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The Advantages of Expressing Feelings

Updated February 21, 2017

The truism "honesty is the best policy" is often recommended as the best way of dealing with interpersonal relationships. Dishonesty usually fosters mistrust and uncertainty in any relationship, regardless of whether the dishonesty is discovered. Expressing yourself clearly and dispassionately will help develop and maintain healthy relationships both professionally and personally.

Increased Self-Awareness

Articulating your emotions is one way of clarifying them. Humans are creatures of language, and when the power of speech is used to put feelings into words, often your listener will understand your feelings better. Hearing the words spoken helps reinforce what is being felt. Sharing feelings with others helps a person to become more self-aware. Usually the listener will assist in this process by reframing and repeating what was said as the speaker reflects upon the words and emotions that were expressed.

Improved Relationships

When feelings are shared, both communicators are likely to feel an increased closeness as a result. The listener might be flattered that she was chosen to be the recipient of this information and might volunteer some of her own feelings as a gesture of reciprocity. Conversely, when a relationship is based merely on superficial dialogue and feelings are never shared, a lack of camaraderie is evident, and the relationship will be lacking in depth. Emotions are personal and usually kept confidential. When shared with someone trustworthy, the trust between parties increases.

Greater Emotional Well-Being

The old expression, "unspoken feelings never die" is true. Harbouring a grudge without ever informing the other party of how you feel they wronged you can increase resentment. The expression "clearing the air" does exactly that. Once the feelings have been expressed, the person divulging his emotions feels a sense of relief and peace of mind. However, these feelings must be expressed in a non-aggressive manner or the effect might be a negative rather than positive one. Another expression, "getting it off your chest" alludes to the suffocating, oppressive, negative feeling of bottled up emotions. Expressing these emotions appropriately can be cathartic. If the person carrying these emotions does not have a trusted friend, a professional therapist will serve the purpose.

Physiological Benefits

You might experience a mind-body connection (Reference 3). Stress caused by upsetting events in life as well as pent-up feelings could lead to ulcers, sleeplessness, and headaches or lower the immune system's resistance to infection. As a result, the threat of colds, the flu or even more serious health complications increase. Doctors often recommend exercise as a healthy stress reducer because exercise releases endorphins in the brain which lead to a greater sense of well-being. A Psychology Today website quoted Nathaniel Thom, a stress physiologist, in a New York Times Sunday Magazine article titled "Phys Ed - Can Exercise Moderate Anger?" stating that that exercise reduces anger. Exercise can therefore allow you to express your feelings without anger, which will likely lead to a calming effect on your life.

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About the Author

Freddie Silver started writing newsletters for the Toronto District School Board in 1997. Her areas of expertise include staff management and professional development. She holds a master's degree in psychology from the University of Toronto and is currently pursuing her PhD at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, focusing on emotions and professional relationships.