We learn how we deal with feelings in childhood. Children learn how to understand, express, and manage their emotions from the surrounding adults, as well as from their peers and culture. By culture, I mean family emotional culture. Just like in an organization or group, a family's emotional culture is shaped by the beliefs, values, norms, and practices that govern how emotions are perceived, expressed, and managed within the family.
Factors that can also influence a family's emotional culture are parenting styles, family history, and the personalities of individual family members. For example, some families may have a culture that encourages open expression of emotions, while others may discourage it. Some families may have a culture that values independence, while others may value closeness.
Be Free (and Free Others, Too)
You may not realize it, but when you stifle your emotions, you are stifling your freedom. You should feel free to express yourself in every phase of life. As soon as you allow yourself to be comfortable with your true self and your true feelings, you open up the door for others to be comfortable with you, too.
Tear Down Your Fears
If you’re afraid of showing your emotions, stand up to them. It’s time to tell them that you’re not scared. Those feelings may be new and utterly foreign to you, but by confronting them, you’re tearing down the sense of fear.
Be Authentic to Yourself
The real “you” comes with all the feelings and emotions you’re experiencing. Be true to that and don’t let the feelings get in the way. You may feel like your true self is one that doesn’t come with baggage – that would be great, but no one is like that! We all come with goods and bads, and in order to honor the authentic “you,” you need to express your emotions openly and honestly.
Adds Flavor to Your Life
Believe it or not, being more honest and expressive can help you live life to the fullest more. It allows you to be you and to enjoy who you are more. If you’re stifling your feelings or being ashamed of them, you’re not living life to the fullest. Add flavor to your life by showing who you really are.
Get Closer to Others
Everyone feels emotions on different levels. No one knows precisely what you’re going through, but people can relate. When you open up to others, you get closer to them. You can bond over shared emotions, or you can ask them for advice on your situation. Either way, intimacy and friendship are always enhanced when you’re able to open up more.
The phrase "How are you?" has lost its significance as it has become a mere reflex in our daily conversations. If we take a moment to consider how often we ask this question, we may realize that it is no longer achieving its intended purpose. "How are you?" has the potential to open up meaningful discussions, providing an opportunity to delve deeper into someone's emotional state, and to express our own feelings. But all too often, people respond with an automatic "I'm good, how are you?" which results in a pointless exchange of wasted words. Rather than using this phrase as a mere formality, let's take the opportunity to truly connect with others and to gain a deeper understanding of each other's emotional state.
The next time someone says, “How are you?” think twice about your answer. Your reflex may be to say you’re good, but maybe if you tell them how you really are (exhausted, over-the-moon, nervous, excited, etc.), you’ll have a more in-depth conversation with them – and you’ll free yourself to be able to talk about how you really feel!
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