A lot of us struggle to put words to our feelings— and a lot of us feel shame BECAUSE we have difficulty putting words to our feelings.
We tell ourselves we “should” be able to describe what we’re feeling.
After all, how hard can it be? We’re inside our own skin, right? Why should it be difficult to just report what’s going on inside us?
As it turns out, putting words to our feelings is hard for a few reasons.
Many of us simply weren’t taught that our feelings were important. We were trained to minimize our feelings— and consequently, we just didn’t get a lot of practice in describing them.
How many times have we been told, directly or indirectly, that our feelings just don’t matter?
Why WOULD we be good at identifying and communicating our feelings, when the message we received about them again and again was that they simply weren’t important?
Sometimes we’re not great at recognizing and describing our feelings because our feelings themselves are overwhelming or painful.
We’re not great at describing something when we’re busy just trying to SURVIVE that something— and many people reading this are busy just trying to keep functioning, DESPITE the fact that their feelings are regularly overwhelming.
Often, we’re not great at naming and describing our feelings because we’re actively in the process of denying and disowning them.
It’s hard to put words to something when you’re busy ducking and dodging and hiding and running away from that thing.
So many people reading this have such a conflicted relationship with their feelings.
People who struggle with depression, anxiety, trauma, or addiction tend to be highly sensitive people, who feel things more acutely than most…but we also tend to have a very complicated relationship with those big feelings we often feel.
The truth is, we’re unlikely to feel and function better unless we get on better terms with our own emotional life.
We need to be able to recognize what we’re feeling, and put words to those feelings.
We need to relate to our feelings with compassion and acceptance— because our feelings very often represent deeply vulnerable parts of ourselves.
We’re not going to feel and function better while denying and disowning deeply vulnerable parts of ourselves.
Managing our emotional lives may never be exactly easy for people like us.
Many of the people reading this have genetics and personal histories that make emotional management a really complicated task.
We CAN get better at it, though…but it takes some practice.
Practice, courage, and patience.
We need to be willing to look at our emotions without flinching— even if it makes us sad or angry.
We need to be willing to accept what we’re feeling— even if we don’t like it.
We need to be willing to get curious about how our thoughts and beliefs are impacting our emotions— even if we feel too exhausted and frustrated to be curious.
And we need to be willing to look at and sit with our feelings for long enough to put words to what we’re experiencing— because without words, it’s really difficult to understand OR change anything we’re experiencing.
The good news is, managing our emotions isn’t as overwhelming as it may seem.
It does take practice, and it does take some willingness to look at and sit with things we don’t like.
But as we get more experience with emotional management, we DO get better at it.
And as we get better at emotional management, the more in control we feel of our choices and our life.
Easy does it. Patience.