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10 Reasons You Can’t Say How You Feel

10 Reasons You Can’t Say How You Feel | Psych Central

Not everyone finds expressing their feelings easy or having it come naturally. While the stereotype is that men have the hardest time expressing their emotions, everyone at one time or another in their life may find it difficult to say how they feel.
Learning why you have trouble expressing your feelings can go a long way into changing that behavior. Saying how you feel is something you can learn how to do, just as readily as you can learn how to fix a faucet or mend a button on a shirt. Here are ten common reasons why people find it difficult to express their emotions to someone else.


1. Conflict Phobia
You are afraid of angry feelings or conflicts with people. You may believe that people with good relationships should not engage in verbal “fights” or intense arguments. In addition, you may believe that disclosing your thoughts and feelings to those you care about would result in their rejection of you. This is sometimes referred to as the “ostrich phenomenon” — burying your head in the sand instead of addressing relationship problems.


2. Emotional Perfectionism
You believe that you should not have feelings such as anger, jealousy, depression, or anxiety. You think you should always be rational and in control of your emotions. You are afraid of being exposed as weak and vulnerable. You believe that people will belittle or reject you if they know how you really feel.


3. Fear of Disapproval and Rejection
You are so terrified by rejection and ending up alone that you would rather swallow your feelings and put up with some abuse than take the chance of making anyone mad at you. You feel an excessive need to please people and to meet what you perceive to be their expectations. You are afraid that people would not like you if you expressed your thoughts and feelings.


4. Passive-Aggressive Behavior
You pout and hold your hurt or angry feelings inside instead of disclosing what you feel. You give others the silent treatment, which is inappropriate, and a common strategy to elicit feelings of guilt (on their part).


5. Hopelessness
You are convinced that your relationship cannot improve no matter what you do. You may feel that you have already tried everything and nothing works. You may believe that your spouse (or partner) is just too stubborn and insensitive to be able to change. These positions represent a self-fulfilling prophecy–once you give up, an established position of hopelessness supports your predicted outcome.


6. Low Self-Esteem
You believe that you are not entitled to express your feelings or to ask others for what you want. You think you should always please other people and meet their expectations.


7. Spontaneity
You believe that you have the right to say what you think and feel when you are upset. (Generally, feelings are best expressed during a calm and structured or semi-structured exchange.) Structuring your communication does not result in a perception that you are “faking” or attempting to inappropriately manipulate others.


8. Mind Reading
You believe that others should know how you feel and what you need (although you have not disclosed what you need). The position that individuals close to you can “divine” what you need provides an excuse to engage in non-disclosure, and thereafter, to feel resentful because people do not appear to care about your needs.


9. Martyrdom
You are afraid to admit that you are angry, hurt, or resentful because you do not want to give anyone the satisfaction of knowing that her or his behavior is unacceptable. Taking pride in controlling your emotions and experiencing hurt or resentment does not support clear and functional communication.


10. Need to Solve Problems
When you have a conflict with an individual (i.e., your needs are not being met), avoiding the associated issues is not a functional solution. Disclosing your feelings and being willing to listen without judgment to the other is constructive.


Reference:
Burns, D.D. (1989). The feeling good handbook. New York: William Morrow.

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I am guilty of numbers 2, 4 and 8.
 

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Where is the "You can't be arsed to care about your feelings, much less disclose them to the people around you" option?
 

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Where is the "You can't be arsed to care about your feelings, much less disclose them to the people around you" option?
That would be "Don't", not "Can't". :tongue:
 

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1. Conflict Phobia


2. Emotional Perfectionism


3. Fear of Disapproval and Rejection


5. Hopelessness


6. Low Self-Esteem


7. Spontaneity
I try to be open about my feelings, but often in a #7 kind of way. If I am ever not open about negative feelings, it is because of 1, 2, 3, 5, or 6. However, even when I am able to avoid expressing them at the time when I am feeling them, as in situations where my survival instinct overrides them, or one of the listed reasons is a serious concern, I end up having to express them some other way. Expression is necessary in order for me to feel okay again. It is best, whenever possible, to express them to the person or people who caused them, in order to set boundaries so I can feel safe from having to be placed in the same situations where I will experience them repeatedly. Just journaling isn't enough, because it is no different from feeling silently in my own head without communicating anything. I need to talk to someone, cry on a shoulder, or explain the details until I work through it with another real person.

Happy feelings are different. I only hide them when I feel they will be misinterpreted. I can't say "I love you" every time I feel it without worrying that others will interpret it as having romantic overtones. I can't compliment others as much as I want to without being considered a suck-up. I can't expose how much I like people without seeming clingy, needy, crazy, or creepy. It is slightly easier to bottle up positive emotions because they don't feel toxic when they build up inside of me. Even so, I do feel like it is hard not to express them. I usually eventually tell people exactly how I feel.
 

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I think #6 is my main reason why I don't share my feelings, minus the part about serving others.
 

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Where is the "I don't share because a) it is none of peoples business b) they can't help me anyways, because I have to fix it myself and c) the less people know, the better" option?
 

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Wow, I'm very much #2 Emotional Perfectionism.

Also, other people shouldn't have to hear about my problems and pessimism when I have the power to fix it myself; where's that option? :p
 

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#11 hemingwayism: you must not express your feelings because that will make them real.

Sometimes I worry - in a visceral, non-cognitive way, right in my gut - what people think about me. A lot. But I never admitted it to myself because then that would be a part of who I am. And, well, "that's just not me".

I can be honest about it now.
 

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well, then. Excuse me for having boner feels that run deep and hard, failing to be comprehended by the mere mortal's reptilian prefrontal cortex.
 

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#2 is the only one that comes close for me.

However, the main reason for me isn't listed. Most the time I won't share my emotions with others because I don't want to burden them. It's my problem. Why should they get involved?
 

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I'm guilty of 3, 8 and sometimes also 1 and 2.
The 8 is my "favorite" :frustrating:!
 

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5. Hopelessness
You are convinced that your relationship cannot improve no matter what you do. You may feel that you have already tried everything and nothing works. You may believe that your spouse (or partner) is just too stubborn and insensitive to be able to change. These positions represent a self-fulfilling prophecy–once you give up, an established position of hopelessness supports your predicted outcome.
I'm mostly there and conflict avoidance. I avoid conflict but I don't walk away from it!.

Guy here, grew up surrounded by women and it's painful at my age that many times they can say "idiot" because someone did something idiotic but I can't because they gave me the "you are an animal" treatment. Many, countless times I've been in conflict because a woman did something wrong that hurt me or was just plain wrong, imagine a wrong gift, wrong words in public towards me, aggressive behavior or just taking too much of my time...

and any defense is taken in the context of "you hurt me"
and the public also does this "you just hurt her"

So, many times I just avoid explanations and walk away. I used to write things on paper and when we had a discussion I could anticipate their (wrong) accusations, sure they said "sorry" but it was meaningless to me. Most of times dealing with this kind of things in my social context (country if you like) ends up with "stop, I fee bad, you just hurt me" I hate it.
 

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#11: Words just can't sufficiently describe how I feel

#12: Nobody will understand

But I have strong feelings on these two (seem connected) so I'll do a pseudo-rant:

1. Conflict Phobia
You are afraid of angry feelings or conflicts with people. You may believe that people with good relationships should not engage in verbal “fights” or intense arguments. In addition, you may believe that disclosing your thoughts and feelings to those you care about would result in their rejection of you. This is sometimes referred to as the “ostrich phenomenon” — burying your head in the sand instead of addressing relationship problems.

3. Fear of Disapproval and Rejection

You are so terrified by rejection and ending up alone that you would rather swallow your feelings and put up with some abuse than take the chance of making anyone mad at you. You feel an excessive need to please people and to meet what you perceive to be their expectations. You are afraid that people would not like you if you expressed your thoughts and feelings.
This is why depression, social anxiety and just plain fear are becoming endemics in this day and age.

People would rather just keep "being busy" or "ignoring their feelings" so it snowballs until they start realizing they have a real problem.

Maybe if fucking society slowed down for a bit and stopped trying to keep plugging at those numbers, machines and paycheques we'd have more happy people and less ticking time bombs.
 
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