Talking About Feelings
Everyone has feelings. Some of us try to hide them, but they are always inside.
Talking about our own feelings:
• Use sentences that start with “I feel”
• Make observations: “The dirty laundry is on the floor.”
• Name your feelings, and be specific: “I feel frustrated when I see clothes on the floor.”
• Express your needs: “I have a need for the house to be tidy, and for everyone to help.”
• Make a request: “Would you be willing to pick up your clothes in the next 5 minutes?”
• Use sentences that start with “You make me feel” or “Because of you”
• Make judgments: “How did I raise such a messy child?”
• Make others responsible for your feelings: “It makes me so mad when you don’t pick up after yourself.”
• Repress your needs: “No one cares about what I want anyway.”
• Make a demand: “Pick up your clothes or no dinner for you tonight!”
When someone shares their feelings:
• Listen with attentiveness
• Be respectful
• Show support and compassion
• Acknowledge feelings with “oh” or “I see”
• With young children, give a name to the feeling to help them understand it
• Interrupt or tell our own story
• Give advice or try to “fix” the feelings
• Criticize or blame
• Deny or ignore feelings
• Label feelings as bad, or tell a child they should not feel them
Feelings are always changing. Sometimes we are sad. Other times we are happy. Usually, a sad feeling will be replaced by a happy feeling in time.
Our feelings – and other people’s feelings – are true for each of us in this moment. Even if we feel good, we can still accept that our friend or family member might not feel good at the same time. We cannot force ourselves or others to feel a certain way.
If sad feelings stick around too long, we can turn to someone we trust for support. This may be a family member, a friend, a faith leader, a counselor or a doctor.
Talking about feelings is good for our health. It feels good to talk about feeling good and being happy. It may not be so easy to talk about feeling sad, hurt, lonely or stressed, but talking about these feelings is the first step to feeling better.
When we try to hide our feelings or keep them inside, they don’t go away. They get stronger and stronger over time. They start to take control over our words and actions, even when we don’t want them to. By trying to ignore our feelings, we actually give them more power. They can even make us sick! It’s better to let them out by talking about them with people we trust.
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