My father was not a skilled communicator but he was successful in business. When it came to talking about his feelings he was a disaster! A handwritten note from him always sounded like an interoffice memo of some kind. If he needed my input on something he would write, “Please advise. Love Dad.” I had a very astute therapist in college who helped me see that if something was going to change in my relationship with my father, it would be me and the way I related to him. I eventually became courageous enough to express myself authentically with my Dad. It was scary in the beginning but I just kept working at it and eventually it became natural. I am so grateful I got to honestly share myself with my father before he died suddenly of a heart attack 17 years ago. Many people are not as fortunate.
Communication is the cornerstone of relationships. It’s through our words and actions that we express our feelings about others. Yet, like my Dad, not everyone has an easy time expressing how they feel. Sometimes fear of rejection or humiliation is the block and other times the person simply can’t find the words.
How often do your true feelings go unexpressed?
I believe we all have a desire to be succinctly understood and sometimes we want that to happen magically but it doesn’t. Many clients in my therapy practice let fear stop them from speaking their mind, making amends or clearing the air in their relationships only to regret it if the other person falls ill or passes away. Whether they want to tell their partner how much of an impact they have on their life, or tell their mom they forgive her, there is so much healing that is lost when the truth goes unsaid.
Self expression can be challenging, especially if you were not encouraged to share your feelings as a child. Many people experience major blocks when it comes to communication around deep feelings. Yet on the other side of that fear of being vulnerable or of ‘doing it wrong’ is endless potential for more love, forgiveness and connection that really can be miraculous. Sometimes with just a few words a relationship can change course and start progressing in the right direction.
If you are someone who has difficulty expressing how you feel, start by becoming curious about yourself. You can begin by practicing, at any point throughout your day, closing your eyes, taking a deep breath and naming 3 emotions you are experiencing. This simple yet effective exercise creates deeper self knowledge. Once you begin to understand what is going on within your own emotional life, it will be easier to communicate your feelings to others.
While it may take time to feel totally at ease saying it like it is, full self expression is possible. The more honestly you share yourself with others the more meaningful and fulfilling your relationships will be. Because…
In the comments below I would love to hear from you. Take your first step towards full self expression by sharing 3 feelings you are experiencing right now. Then continue checking in with yourself and sharing with others throughout this week, and remember, as always, take care of you.
Love Love Love
*image courtesy of Daniel Horacio Agostini