Growth | Written by: Katelyn Son

How to Express Your Feelings in Words

You know that feeling, when there's a word you can't think of, and it's just at the tip of your tongue. You start going through possible words and none of them sound quite right.

It slowly starts to drive you crazy as you wonder, "why can't I think of that word?" There might be a point where you start getting flustered and seek answers elsewhere since you can't quite think of it yourself. Sometimes you eventually figure it out and finally feel relieved, but other times it may nag at you if you can't.

Has this ever happened to you when you're trying to find the words to describe how you're feeling or what you're thinking? It can feel like the word is at the tip of your tongue, but nothing you say seems to make sense. No matter how hard you try, you can't quite get it right. Emotions can flare when you feel unable to express yourself and it might exacerbate the situation when you're already feeling charged.

It's already hard enough when you feel like no one understands you, and on top of that, you can't help anyone understand by putting it into words for them.

It's important to not only be able to process your emotions, but to also be able to name them—not just for yourself but also for the people around you. Being able to express your feeling into words will help you and your loved ones process your emotions and so they can take action and help.

Expressing your feelings can help you work through complex emotions and also enhance your relationships. By being more in-tune with your emotions, you can communicate distressing feelings like stress and anxiety. You can also share lighter feelings of love and excitement more effectively to others, and in turn, strengthen the communication in your relationships.

Emotions are complex and it will take time to successfully analyze your feelings so you can put them into words, and even then it may not always come easy—and that's OK.

There are a few exercises that will help you learn your emotions so you can start the process of putting them into words. Here are a few ways to get started:

1. Understand Your Emotional Hang-Up

According to Psych Central, there are several reasons why people can't seem to express their feelings into words. Many of these explanations are linked to fears and the complexities of the emotions we're feeling. Try to do a little soul-searching to define what your emotional hang-up is when it comes to expressing them.

Once you understand where this challenge stems from, you'll be able to actively work through it. This will assist you in overcoming any fears you may have when expressing your emotions and help you be more open to interpreting and communicating them.

2. Allow Yourself to Feel

Sometimes it's all too easy to just shove our emotions aside so we don't have to deal with them. You think you're doing yourself a favor, but you’re not—doing this actually only hurts you more.

Emotions need to be released in order to be resolved, so by ignoring them, you're only bottling them up and it may cause friction later.

Although it can be painful, take the time to explore the emotions you're feeling and examine why you may be feeling that way. Ask yourself what's going on that could be bothering you. When you allow yourself to feel, you become better in-touch with your emotions, which will help you express and resolve them.

3. Fill out a Worksheet

Emotions are complex, and it can be hard to pinpoint exactly how you're feeling, especially when you don't have the words.

To help you explore your emotions, there are a lot of worksheets you can download that will help you understand different ranges of emotions you might be experiencing. Worksheets not only help you pinpoint how you're feeling, but they can help you work through the problem too.  

4. Research

You might be surprised to learn that there are a lot of people who feel the way you do. It's easy to feel alone, but people go through the same struggles every day. By researching and reading articles related to these emotions, you can learn more about yourself, and even find some coping mechanisms to help you out.

When you can't quite find the words, chances are someone else has felt the same way you do and they might have a way to describe it.

5. Write About It

Putting your feelings into words is called affect labeling and it can help manage emotional experiences. Psychologists in a study from UCLA concluded that simply putting a pen to paper to express your mental emotions has numerous benefits for mental health.

The more you practice putting feelings into concrete terms, the easier time you will have processing and successfully dealing with them.

To practice affect labeling, try carrying a small journal around with you, and when you're feeling upset pull it out and jot down the first words and thoughts that come to mind. What you're writing doesn't have to be perfect—so don't worry about spelling or grammar. Just write how you're feeling in the moment and see what comes out.

6. Reflect

Once you start practicing a few ways to analyze and express your emotions, take the time to reflect on these feelings to learn more about why you might be upset. Look back on past journal entries, or pull out your old worksheets to identify some patterns in your emotions. By reflecting, you can identify emotional triggers and create some coping methods for yourself.

When you take the time to learn and become more self-aware, it's a lot easier to process your emotions by using the tools you've put into place for yourself.

Not only will you be able to process and express these feelings for yourself, but you'll also be able to successfully communicate with the others around you.

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