How to Share Your Feelings
During a conversation with my boyfriend a few months ago, he made a comment that brought up feelings of extreme insecurity for me in that moment. I could instantly feel my chest tighten, my heart start to race, and my stomach swirl – sensations in my body that I experience when I’m feeling rejected that I know are connected to emotions from previous relationships and the childhood bullying I experienced.
He instantly picked up from my energy that I was upset and asked me what was wrong. It was a scary moment of deciding between “Do I tell him the truth, that I’m feeling rejected by what he said?” or “Do I get mad at him about something else instead because the truth is too hard to share?”
Ever since I wrote my book, I been living in accordance to what I call the I Don’t Give an F Plan, meaning I have committed to being as authentic as possible without worrying about how I’m judged or perceived. But this interaction was different, because I deeply care about my boyfriend’s thoughts and reactions to my feelings.
In that vulnerable moment, I knew that it was important to tell him the truth, to share the real reason for why I was upset, because of the importance of authenticity, trust, and communication in relationships. Also, as I’ve mentioned before, sharing connects us as humans to each other and opens a door to receiving the love, support, and guidance we need to heal.
So after repeating a few mantras in my head – “I can do this!” and “I am safe!” – to help calm the sick feeling that was flowing through my body, I spoke and told him that I was feeling rejected because of what he had just said. As I told him my truth, I could see the empathy all over my boyfriend’s face. And let me tell you, I could physically feel the weight lifting from my shoulders.
My boyfriend, of course, was so kind and loving in that moment because he knew I was speaking from a place of woundedness. His response gave me exactly what I needed to not only calm the agitation in my body, but also fill me with the reassurance I needed. It was a powerful learning moment for me about the importance of sharing the truth about how I’m feeling, especially when I’m vulnerable and it’s scary as hell.
Sharing how we really feel is often frightening because we’re afraid of how we might appear when we do, and how the other person might respond to our vulnerable moment. The fear of being judged negatively can cause tremendous stress in our bodies – it literally dysregulates our nervous system and results in the manifestation of physical symptoms. We’ve all experienced really uncomfortable situations that cause our muscles to tense, our hearts to race, our jaws to lock, our glands to sweat and more – these natural responses are physiological reactions in moments where our body senses danger and prepares us to either to aggressively tackle the problem, run to safety, or stop like a deer in headlights – fight, flight or freeze responses. When we’re in these states, our brains can shut down, stopping us from communicating what we really need or want to say.
But when we leave a situation without openly sharing our feelings, and when speaking our truth would have been best for us, it doesn’t serve us. In fact, not only is it likely to cause you additional emotional, mental, and physical stress, but it could potentially cause tension in a relationship that really matters to you. Instead, the next time you find yourself holding back in sharing how you feel, here are some questions to ask yourself:
What is truth of what I want to say about how I’m feeling?
If you could speak your mind without consequences, what would you share about how you’re feeling? What would you say that would truly reflect your authentic self?
What is holding me back from sharing?
What are you afraid of? What is holding you back from sharing what you’re feeling?
What is the worst thing that would happen if I shared?
Will sharing hurt you? How long will those feelings last for?
What would be the benefit of sharing how I truly feel?
How will sharing serve you? How freeing will it feel for you?
The next time you’re in a vulnerable moment and want to bury your feelings, push yourself to pause. Instead, take a deep breath and go through your responses to the questions above to help you find the strength to speak. The beautiful thing here is that it will get easier and easier the more you do it.