11 Steps to Express Your Emotions
Many people find it difficult to express their emotions. Some people excessively express what they feel, and others don’t share enough. Knowing how to express your emotions in an accurate and measured way will help you immensely in your personal, social, and professional life.
There are many theories and techniques that teach how to either repress or control emotions. It has been proven though, that this approach is not actually effective. Emotions and feelings are spontaneous and automatic, and are meant to be felt and expressed.
It has been proven on a scientific level that avoiding and repressing emotions can have negative psychological consequences. Modern therapies like acceptance and commitment therapy, and other practices such as mindfulness, can help you to accept your emotions and know how to treat them. Your emotions are part of you and need to be taken care of.
For example, if you are a person who experiences a lot of emotional anxiety, you may do certain things and behave in a certain way in an attempt to avoid that anxiety. This may be because you aren’t sure how to channel it and express it.
This emotional repression can cause physical problems, such as rapid heart beat, excessive sweating, trembling, or breathing problems. When feelings are held back, tension is created. This tension may be concentrated physically in areas like the neck, face, various muscles, and spine.
If, on the other hand, you cling to these emotions without expressing them, you may be susceptible to experiencing psychosomatic illnesses of the arteries, head aches, or stomach problems. It is a indisputable fact that your emotions influence our physical health. Knowing how to express your emotions can help prevent physical problems and emotional pain.
Know how to express your emotions in 11 steps
With a little bit of training and by following these simple steps, you will be able to better identify your emotions and express them appropriately. Below is an outline of these eleven steps so you can start to put them into practice:
- Identify the emotion and the feeling: When something changes in your body from reacting to something, either external or something within your own thoughts, you should ask yourself: What am I feeling? What physical symptoms am I experiencing? What is the cause? Why is it happening now?
- Learn to recognize your feelings: Once you have detected your emotions and feelings, you have to analyze the sensation that it creates within you. It is useful to know what signs and gestures betray you. Try to make a list of all of those emotions and what exactly it is that physically gives them away.
- Pay attention to your body’s reaction: Emotions are regulated by the limbic system and the nervous system, and are difficult to control when they first arise. Take a moment and let the emotion you are feeling settle so you can think clearly about it, and about how you will react to it.
- Pay more attention to how you respond to a given situation: You may feel like the situation is what makes you nervous, but the root of the problem is your emotional response to the situation. Observe yourself and you will realize that your response is the same as when you can’t find an important paper, or when you get fined for a traffic violation you didn’t commit. The only thing you can change is your reaction.
- Express your emotions correctly and proportionally: Once you have fully grasped the previous step, you will be able to express your emotions in a more controlled way. Still, though, you can learn a few more steps to help you understand what is happening to you so you can express it accurately.
- Communicate with and experience your body: When you have these strong emotions, take note of the part of your body from where they originate. Give them a color and a tangible texture. Place them in a specific place and try to form a different relationship with them. You are that which comprises your body and your emotions; they do not possess you.
- Try to be honest about what you feel and what you do: If, in reality, you feel indifferent about someone or something, why keep trying to make it work? Or if you are irritated, annoyed, and angry, why avoid a conversation that might help you understand yourself a little better.
- Choose the best situation in which to express yourself: If, for example, you have a conflict with your boss and want to have a constructive conversation with him or her, you will get nowhere if you choose the wrong moment in which to have it. Therefore, examine the situation, the people around you, and yourself when deciding when the best moment will be.
- Utilize a positive form of communication: A pleasant tone, active listening, eye contact, and using simple phrases like “I feel stressed” instead of “what happened at work today made me so stressed” will help you avoid a situation in which you need to go back and describe what happened. The other person will implicitly understand that your stress is clearly caused by work.
- Use your body to help yourself express what you feel: In the process of explaining that you are stressed, put your hand on your heart, on your head, or on your stomach. This insinuates that you are experiencing unpleasant feelings and that it would be good for you and your environment to not continue on in that state.
- Visualizing and localizing your emotions is essential: You are in charge of managing your own emotions and feelings, without repressing them or hiding them. You need to express them in order to be able to relieve and ease yourself and your mind, and so that they themselves can be understood.
How to calm your emotions on your own
Sometimes emotional discomfort has nothing to do with an actual concrete situation. You may be sad because of things you remember, or you feel under the weather, or for any sad thought that may be in your head. In these situations, you can apply what has already been mentioned: accept these feelings as part of yourself. Feel the discomfort and accept that you are a living person who should cherish those feelings.
Accepting ourselves as emotional beings is the key to be able to know which emotions are those which we should hold on to, and which we should express to others.
Emotions are part of the evolution of humans as a species and are also what define and separate humans from the rest of the animals that inhabit the earth. Emotions are natural, so don’t struggle against them over and over again. Let them be, and in the mean time, try to relax. Find something else to occupy your mind like talking to someone, writing, or going for a walk.
If you do experience overwhelmingly powerful emotions like rage, try playing an intense sport. That will allow you to discharge your pent up anger and stress that can build up inside.
Images courtesy of Christian Schloe