As humans, it’s only natural that we feel emotions. Anger, sadness, joy, fear — you name it, we feel it. What’s important to remember is that it is perfectly okay to feel whatever emotion you’re feeling, but it’s just as important to convey those emotions to your loved ones in the most effective way possible. In this blog, I’m going to be sharing tips for how to express your emotions and feelings in a healthy and productive way. Just like in my last blog where I talked about how to be an empathetic listener, most of these tips I got from doing pre-marital therapy and the financial literacy courses. As mentioned previously, some of these practices are based on research done by Bernard Guerney, a marriage and couples therapist with over 30 years of experience.
1. Be subjective, not objective. When you say things objectively, you’re stating things as fact. When you say things subjectively, you are presenting your feelings. To help you state your feelings subjectively, always start out with saying, “I feel…” or “I think…” No one can refute your feelings, but if you state them as facts, it can lead to a bigger argument. This brings me to my next tip!
2. Don’t attack or accuse. Instead of saying, “You made me feel bad when you said X,” say, “I felt hurt when you said X.” The two sentences sound a bit similar at first, but when you think about it, those are two different statements. The first is a direct accusation while the second is a subjective sentence. Keep this in mind because it can save you a lot of trouble if you start out with this!
3. Be clear, and be specific. Go a little bit deeper than, “I felt hurt when you said X.” Try asking yourself why you feel this way, and relay this information to the person you’re speaking to. “I felt hurt when you said X because it made me think that you didn’t care about what I had to say.” The second statement is much more specific than the first, and it gives the listener a better understanding of why you felt hurt and the part they might have played in it.
You still following me? Yes? Okay, good. Last one!
4. Acknowledge both the good and the bad. So, you’re saying that you felt hurt when the person did X — let’s just say X means that they yelled at you. Don’t just point out the fact that he/she yelled at you! Follow it up with some positivity as well. For example, you can say, “I felt hurt when you yelled at me because it made me think that you didn’t care about what I had to say. I know that you usually are a great listener and you always respect my thoughts and feelings, but I felt that this time you didn’t care about what I was sharing with you.” It seems like a lot, but constant negativity can weigh a person down. Be sure to recognize and acknowledge the good that the person usually does so that they don’t feel like you’re coming at them with a lot of negative emotions. It will show the person that you have been paying attention to the positive things too, not solely pointing out the negative.
I promise you that this approach is very helpful. It may feel a bit unnatural to think about what you’re saying first, but that’s ultimately the goal! We need to be respectful with what we say to others, and more importantly, how we say it.
“More information is always better than less. When people know the reason things are happening, even if it’s bad news, they can adjust their expectations and react accordingly. Keeping people in the dark only serves to stir negative emotions.” — Simon Sinek