We often talk about what we think or believe in, what our attitude is towards various causes… But how common is it for us to talk about our emotions, the way we feel, and what could be the possible implications of our own emotional understanding? The importance of the role played by emotions is not hidden from any of us. And more important than the role played by them is the need for us to be able to identify, express as well as regulate these emotions effectively in our day to day lives.
Encouraging Emotional Expressiveness
Given the technological invasion in society, it is common for us to rely more on the use of emoticons to express ourselves via various forms of social networking sites or social media platforms. However, it is essential for us to be comfortable in not just talking about our own emotions, but also being able to hear out another person venting his or her own emotions as well.
1. Build on your emotional awareness. It is important to for us to have an openness in talking about our emotions, for which it is sometimes necessary to even build on our emotional vocabulary. We need to explore our own emotional awareness and be willing to initiate a discussion about the same with others as well. We ourselves need to talk about emotional awareness, and further demonstrate alternative ways of expressing one’s emotions.
2. Suppressed emotions could be manifested in externalizing behaviours. If a person tends to suppress one’s emotions and feelings within himself or herself, it is likely to lead to an externalization of these same emotions in other indirect expressions, which could be in the form of increase in somatic or physical complaints, crying spells, temper tantrums for children or increased irritability in adults.
3. Offer outlets to vent emotions. While human communication can take many forms, words tend to dominate most of the communication in our society. However, human experiences cannot always be entirely reduced to words, as some experiences and emotional states are beyond words. Expressing one’s feelings, especially for children, who are unable to verbalize their emotions, is much easier through an alternate medium, in the form of art, play, dance, movement, narrative, or any other form of creative expression.
4. Do not ridicule or slight feelings. As we encourage others to become emotionally expressive, it is vital that we provide a secure and safe environment for them to talk about feelings and emotions. They should not feel threatened, and therefore we need to avoid ridiculing or mocking their feelings. Instead, we need to recognize, acknowledge as well as value their emotions, to encourage them to be more expressive.
5. Provide a listening ear. We need to make sure that we do not miss out on any effort made by another person to express his or her feelings. Therefore, we need to be willing to be an active listener, so that we can serve as an available source of support with whom the person can engage comfortably.
What Can You Do?
If you ever notice a friend, colleague or a near and dear one who seems to be under the weather, or experiencing any form of an emotional turmoil, have you ever wondered on what would be the best approach to adopt? The following are some of the points which could be helpful:
1. Be calm. First of all, it is important for you not to get anxious or distressed. Be calm, and provide your support by being there for the person. If you yourself get anxious or worked up, you would not be in a position to be of any help or support.
2. Provide support and empathy. Besides being a source of support, it would be beneficial if you could help the individual to reach out to the help of a professional mental health expert for adequate interventions. Further, it is also important to assess for the risk factors and not to ignore any warning signs. In fact, if you are able to engage in a conversation about the person’s feelings, you can help the person in coping with the situation by taking a solution-oriented approach, and reaching out to the existing support mechanisms. Give the person a chance to express him/herself. Do not interrogate or form judgements. Convey your genuine concern and support.
3. Talk. We should not hesitate to initiate the conversation with the affected persons, as it is important to give a chance to express their feelings and release their pent-up emotions. It is a myth that talking about the problem aggravates the situation. In fact, giving them a chance to vent out their feelings and emotions is more likely to help the person lighten the burden by being able to share it with someone who is concerned.
4. Be non-judgmental. Do not offer them unsolicited advice. Giving reassurance with active listening and engaging with the person is very beneficial. Try and empathize with the individual, to try and understand his or her emotions. Show that you care for the person, and do not interrogate. The most effective role you can play is to be a listener, and offering your support.
5. Encourage help-seeking. Do not hesitate to reach out for help. It is important to encourage the person to seek the support of mental health experts to ensure adequate interventions and prevent adverse outcomes.