How to Open Up When You’re Emotionally Stunted
When you’re used to not showing emotions, it can be hard to deal with when you actually have them.
I’m not talking about general excitement, happiness, sarcasm, or clear annoyance. No, I’m talking about real, deep emotions. Ones like love, empathy, longing, and disappointment in someone close to you.
These feelings already aren’t the easiest to talk about (in a healthy way, at least), but when you’re not used to having them at all –– it’s almost impossible.
I’ve always been someone who is articulate, opinionated, and thoughtful. However, I’m also very laid back, don’t hold grudges, and don’t deal with conflict often. Most things just don’t bother me; as long as everyone is having a good time and happy, so am I.
While to most, it may seem like I have a life devoid of anxiety, a life some may envy because they can’t seem to let things go – these qualities come with a fault.
You see, I actually have quite a bit of anxiety, but it manifests so deep within myself, even those I’ve known for decades wouldn’t be able to detect it in the slightest. My tough exterior has created an illusion of ease in my life.
As a human being, I do experience deep emotions – I’m not an anomaly. I’ve simply been stunted in expressing them because they are so few and far between. But when I do feel them, I feel them hard.
How can the laid back, go-with-the-flow person unbottle these feelings and communicate them without destroying their actuality as the person who rarely gets bothered?
I’m sure there are many out there that can relate. So, what do you do? How do you open yourself up when it seems so strange and out of character?
Press Edit on Your Internal Script:
While it may throw your friends and family off to see you express your inner self, they aren’t going to react they way you think they will. The replies I’ve pre-written under “partner” end up being more of improvised lines than the script I’ve mentally prepared.
Remember, the hardest part about getting feelings off your chest is starting the conversation. While it may be scary, and completely off book for yourself, you just have to rip off the bandaid. Then, you’ll see it wasn’t so frightening after all.
Change Your Tone:
When you’re not used to letting the floodgate open on your emotions, you try to imagine what it’ll sound like coming out of your mouth. Even if your feelings are serious and deep, you can still keep the conversation pretty light-hearted (depending on the situation).
Instead of putting out a super stern vibe, try approaching things as if it’s any regular conversation. When your tone is relaxed, you’re more calm, and in turn, your partner will feel the same.
Remember Your Strength:
The hardest part for me when trying to express some deep-rooted feelings is that I will look weak. That showing emotions is not for the strong-willed. What I’ve come to realize, though, is that the opposite is true. Being able to express and articulate how you feel, being vulnerable in the eyes of another, is the epitome of strength.
If you ever feel like you’ll be “less than” for speaking your truth, remember that those of passion are the ones who appear the most secure – the ones we often look up to most.
Practice, Practice, Practice:
The only way things get easier, and therefore, less awkward, is to keep on doing it. Don’t let things fester, or try to keep up the facade of being “easy-going” just to be less difficult.
Once you start speaking up, you’ll feel a weight lift off of you, and resentments will not only begin to clear, but will rarely present at all.
It’s not going to be easy – I still have issues with it to this day. Just keep reminding yourself that the stories we create in our heads – the outcomes we believe will happen – are always worse than reality.