Jars Are For Pickles, Not Feelings

pickle jarI commonly hear from clients that they can't express what they feel because the people in their lives don't understand what they are going through. When you're going through a challenging time you may feel like no one understands your situation. Yes, you are the only one who truly understands the feelings you hold about what is happening in your life. But sometimes when you feel this way, you may begin to close off from others. You may even minimize what you share about yourself and how you feel. Perhaps, you have found holding back your thoughts and feelings to be a useful coping strategy, but really it's an ineffective one.

Suppressing your feelings has its consequences, and can show through behavioural and physiological symptoms such as: irritability, anxiety, headaches, body aches, and even nausea. Imagine your feelings in a jar. Putting anger, sadness, and resent in there will work for a while, but the jar can only fill so much before it overflows. Often, overflow of feelings are fuelled by unresolved situations, and it's common to have a burst of emotions which come out in multiple ways. So how do you start expressing yourself when you've become so good at keeping things bottled up?

1. Understand Your Problems
It is important to understand what our problems are before we can expect others to understand the feelings that surround those problems. You have to know what you are upset about, and what led you to get upset, before you can expect another person to understand what you are going through

2. Identify Supportive and Safe People
Sharing your feelings can be scary. Share with those who make you feel loved, secure, and respected.

3. Be Ready to Communicate
When you understand what is upsetting you, you need to vocalize this. Be ready to share your feelings and thoughts. Share what you are most comfortable with and go from there.

4. Focus On Your Feelings
Feelings are never right or wrong, they are happening within you. When expressing how you feel, it is important you state the true feelings you have about a situation. You may be experiencing multiple things at the same time, and that's okay.

5. Only State What Is Relevant Right Now
It is easy to back track and start bringing up situations from the past. The truth is, the past is in the past. Yes, past situations may bring you hurt and pain, but you need to learn to only address present situations. Too many built up issues brought up at the same time will only make the other person feel attacked

6. Understand That It Takes Time
Letting others know how you feel is going to take time. You have to feel comfortable expressing yourself, but remember every time you reach out is a step in the right direction

7. Find Ways To De-Stress
When you stuff feelings down, you may begin to experience stress because you are carrying a lot of weight on your shoulders. It is important to find ways to manage your stress.