The importance of communication, of talking about how we feel. Here are my five reasons why we don't and five reasons why we should. As recently departed Bob Hoskins said: "Its good to talk"...
1. A NATIONAL NO NO - talking about our feelings is not something that has been promoted in this country. It always seems a bit 'American', a bit earnest and actually quite uncomfortable. Our British DNA is 'go abroad, massacre them, say nothing and hold on to post colonial guilt'
2. NOT ALLOWED - talking about feelings is not encouraged from a young age. Pia Melody-a formative writer and lecturer on basically every issue- often discusses how children can be led to not express themselves because their feelings are uncomfortable for the parent. Therefore as a child we can feel shameful for having feelings and then more shameful if we express them.
3. GENDER STEREOTYPING Talking about feelings is not promoted in socio- gender based boundaries on how men and women act. The man stereo typically is the bread winner, he is staunch, immovable and emotionless. To show feelings is to show weakness and show weakness is to suggest a lack of strength and ability to protect. For women , they are meant to deal beautifully with all issues and occasions, run a family, look after their husband keep everything together under a manicured smile without breaking a sweat. To feel would be to cause trouble, create a disturbance and become troublesome and again show weakness. Incidentally these stereotypes are bred from years gone by yet it is important to be mindful of how deep these rivers can run.
4. JUDGEMENT AND REJECTION Talking about feelings runs the risk of ridicule and rejection. The idea of finally plucking up the courage to talk to someone about what is emotionally going on lays ourselves open and bare to others opinions and in worst case scenario judgment and rejection. What is more excruciating than chastising oneself for harboring feelings that aren't seen as healthy? To share these feelings and be judged and rejected by a family member or partner of friend. Who would risk that?
5. PANDORA'S BOX And finally the risk of talking about our feelings is that we open a Pandora's box that can never be shut. It is easier to carry on, burying feelings through over working, addictions, behavioural systems etc... than face the thing and risk the floodgates open. Fear of the unknown stops us in our tracks.
The benefits to talking about our feelings:
1. A PROBLEM SHARED IS A PROBLEM HALVED. This old statement is 100% true. Simply by speaking about a feeling, giving it a voice and allowing someone to hear you is extremely powerful and healing. It can take the energy out of something that is possibly overwhelming
2. CONNECTION by sharing a feeling we allow ourselves to become more connected to each other. We realise that we are not the only people who feel certain ways and we can create very strong bonds and even closer relationships. We stop judging ourselves and we feel more empathy in turn for ourselves AND others.
3. ALL FEELINGS ARE EQUAL feelings are all on the same level. Feel sad is on the same level as feeling happy, feeling angry is on the same level and feeling love. The difference is how we judge them. All feelings are natural and the more we talk about them we realize that this is the case. We don't need to assign certain positive or negative attributes to any. By talking we see this.
4. DEFLATES SHAME by talking about our feelings we release the shame that can be attached with feeling certain ways and show ourselves as vulnerable. By truly being 'seen and heard' by someone we see that we can be vulnerable and actually this is a huge strength. Along with forgiveness I see vulnerability as of enormous power. To be vulnerable is to open our selves up to the power of possibility. Feel the fear and do it. by talking we can achieve this
5. NOTHING COMPARES TO YOU - Talking about feelings is essential to living a whole, honest, connecting and grounded happy life. We need to make sure we talk to the right person, a person who can truly listen without proffering advice before we even finish or panic about us feeling anything other than happy. It needs to be contained and done at an appropriate time. To fully communicate with people we know and trust and love allows us to be fully open as a person. Open to hear others, to empathise and truly to live in the human condition which is to be vulnerable. To be vulnerable through communicating is the most beautiful thing. It makes me think of Sinead O'Connor singing Nothing Compares to You. No one judged her for such open honesty.