Ten Attitudes That Keep You From Expressing Your Feelings
This is a little something to help us understand WHY we may have trouble expressing our emotions. How about listing some of the things that prevent you from expressing yourself. I'll go first- it'll be at the bottom after this.
1. Conflict phobia. You are afraid of angry feelings or conflicts with
people. You may believe that people with good relationships shouldn't fight or
argue. You may also believe that the people you care about would be hurt and
couldn't take it if you told them how you felt or what was really on your mind.
This is the "ostrich phenomenon," because you bury your head in the sand instead
of dealing with the problems in your relationship.
2. Emotional perfectionism. You believe that you shouldn't have irrational feelings like anger, jealousy, depression, or anxiety. You think you should always be rational and in control of your emotions. You are afraid of being exposed as weak and vulnerable. You believe that people will look down on you if they find out how you really feel.
3. Fear of disapproval and rejection. You are so terrified by rejection and ending up alone that you'd rather swallow your feelings and put up with some abuse than take the chance of making anyone mad at you. You feel an excessive need to please people and to meet everybody's expectations. You are afraid that people would not like you if you expressed your own ideas and feelings.
4. Passive-aggressiveness. You pout and hold your hurt and angry feelings inside instead of sharing them openly and honestly. You give others the silent treatment and try to make them feel guilty instead of sharing your feelings.
5. Hopelessness. You feel convinced that your relationship cannot improve no matter what you do, so you give up. You may feel that you've already tried everything and nothing works. You may believe that your spouse (or partner) is just too stubborn and insensitive to be able to change. This acts as a self-fulfilling prophecy. Once you give up, things get stuck and you conclude that your situation is hopeless.
6. Low self-esteem. You believe that you aren't entitled to express your feelings or to ask others for what you want. You think you should always please other people and meet their expectations.
7. Spontaneity. You believe that you have the right to say precisely what you think and feel when you are upset. You may feel that any change in the way you communicate will sound phony and ridiculous.
8. Mind reading. You believe that people should know how you feel and what you want without your having to express yourself directly. This gives you a perfect excuse to hold your feelings inside, and to feel resentful because people don't seem to care about your needs.
9. Martyrdom. You are afraid to admit that you're angry, because you don't want to give anyone the satisfaction of knowing that their behavior upsets you. You take enormous pride in controlling your emotions and suffering silently.
10. Need to solve problems. When you have a conflict with someone, you go around and around in circles trying to solve the problem instead of sharing your feelings openly and hearing how the other person feels.
Burns, D. (1989). The feeling good handbook. New York: William Morrow.
Emotional perfectionism: I feel like I should always have control over my emotions and I shouldn't have any emotions that may leave me vulnerable.
Healthy answer: I cannot always control my emotions, I cannot deny how I feel. If someone makes me angry, I should be angry- that IS the rational response. Holding it in or denying it is actually the irrational response.
Fear of disapproval and rejection: I learned as a child that having emotions was a bad thing and any effort to express them was met with abuse. Thus, now I'm terrified at expressing myself, that I will displease someone, or that if I expressed myself, they won't like me anymore.
Healthy answer: Emotions and feelings are part of being human- I should have every right to express them like everyone else. The other person may not like my response or emotion, but that does not mean they will hurt me or abuse me. That was in the past, and not now. I can't please everyone all the time, I need to express myself in a healthy manner, even if that means it will make someone else unhappy.
Low self-esteem: At times I don't feel important enough to express myself.
Healthy response: I am as important as the next person and have every right to express myself.
Need to solve problems: This one gets me in trouble...rather than just outright talking about feelings, I try and solve the problem by going around and around, rather than just going for the heart of the matter.
Healthy response: Talking about the feelings of the conflicts can help to understand how to solve them, rather than trying to solve them first. I may even find out they feel the same way as me. Honesty is the best policy here.
Hope this helps...