Sharing how we feel — especially during deeply vulnerable moments — can be so scary!
I remember an experience I had many years ago when I first started dating my partner. In the middle of a discussion, he said something that instantly caused me to feel really insecure. I felt my chest tighten, my heart start to race, and my stomach swirl — the familiar sensations that I experience when I’m feeling rejected and that are connected to emotions from my past relationships and my experiences with racist childhood bullying.
He instantly knew from my energy that I was upset and asked me what was wrong. It was a scary moment of deciding between three options:
In that vulnerable moment, I knew I needed to tell him the truth and share the real reason I was upset. Even though I’d been living in accordance with what I call the “I Don’t Give an F Plan” — meaning I’d committed to being authentic without worrying about how I might be judged or perceived — this was different. Because I care deeply about his thoughts and reactions, I owed it to him to share my feelings.
You’ll have heard me mention before that sharing connects us as humans and opens the door to receiving the love, support, and guidance we need to heal and thrive. Sharing your feelings helps to nurture the authenticity, trust, and open communication that are so important for healthy relationships.
Sharing our true feelings is often frightening because we fear how we’ll be perceived and how others might respond to our vulnerability. The fear of being judged can cause tremendous stress in our bodies. It dysregulates our nervous system and results in the manifestation of unpleasant physical symptoms — think of those uncomfortable situations that cause your muscles to tense, your heart to race, your jaw to lock, your glands to sweat, and more. (Sound familiar?) These physiologically induced reactions occur when our body senses danger, activating our fight, flight, or freeze responses.
And while in one of these states, our brain can stop us from fully communicating everything we need or want to say.
But leaving a situation without openly sharing our feelings and speaking our truth — giving in to the “flight” part of fight, flight, freeze — doesn’t serve us. In fact, it can create additional emotional, mental, and physical stress, while potentially causing tension in a relationship that matters to you.
So what did I do in the situation from before with my partner?
I repeated 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, and I told him that his words made me feel rejected. As I started to share my feelings and express my truth, the empathy I saw on his face melted away all the tension and negativity I had been holding. I could physically feel a weight lifting from my shoulders.
My partner was so kind and loving in that moment because he knew I was speaking from a place of hurt. His response allowed me to calm the agitation in my body, but it also filled me with the reassurance I needed. It was a powerful learning moment for me about why it’s so important to share your feelings, especially when you’re feeling vulnerable.
I know it may feel scary as hell to share vulnerably, especially if you’re dealing with a toxic relationship, but the next time you feel tempted to bury your emotions, pause for a moment. Take a deep breath and ask yourself these questions:
What am I truly feeling in this moment?
What is holding me back from sharing?
What is the worst thing that would happen if I shared?
What would be the benefit of sharing how I truly feel?
Once you’ve had time to think about your answers, you’ll know whether it’s safe to share. Then all you have to do is find the strength to speak.
The beautiful thing here is that it will get easier and easier the more you do it. Leaning into our vulnerable moments and sharing our true, authentic feelings does not weaken us — it makes us stronger.
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