Have you ever found yourself unable to find the words to say how you really feel?
Have you ever been unsure exactly what it is you are feeling?
Yes, the need to express oneself is inherent in humanity.
Life is complicated and brings with it both beautiful and horrible experiences. The experiences that we have shape our world, our personality, the way we perceive things, the way we interact with people, how we trust, and how we act.
The ability to express your feelings and emotions in words is so important to making yourself understood.
After all, there are over seven billion people on this planet. That’s seven billion different perceptions forged by the experiences and interactions of those people.
Expressing your emotions through words is necessary to build bridges with other people, whether they be strangers turning into friends, strengthening the bonds of love, or navigating the world with family, friends, or other loved ones.
The ability to articulate how you feel is also important to understand yourself and the way you interact with the world. It’s much easier to identify strengths, weaknesses, or potential problems if you can put words to your emotions.
How do you go about doing that?
1. Create an environment where you can think critically and process information.
There are particular environments where you are going to have a difficult time doing any quality contemplation.
So, firstly, find or create a space for yourself where you can sit with your thoughts and process whatever you are trying to work out.
What constitutes a good environment for thought can mean different things to different people. Some people prefer peace and silence, others prefer some kind of white noise or even music.
It also helps if your environment can put you in the appropriate mental space to feel those emotions that you are trying to express.
A writing trick that may help you get into the appropriate mental space is to put on headphones and listen to music that reflects the type of emotions that you are trying to write about.
If it’s something sad, listen to sad music. If it’s something angry, listen to angrier music. Headphones are optimal because they will drown out other distractions that may be around you and interrupt your train of thought.
Listening to a particular song you know well on a loop can also help. Since you already know the words to the song, you can zone out to the music and free your mind from actually thinking about what you’re listening to. This gives your creative mind more room to function and flow.
2. Engage in free writing with a pen and notepad.
Free writing is an exercise that writers use to help overcome self-doubt, apathy, and writer’s block.
Essentially, the writer will just sit down and start writing anything and everything that comes to mind, letting their mind go where it wants instead of trying to drive it down a particular road to a concrete destination.
That gives the writer an opportunity to blow away any cobwebs and get the creative juices flowing without worrying about technical perfection.
You do not worry about grammar, structure, or even writing full sentences or thoughts when free writing.
We’re going to change this approach just a little bit for the purposes of expressing our feelings.
Instead of letting your mind go wherever it wants to go, try to steer it in the general direction of whatever it is you’re feeling and write everything down that comes to you.
That way you’ll hopefully have a page or two of relevant information you can sort through to refine what you are trying to express.
There are times when the words are harder to find than others. Be sure to give yourself at least an hour to sit down, clear your mind, and work.
You should be using a pen and paper for this exercise. The act of physically writing is much slower and more deliberate than typing. It will force you to think about how to articulate your words as you write them in a way that differs from typing.
Journaling should also be done with pen and paper for the same reasons.
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3. Use what you wrote to hone what you need to express into a single sentence.
The work toward articulating your feelings begins with identifying what the source of those feelings actually is.
You want to get as close to the root of the issue as you possibly can and be able to state it in the form of a single sentence.
Why a single sentence?
The goal is to clarify what the problem actually is so that it can be easily communicated to whomever the target audience is – or even for yourself if you don’t intend to talk out loud about it.
You should have a decent chunk of information surrounding the emotions that you are trying to express. Look at what you free wrote out and try to identify the root of the emotions.
For example, if you are in counseling because of relationship troubles, simply stating that you have relationship troubles is not all that clear. It will require more refinement to actually get to the root of the problem so that it can be addressed.
On the other hand, if you can work down to, “I don’t feel like I can trust my current partner,” you then have a concise place to start looking for a cause of and solution to that issue.
In relating that sentence to whomever the target audience is, you may find that they have a differing perception of events or feelings about whatever happened. That allows you to find common ground and begin working through whatever the issue might be.
4. Analyze the overall situation and determine if what you want to say must be said.
There are a lot of people out there who clamor for you to speak your truth, not hold back, and make sure your voice is heard.
Generally speaking, that isn’t terrible advice. However, there are caveats.
Let’s say, for example, Amy comes from a dysfunctional family. Mom and dad are not great people, siblings are toxic.
Amy realizes that something is very wrong with her family dynamic and recognizes that their toxicity and dysfunction is likely the cause of her anxiety and depression.
She may decide to go to therapy to work this out, identify it as a problem, and may choose to confront the issue.
But, will voicing these revelations help or harm her? What does she stand to gain from doing so?
Even worse, if she has manipulative family members, they may use her own emotions as a weapon against her.
She may finally decide to stand up for herself, and a manipulative parent can turn that around to paint her as “ungrateful for our sacrifices” and use it as leverage to influence the perceptions of other family members or friends.
Finding a way to express yourself and say what you need to say is good and healthy, but sometimes that knowledge is best left in your head or in the confidence of a certified mental health counselor’s office where it won’t be used as a weapon against you.
Really take the time to analyze what you stand to gain by revealing your emotions, because there are plenty of people in the world who will only see that as a weakness to capitalize on and exploit.
Sometimes it’s better to stay silent so that toxic people can’t use your own weaknesses and vulnerabilities against you.
We would like to think Amy would be in a position where the people around her will care about and want to work toward a resolution surrounding those feelings if they are involved, but that isn’t always the case.
Some people are just mean and rude and don’t care how their actions affect others and see no reason to change their approach or point of view.
In summary, by all means use the exercises in this article to help you put your feelings into words. It’s then up to you whether you share this with others and, if you do, who you share it with.
Being able to understand and express your emotions is a valuable tool in identifying ways to deal with them (assuming they are troubling you in some way).
So create the perfect environment to examine your feelings, and use music and writing to hone in on the precise elements you wish to get clear in your mind. Then decide whether or not you wish to share your findings with the world and how to go about it.