The list of feelings a person can experience is endless. We can feel happy, sad, concerned, confused, anxious, angry, joyful, ecstatic, pleased, relieved, betrayed, lonely… I could go on forever. Some of those feelings are easier to express than others. I have no trouble expressing feelings of joy and relief but find it much harder to express my feelings when I am sad or concerned.
We don’t just express our feelings in a verbal way either. Sometimes the way we feel can come through in our body language and the actions that we take. If someone is with you and they have their head in their hands they might be frustrated or sad. If someone is talking to you with a smile on their face and keeping eye contact, they may be feeling happy or interested in what you are saying. I think things get confused when there is no communication of that feeling. It is in cases like this that feelings can be misread or suppressed.
I definitely wear my heart on my sleeve. It is fairly obvious to those around me if I am feeling really positive or if I am having a down day. Even if I am not feeling great I will often say “I’m fine” to avoid expressing the way I really feel. I think the reason I do this is because the idea of making my feelings known makes me vulnerable. It is a true expression of deeper emotion. I sometimes imagine what would happen if I never expressed any feelings at all. I would probably never stand up for myself, my family wouldn’t understand my actions, my friends would feel disengaged and I would never have had the courage to tell my now boyfriend how I felt about him.
I am going to use a light example to start. Bruno and I met at the start of 2015. I kind of had a feeling straight away that I liked him. We got along really well, we had so many similar interests, I found him absolutely hilarious and he was the most genuine and kind person I had ever met. We stayed really good friends for two years. Always talking when we went out and having the odd catch up (and shopping spree) at La Manna. At the start of 2017 I knew that I really liked him but didn’t quite know how to express that. I was trying to play off his vibe but couldn’t get anything. I honestly thought he wasn’t interested in me at all. I kind of moved on from there, saw another person and knew in my heart that it just wasn’t right. I saw Bruno a couple of months after that, just before he went to Europe for a holiday. I dropped him home that night and thought “when he gets back from Europe I have to say something.”
When he returned I organised a group gelati date with all our friends (really so I could see him). We started talking and messaging after that. We went for walks around the local river and talked for hours about everything (except for the way we both felt). It took until one Saturday after go karting for something to be said. Bruno was getting in his car to leave but before he started the car he got out and said “I have to put something out there. I don’t want to ruin the friendship we have. Take it or leave it but I really like you.” It was in that moment that I said “I like you too.” So simple, but something I had been holding onto for what felt like a lifetime.
Since the moment we expressed the way we felt for each other the closer we have been able to get. Sure one of us definitely could have been hurt if the other didn’t feel the same way, but it was definitely worth that risk.
That example was a positive expression of emotion. It is equally as important is to share feelings that are a bit darker, that make us more vulnerable. It is through that vulnerability that we are able to become closer and connect with others. It allows others to see our different colours. No one possesses just one emotion. It is the collection of emotions that we have that makes us unique and special. I am guilty of not always sharing the way I feel and being afraid to actually verbalise the way I feel about something. I worry that others won’t understand or that my feelings won’t be taken seriously.
In my life experience so far I have found that the longer I suppress my feelings the stronger they get. When they get really strong it can be hard to not let them engulf you and consume your life. It becomes all you think about. You start to change your body language. You change the way you act. It creates distance. It creates confusion. It creates issues within relationships.
I have always said that I am very inspired by my parent’s marriage. They are best friends. They laugh together, cry together, support each other, are honest with each other and are always open about the way they feel. I love when I see them happy together, however, have learnt valuable lessons when they have disagreed with each other. Watching them discuss their differences has taught me the importance of compromising, listening with an open heart and forgiveness. I have seen the closeness between them increase through their challenges and the way that their relationship continues to strengthen.
It is a true expression of love to be able to share even the most uncomfortable feelings. Last week was definitely not the best for my sister. I could see that she was in her head a lot. She was tired and emotional. I asked her many times if she was alright but she brushed it off saying that she was “fine.” I watched her push through her week getting more and more consumed with her emotions. Then she exploded in a pool of tears in my arms. It was incredibly powerful. She shared everything she had been thinking and feeling. I didn’t ask questions, I just let her speak. We worked together to reach some attainable solutions. I could tell that she felt vulnerable in those moments. She didn’t want others to see her being unable to hold it all together. As she expressed her feelings to me I felt so much closer to her. Everything I had observed in the week leading up made so much sense. I have seen that after this all happened that she is so much more comfortable sharing her emotions with me. In return I have been able to share so much more with her.
Sometimes it takes seeing others being open and honest to draw that out of you. For me, seeing my sister gave me the confidence I needed to express my feelings. I was confronted with a situation this week when I really needed to share how I felt. I didn’t want to. I just wanted to pass it off as something I didn’t care about. I knew that this wasn’t going to do me any favours in the future. I knew that the discomfort that comes with being open and honest was only going to be temporary. It amazed me how much closeness could come from just being honest and sharing the way I felt.
You are entitled to feel the way that you do. I believe that we feel the emotions we do for a reason. It gives us the motivation to change things if we aren’t happy and to open the lines of communication. So much can be gained from just having a simple conversation or discussion about something. It doesn’t necessarily have to end in some agreement. The feelings just need to be out there so that they can be acknowledged and recognised as important and valued. It is an incredible feeling to know that our feelings are being heard, taken seriously and that they are not being passed off as something fleeting or unimportant.
The more we share the more there is to be gained. We can’t ignore our feelings. If we do, we may miss out on incredible adventures, new experiences or may never have the strength to walk away from the things that do not serve us. Having feelings is nothing to be ashamed of, we all have them. The power is in letting them be known.