Why Do You Find It So Difficult to Express Your Feelings?

Expressing your feelings is a healthy and necessary exercise. In the first place, they help you let off steam. Secondly, they allow others to understand your internal world.
Why Do You Find It So Difficult to Express Your Feelings?
Elena Sanz

Written and verified by the psychologist Elena Sanz.

Last update: 21 December, 2022

Feelings are a fundamental part of the inner world of every human being. They help us interpret the world and understand ourselves. However, they’re not only an internal experience, they also need to be shared with other people. In fact, when you’re unable to express your feelings, frustration and dissatisfaction appear on the horizon.

However, why is it so hard for you to talk about how you feel? As a matter of fact, there are multiple reasons. For example, it could originate from some of your early experiences. Once you find the source of it you can take action. Because it’s never too late to learn to manage your feelings.

Did you learn to express your feelings?

Often, the reasons for your reluctance to express your feelings go back to your childhood. In fact, while your temperament has an influence on how you open yourself up emotionally to others, your first experiences in life play a crucial role.

For instance, if you grew up in a family that taught you that showing your feelings was a sign of weakness, you’ve probably learned to repress them. Indeed, if you were rejected or humiliated by your relatives when you expressed your emotions you’ll have learned not to do it again. Similarly, if, as an adult, you received indifference in response to your emotions, you’ve probably internalized the idea that showing how you feel is pretty pointless.

In fact, to develop correct emotional management we need to have adequate models. We need conscious, loving, and understanding parents, willing to listen and guide their children in managing their feelings.

The difficulty of expressing your feelings

Beyond the origins of the situation, there are several reasons why you might, even as an adult, remain unable to express your feelings. Obviously, you can’t relive your childhood in a different way, but you can address the causes that make the problem persist today.

Low self-esteem

If you don’t have healthy self-esteem, you may feel that you don’t have the right to express yourself or complain. In fact, you tend to think that what you feel isn’t important. Therefore you keep it to yourself. It’s also possible that your fear of abandonment prevents you from expressing your true emotions. Indeed, you might not express your feelings due to the fear that, if you do, the other person will withdraw their affection from you.

On the other hand, maybe you don’t express your feelings in order to preserve your fragile self-esteem. In this case, your great fear of rejection makes the expression of your emotions too risky . In effect, you’re building a wall around your feelings that, while it protects you, it also isolates you.

Woman hiding her emotions by covering her face

Lack of assertiveness

Expressing your feelings should be a rewarding and enriching experience through which you allow the other person to understand you and act accordingly. However, when you don’t know how to express yourself, you tend to choose to remain silent in order to avoid conflicts.

Perhaps in the past, sharing your inner feelings created an argument or a misunderstanding. For this reason, because the other’s response wasn’t what you expected you decided, from that moment on, to use evasions and excuses instead of expressing the truth.

Emotional intelligence

Emotional intelligence is the ability to identify, understand, and express feelings. You may be unable to express what you feel, simply because you don’t recognize it too well. Perhaps you don’t possess a wide enough vocabulary concerning emotions, which makes it difficult for you to identify what feeling you’re experiencing. In fact, without this capacity, it’s practically impossible to understand, manage, and share your internal world with others.


It could be that you can’t express what you feel because you try, at all costs, to hide or deny the existence of emotions such as sadness or anger. That’s because you feel that these types of emotional experiences are negative and should be suppressed. In fact, you think that expressing them shows a sign of weakness or a lack of self-control. However, these beliefs are irrational and they make it difficult for you to allow yourself to open up to others, express your frustration, or ask for help when you need it.

Woman covering her face to not express her feelings

How to start expressing your feelings?

Sharing your inner experiences is healthy and extremely necessary. First of all, to free yourself. Second, to let others know what you feel and what you need from them. Therefore, if you have difficulty expressing your emotions and want to reverse this situation, you must take action.

In the first place, you must work on your self-esteem. Then, once you’ve learned to love and accept yourself, you won’t be afraid of anger or rejection by others. Next, you must try and expand your emotional vocabulary. For example, find some new words to express your feelings and try and get out of the habit of just saying “I feel good” or “I feel bad”. Then, you’ll find it much easier to communicate your feelings.

Finally, adopt an assertive attitude when addressing others. Express your opinions, desires, and needs freely and without fear, but without hurting or harming your interlocutor. In this way you’ll avoid misunderstandings.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Salovey, P., & Mayer, J. (1990). Inteligencia emocional. Imaginación, conocimiento y personalidad9(3), 185-211.

  • Pereira, M. L. N. (2008). Relaciones interpersonales adecuadas mediante una comunicación y conducta asertivas/Adequate human relationships through an assertive conducts and communication. Actualidades investigativas en educación8(1).

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.