Learning how to express your feelings comes as naturally as breathing to some people, and for others, it can be an uphill struggle. If you tend to be emotionally distant and find it tough to let people in, this can be something that takes time to work on.
No matter how hard it feels, know that expressing how you feel is essential for so many reasons:
- Being able to share the burden of stresses and anxieties.
- Forming a close bond with a partner or friend.
- Feeling relaxed and free to say how you feel.
- Letting your loved ones in on your emotions.
Let’s explore ways to learn how to express your feelings comes to be and why it can be a challenging task for an emotionally distant person.
Emotional Distance – What It Means to Relationships
Being distant is the opposite of closeness, which is vital for a strong, healthy relationship.
Yet, feeling insecure about explaining your emotions is relatively common and a trait exacerbated by modern communications, which tend towards screen time and hashtags rather than intimate conversation.
People are distant for any number of reasons, such as:
- Lack of trust or feeling secure.
- Anxiety about the stability of relationships.
- Bad experiences from the past.
- Feeling vulnerable about being open.
Unpacking why you experience resistance to expressing your feelings is the first step in working through ways to shake off the shackles of anxiety and develop strategies to say what you feel with confidence.
If you are unable to express your feelings, it is almost impossible to enjoy a relationship fully. One partner will always feel that their commitment is not being returned, or that an emotionally distant partner has one foot out of the door – even if the opposite is true.
Learning How to Express Your Feelings
Here are some techniques and tools you can use to learn how to express your feelings without anxiety or stress.
Bear in mind that emotional distance is usually a defense mechanism, and something that has been built up over time, so it may be necessary to work slowly through breaking this down.
1. Listen to physical stress signals
If being open and honest causes you anxiety, you will likely feel this physically and emotionally. Your heart rate increases, your palms might sweat, or you might feel shaky.
When this happens, try deep breathing and techniques such as counting things you can hear, see, and smell. Breaking the cycle of stress will help your body to understand that expressing yourself is not, in fact, an experience that should stimulate fear.
2. Take your time
In situations of anxiousness, it is normal to feel pressured or rushed – and if you need space to say what you think, then it is essential to take this time to process your thoughts.
Most situations do not demand an immediate response, so if you need to think over what you feel and put those feelings into words, then it is worth allowing yourself alone time to feel more confident in expressing yourself.
3. Be honest
When a relationship is worth working on yourself for, it also deserves honesty. If you tell your partner or friend that you experience anxiety or vulnerability when talking about your feelings, they will understand why you are sometimes less open than they are.
Remember that everybody has different personalities. If this is part of your identity, having somebody on your side as you try to become more open will help you along the way.
4. Say what you think – and not what they want to hear
It is easy to say what you think somebody needs to hear from you, particularly if it is a personal challenge to share your thoughts. However, in the long-term, this can cause damage to your relationships, so permit yourself to express your feelings, whatever they might be.
Starting the journey to freedom of expression can significantly change the way you interact with other people. Beginning from an empowered position will ensure this brings continued positivity to your relationships.
5. Try to identify why
Emotions can be powerful but often relate to our personal perception of a situation more than the reality somebody else might be experiencing. For example, you might feel angry with somebody who doesn’t realize they have offended you.
When you feel strongly about something but do not feel comfortable explaining this, then taking a step back from the situation can be a valuable way to look into why you think this way – and taking a deep breath before you pluck up the courage to talk about it.
6. Relate feelings to yourself
A common trait is to make our feelings somehow combative, rather than what we are experiencing in ourselves at that moment. Having had adverse reactions in the past is often one of the reasons why we might feel emotionally distant.
Rather than saying, ‘you make me feel‘, think through what you are feeling, and try to explain this from your perspective. For example, ‘I feel like…’
Phrasing your feelings in this way makes it easier to discuss your thoughts, and more comfortable for our loved ones to process what you would like to share with them.
We all have feelings, and we all have different ways of expressing ourselves. If you are an emotionally distant person, learning how to express your feelings can be a tough challenge to overcome. So take your time – and always remember to be gentle with yourself.
Copyright © 2012-2023 Learning Mind. All rights reserved. For permission to reprint, contact us.