What are you thinking?
How are you feeling?
Do these questions sound familiar? I’ve asked these questions hundreds of times and sometimes I’ve also been asked the same thing.
What happens when you ask these questions to someone who isn’t much of a talker? That’s right, you get a grunt, a sneer or maybe a glance if you’re lucky.
It can be particularly difficult for men to communicate their thoughts and feelings. How do I know this? Well, I know historically my communication skills have been less than stellar sometimes when I’m feeling particularly off. This was the case for me at work, at home, with family and friends, I would grunt like a neanderthal or look away and mumble a response only to indicate that I’m still alive.
It was only until recently that I learned about my crippled skills. I had no idea what it meant to take ownership of your feelings or to not allow others to control how you feel. I mean, what does that even look like?
When I began to realize how keeping my feelings inside was hurting me more in the long run than it was hurting anyone else, I aggressively learned more about what feelings really are.
My feelings are real and owning them means that no one else can tell me otherwise. I used to be told by my parents that I’m overly sensitive or I’m too emotional. Those can be harmful words to a child because it can stunt their development of their feelings. It puts a roadblock that something’s wrong whenever feelings arise and denying them is the solution.
Instead, a more conducive way is to allow a safe space for those feelings to emerge using more descriptive words of expression.
When people live with the pain of depression, anxiety and anger, it’s even more critical to become more self-aware of the ups and downs of the powerful emotions and re-channel them through expressive words. This is especially true for men who struggle at home communicating their wounds to their wives and kids. Men who are unable to recognize the reasons behind their struggles, need to take a deeper dive and explore what could be triggering some of their unwanted feelings. And for men who don’t venture into their past, may end up falling deep into an abyss of their depression and anxiety. If improperly managed, it can lead to anger problems and in many cases emotional, verbal and physical abuse on others.
Understanding and creating healthier forms of communication can help boost your relationships and your mental health. You can learn more here on how you can do that.
A common mistake people make when it comes to communicating is that they’re not really paying attention to the other person. We get so caught up in the argument that we begin deflecting and blaming the other person. If there’s an Olympic medal for deflection, I would have gotten Gold for Team Canada.
But the answers to many of our problems lies within our self-esteem. With a healthy self-esteem, we’re not afraid to lean into our feelings and communicate them. With a healthy self-esteem we can uphold our boundaries. With a healthy self-esteem, we don’t need to deflect an argument because we’re comfortable enough with ourselves being wrong sometimes.
My newest workshop on Udemy, 8 Powerplays for Healthier Communication addresses all this and more. My goal is to share the skills that I learned to anyone who wants to improve their mental health through expression.
Thus, the next time someone asks you:
What are you thinking? How are you feeling? or What’s wrong?
You might precisely be able to tell them exactly what’s on your mind.