Having difficulty showing or sharing your true feelings?  

Being in relationship can highlight that you, your partner, friend, colleague or relation finds it difficult to share their feelings especially the emotions associated with tenderness and vulnerability.

Why is that significant? Because if we don’t feel what we feel then we can’t share our feelings with others and that gets in the way of intimacy, closeness and connection.

At the beginning of a relationship this can first be seen as a positive attribute being seen as someone not at the whim of illogical emotions. Coming  across as dependable and steadfast when times are difficult and able to carry on calmly in a crisis rather than crumbling in the face of fear, uncertainty and doubt.

True in a crisis these are the attributes that you do want in a person. The person who is resolute and continues in the face of adversity. But do you really want this distance in day to day life when there is no emergency.

Be Strong and Don’t Show Your Feelings

In Transactional Analysis this is known as the ‘Be Strong’ driver. When it comes to feelings the individual is driven to suppress these and hold them down so there is no great show of emotion.

There are benefits. An aura of calm doesn’t alarm others, it doesn’t draw attention and it avoids interacting with others in an openly emotional way. It keeps emotional distance and dependancy away from self.

This has often been learnt when growing up so at to avoid the disappointment of unmet needs or criticism from care givers. Hey! “I don’t don’t need love, approval or support, I can do this on my own”, (because I can’t depend on others when I’m in need – its too painful).

A care giver may not have been be able to manage the childs emotions as it impacted on their own ability to cope emotionally in a difficult situation or they were bought up themselves not to show feelings openly.

Protecting and Defending Yourself

The child learns to build a protective barrier between every day thinking, awareness and painful feelings. This acts as armour to defend their vulnerable, raw and painful feelings.

In later life when an individual is pushed to reveal their feelings this can result in irritability, anger or frustration. This is yet another last ditch defence to avoid exposing the painful unresolved emotions that lie underneath and threaten the individuals perceived well being.

Diagram of protected feelings

What You Can Do Instead

First make a decision you are going are going to experience and share your true feelings to yourself and others. State to yourself it’s OK to do that and to be yourself and have feelings.

Next is to look out for and recognise when your inner state has changed. There will be a change to your equilibrium and you won’t feel right. That is when you initially react by withdrawing from others or attacking them.

The first thing you can do is slow down and stop for a few seconds. Allow the initial reactive feelings to quieten down. Stop talking and over thinking about what is happening.

Then bring your awareness to your inner state including your somatic of body feelings. Recognise, label and acknowledge that feeling. Importantly don’t criticise yourself for feelings that you do recognise or equally if you can’t work out what you are feeling at first.

Slow Down and Take Your Time

Give yourself time to recognise the feeling, identify if you can that feeling such as anger, sadness, disgust, confusion etc.

Acknowledge by saying to yourself “I’m feeling angry and It’s OK for me to feel angry and It’s OK for me to share my feelings of anger”

Practice this and over time you will be able to recognise and identify the emotion.

It will take time and gentle patience to contact your feelings. If it feels overwhelming or you keep having difficulty expressing and sharing those emotions is an appropriate way then its problably a good idea to consider working with a therapist.

You can contact me at New Direction Solutions in Southampton if you want to arrange counselling to help with feeling and expressing your emotions.

Check out other counselling and coaching articles and wellbeing blogs  on my website.