Are you wondering… how do I express my feelings?
You’ve got all of these emotions bubbling inside of you, some painful, some confusing, and you want to express them.
Well, you’re in the right place for expressing feelings.
When I was an executive coach, one client’s family used to call me The Feelings Lady.
Yep, the power of feelings… and thoughts, can make your life work for you.
Maybe that should be my brand: The Feelings Lady.
We feel it to heal it
As we feel our emotions, then let them pass through us like clouds in the sky, we are healing our lives.
In The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel Van der Kolk M.D., he writes, “Neuroscience research shows that the only way we can change the way we feel is by becoming aware of our inner experience and learning to befriend what is going on inside of ourselves.”
“Befriend what is going on inside” is referring to feelings and sensations.
Allow the fear, hurt, heartache, and anger. Then there’s the tension, pulsing, frog in throat kind of sensations.
However, feelings are going on inside of us and as we befriend those prickly feelings, we change the way we feel.
So yes, it’s work. It’s really hard. And I don’t like it at all!
Dr. Van der kolk says in TBKTS, “As long as you keep secrets and suppress information, you are fundamentally at war with yourself…The critical issue is allowing yourself to know what you know. That takes an enormous amount of courage.”
Yea, it’s a lot.
I suggest a number of emotional release techniques, depending on what you’re comfortable with.
A typical day with feelings
You’re going about your day, feeling your emotions, and thinking all kinds of things about your emotions.
You might question why you’re upset, why you’re afraid, why you’re hurt.
You want to be free of it!
That’s the sticky part, unfortunately.
Many of us don’t have the skills to feel our emotions and think in self-loving, supportive ways, and remind us that we’re enough and worthy of love.
Dr. Dan Siegel: Name it to Tame it
Dr. Dan Siegel, a noted psychologist, is known for helping parents coach their children through their feelings, so they’ll express feelings instead of acting out.
His work is changing the ways parents and children express feelings. I’m personally very grateful for his groundbreaking work.
Dr. Siegel says that as we name how we feel, as we Name it to Tame it… in the brain, the limbic brain calms down to some degree, helping us to feel calmer.
For example: I feel sad, mad, glad, or bad.
In his book, No-Drama Discipline: The Whole-Brain Way to Calm the Chaos and Nurture Your Child’s Developing Mind, Dr. Siegel writes, “Imagine the last time you felt really sad or angry or upset. How would it have felt if someone you love told you, “You need to calm down,” or “It’s not that big a deal”? Or what if you were told to “go be by yourself until you’re calm and ready to be nice and happy”? These responses would feel awful, wouldn’t they? Yet these are the kinds of things we tell our kids all the time. When we do, we actually increase their internal distress, leading to more acting out, not less.”
Expressing Negative Emotion.
Expressing negative feelings is something you’ll read about quite a bit on the internet.
According to Hopkins Medicine, “negative emotions make us feel bad, sap our energy, and lower our self-esteem.”
Some examples of negative emotions may include anger, emptiness, frustration, inadequacy, fear, guilt, shame, depression, jealousy, and envy.
However, I don’t think of any emotion as negative, instead, they’re uncomfortable.
The reason I distinguish emotions as uncomfortable versus negative, is so that people won’t avoid them, because the person feels like they’re negative or a failure simply because they feel a certain way.
Emotions aren’t who you are, they are just how you feel.
How to Identify Your Feelings
How do you identify your feelings? This may seem obvious, but in my 25+ years coaching people, this can be confusing.
To identify how you feel, drop out of your head for a moment.
Say, goodbye head.
Now, be in your body and notice the sensation.
You can scan your body for tension, knots, elevated temperature, and heaviness.
To help you identify the feeling, the Feelings Wheel by Dr. Gloria Wilcox is a fantastic resource.
I use it all of the time.
As you become more and more capable of expressing your emotions, you invite others in your life to express theirs!
Here’s another example of the Feelings Wheel.
What’s a Way to Express Your Feelings?
Say, I feel… state the feeling. For example, I feel afraid. I feel angry. I feel hurt.
Use I feel… instead of I am.
Because you are not the emotion, you are simply having the emotion or feeling the emotion.
Remember, you are 100% entitled to whatever you’re feeling. Emotions are not logical of pretty.
What if you don’t express your feelings?
Unexpressed emotions stay in the body and that’s not healthy for you or anyone!
Think of your emotions like a teapot, the old-fashioned kind with a little flip thing at the spout.
As the water gets hot…
As the water begins to get hot, the teapot is simmering and quiet.
However, when the water reaches a boiling point, the teapot lets out a shrill whistle!
A loud, persistent whistle until you turn the heat off!
The teapot with boiling water is like your emotions coming to the surface!
Your emotions when ignored will heat up!
The emotions are in there, heating up… needing somewhere to go.
When you express feelings, you’re giving your emotions somewhere to go!
If you don’t express emotions, then the teapot flips its lid! It shoots out fire!
Inside the teapot… it’s pure pressure. And for us humans, pressure in the body needs to go somewhere.
When we express ourselves it allows the pressure to go somewhere.
With unexpressed emotions, pressure builds and the result can wear the body out, you can become ill, and you’ll feel more and more shut down.
Remember to breathe.
It’s important to breathe throughout as you’re expressing your feelings. Take a deep breath or a few deep breaths to calm down the body.
Expressing Emotions Through Art and Writing
Journaling is a wonderful way of expressing emotions in a way that feels safe. Just be sure you give someone instructions to blow up the journal if they find it and you’re not around… if you know what I mean.
Creative arts like painting, drawing, writing and acting are all great ways of expressing emotions.
Expression of emotions and the soul.
As a soul coach, what I hear a lot is: I want to openly and honestly express my feelings.
And a good thing, because expressing emotions is a very important part of caring for the soul and being a soulful person.
Plus, it’s a key part of healing your life and following your soul’s path.
Obviously, people enjoy positive feelings like happiness, joy, excitement, etc. However, uncomfortable feelings like fear, anger, and anxiety all play an important role in our life.
Think of emotions as messengers, telling us what we need.
Self-Talk For Self-Expression
Your feelings are yours and yours alone.
And, when you try to express them, you may feel tongue tied. That’s understandable because when we’re upset, we don’t think as clearly!
As you become comfortable expressing your feelings in your own head, you are more likely to be more comfortable expressing your feelings to others!
So, here’s a positive self-talk script to give you a feel for what that inner conversation might sound like:
I love myself enough to let myself feel this way.
Even though, all my life, I’ve worried that I’m too sensitive.
And it hurts to hear it because as a result of being told that I’m too sensitive, I find that I dumb down my feelings and that I swallow them and I ignore them, and I repress them.
I pretend my feelings aren’t there and I can feel them in my body.
I feel that I am not allowing myself to feel what is naturally coming up for me, and I’m not going to do that anymore.
I honor what’s true for me.
I’m going to honor whatever feelings come up in a way that respects me and respects others.
I will not ignore my emotions any longer.
So when I’m angry, I’m going to allow myself to feel angry. I’m going to find healthy ways to handle that anger and express my feelings.
And when I feel afraid, I’m going to feel afraid. I will find nurturing ways to feel safe, decrease my fear, and allow it to exist in my life. I am human and fear is part of this human experience.
I give myself the space to honor emotional expression.
As with all these emotions that are uncomfortable for me and uncomfortable for other people, I love myself enough to allow the space to feel it.
I give myself the time each day to feel whatever comes up because I know that when I’m really busy, I tend to ignore how I feel.
And instead of feeling it, I might do things to distract myself from feeling it. I know that doesn’t serve me. I know that doesn’t love me.
Ask myself: How am I feeling at this moment?
I am honoring how I feel by showing up for it each day and asking myself… how are you feeling at this moment?
And then being honest with myself, with how I feel, and then allowing myself to feel it. This is a habit. I am creating so that I don’t ignore how I feel.
I am committed to honoring my emotions so that I can be healthy and I can be open to what’s happening in my life.
I love myself enough to allow myself to feel this way.
We feel it to heal it. That’s how the body is made. As you allow yourself the full range of your emotions, you bring them to the surface where they can be processed and healed.
Part of your destiny includes healing the fear, hurt, heartache, and anger. Give yourself enough grace to do so.
And as you do, you’re helping heal yourself and the planet.