Healthy Ways to Communicate Your Feelings
We each experience a multitude of feelings every day. They range from positive to negative, and both sides of the spectrum can be felt in one day, sometimes even at the same time. When somebody cuts you off in conversation, you might feel angry or disrespected. When your parent or boss yells at you, you may feel upset or worthless.
Feelings and emotions have a significant impact on our relationships and how we communicate. Emotions affect our mindset, our mental health, our interpersonal relationships, and sometimes even our physical health.
Managing our feelings can be the key element between feeling stressed out or like a failure and finding the road to fulfillment and success.
What are feelings and why is communicating them important??
Your entire outlook on life, reality, your experiences, and your interpretations, are based upon your feelings. According to the APA Dictionary of Psychology, a feeling is a conscious subjective experience of emotion.
Your feelings greatly depend on your coping mechanisms and ability to regulate your emotions, as well as your past experiences or traumas that may affect your response to certain situations.
They are automatic responses to a situation, meaning you do not have much control over them unless you practice mindfulness. Feelings can even be intensified or misled by past experiences when certain triggers arise causing you to react in a manner that might be disproportionate to the situation at hand.
Learning to control and regulate your feelings can change your life when you are able to examine negative feelings and redirect them into positive ones. Since emotions control everything, learning to identify and communicate them can have a gigantic impact on your communication skills and overall relationships.
Learning to be honest and communicate effectively in a healthy manner will positively transform your relationships and your overall well-being.
How do you communicate your feelings in healthy ways?
First, we should recognize that all emotions are valid. You cannot control them, but you can recognize when they are not helpful. As long as you try to process your emotions and use them to find positive resolutions, there is no reason to suppress them or apologize for having them.
Tune in and name your emotion. Putting a label on it makes it easier to work toward a solution. Sometimes you may feel more than one emotion, which is normal. Label them both or find a word that covers both such as bittersweet. It may be a good idea to expand your emotional descriptor vocabulary by reviewing some vocabulary lists.
Recognize the surface or secondary emotion. This will be the obvious, usually intense emotion such as anger, anxiety, or guilt. Then look a bit deeper. There is usually a primary, deeper emotion that is igniting the surface emotion, for example, inadequacy, hurt, or grief. Primary emotions tend to deal with more vulnerable feelings and can be deep-rooted.
Sometimes even we aren’t aware of these feelings until we start dissecting. Try to identify the very first emotion you felt in the moment, before your secondary emotion.
Identifying the primary emotion is extremely crucial and beneficial because this will allow the person you are communicating with to better understand what is truly affecting your interaction. If you yell and display anger because someone made fun of your speech, the other person may just shut down their communication.
However, if you explain that you yelled because you felt insecure about your speech and they hurt your feelings and confidence, the other person will be better able to relate to your emotion and more likely to work toward a resolution or a better interaction in the future.
Ask yourself questions to analyze your feelings. If you don’t know where to What?” “Why?” and “How?” questions give you a good sense of direction at first. Ask anything that will help identify the cause of the emotion. Journaling can be beneficial because your thoughts can be organized or rearranged to find patterns or examine causations. If that isn’t your style, talking about the situation with an outside party, such as a friend, family member, life coach, or therapist, can be helpful as well.
Once you have a firm grasp on your feelings, figure out the best time and setting to have a calm, undistracted conversation with the other person involved. Make sure you are both feeling relaxed and can focus fully on the conversation.
Use “I” statements. When you discuss, be careful to not lead your sentences with “When you” or “You made me” or any other “You” statements. This will immediately put the other person into defense mode because they will feel attacked and blamed. Using I statements such as “I felt” helps show your part of the responsibility in the interaction and allows for positive communication. This is the best time to bring up those deep, vulnerable emotions.
Have preconceived solutions but be ready to hear their ideas as well. When you come prepared, it shows you are dedicated to finding a solution and bettering the relationship.
Explain why these solutions make sense. Bonus points if you have benefits to outline that will benefit everyone involved.