank document. Find a place to physically write words. Keep in mind, nothing you write will ever be read again. No one will see it. You will never have to see it again. This is a one-time window. So stop freaking out—no one will see it. Not even you. So really, it doesn’t matter what you write. It will happen and then it’ll go away. No pressure, just honesty. Got it? Okay, then you’re ready for step two.
Step 2: Ask yourself: “How do I feel right now?”
I mean this literally. How do you feel? How does writing this down make you feel? How does sitting here, feeling a feeling make you feel? Remember, no one will ever read this, not even you. Do you feel stupid? Do you feel pointless? Do you feel like this is useless advice and you’ll never be able to fix your weird aversion to feelings? I don’t care, but be honest and write down exactly how you feel. Now.
Step 3: Ask yourself: “Why do I feel this way?”
This is the harder step, but it’s the one that changes everything. Whatever you’re feeling, try to figure out why. Do you feel stupid because you aren’t going to take this seriously? Do you feel pointless because you’ll never understand your feelings so why bother trying? Write it down. Remember, be honest — literally no one will ever see this.
Step 4: Repeat Step 3 over and over and over.
So now, ask yourself why you feel that way, too. You think this is stupid because you’ll never take it seriously? Why won’t you take it seriously? Is it because it’s hard? Why is it so hard? Is it because you’ve never done this before? Then why haven’t you ever asked yourself this question?
Keep digging. Keep asking. Keep asking why. And keep writing it down. Because the problem that most people have when it comes to their feelings is that they just accept the feeling at face value. They acknowledge, “I am angry” but never ask why. And since they don’t want to be angry, they shy away from the emotion. They run, they hide from it. But the reason they’re angry still exists. You’re still holding onto the things that are hurting you and the thing that made you angry isn’t going away. You can’t avoid something if you don’t know what it is. You can’t fix a problem if you can’t identify it in the first place.
And that’s why writing it down makes a difference. Rather than keeping these questions all muddled up in your head, you put it down on paper so you can see it and focus on it as you ask yourself the next round of “whys?” By tackling every “why” individually, it slows your brain down. It disconnects you from how strongly you feel and starts to go deeper into what is causing the emotions, rather than just the emotion itself.
You’ll feel yourself wanting to write down what you think you should write down. It will feel like a pull or a tug to say what you tell others, to brush off the question or make an excuse. But be honest. What do you have to lose? No one, not even you, will ever read this again.
A Journal Is NOT A Reminder
People think of journals as these documents that let us relive our pasts, but who wants to do that? I have filled up plenty of journals that I never, ever want to read again. They were my most personal, private, and often painful moments that I tried to work through on paper. Why would I ever want to relive that? So I don’t. I never read my past entries. It happened, I got through it, and that’s that. Each and every time I sit down to think about why I feel the way I do, it’s a one-time thing.
It’s a one-time thing that I do every day.
And then I move on.
Honestly, if I ever did go back, most of my entries would probably be the same thing over and over. I felt a feeling and kept feeling it, so each day I worked through it a little more. And I started to understand why it wouldn’t go away, and how I could start to fix the problem. More often than not, it was painful feelings about a relationship that I didn’t fully understand. And I couldn’t address these feelings with the person I was seeing until I understood them myself. But it didn’t mean I didn’t feel them. I wanted to learn what was triggering these emotions and uncover exactly what I needed in order to stop feeling those emotions.
You can’t expect anyone to read your mind. You have to understand yourself before others can understand you, and asking why? will help you do just that.
The only way to get there is to stop running from our emotions and tackle them head on. Stop being afraid of how you feel—learn from it.
Do you journal?
How comfortable are you with your emotions?