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By Dennis J. Trittin

For some reason, many believe that sharing feelings is a sign of weakness. This is especially true among men, who have either been taught that way or cringe when the media makes such a big deal out of it (hello athletes!).

Regardless of the reason, we pay a price if we don’t express our feelings. First, it deprives others of knowing how you really feel. Second, suppressed feelings can cause stress and if severe, illness and depression. Third, it can cause explosive reactions when they’re eventually released, often at the worst possible moment. The balloon pops rather than gently losing its air. Not the best way of resolving conflict!

Wouldn’t the world be a better place (and all of us healthier) if we learned to freely and appropriately express our feelings to each other? Admittedly, it’s easier said than done, but it’s true. To test yourself, consider the following phrases and ask yourself how naturally you share them with others:

 

 

-I love you
-I’m proud of you
-Thank you
-I appreciate you
-I made a mistake
-I admire you
-I was wrong
-I care about you
-Please forgive me
-I’m sorry
-I’m grateful for you
-Let’s agree to disagree

Some of these are easier to express than others (compliments versus apologies!), but it doesn’t have to be that way. A little vulnerability and humility can be a good thing! And, expressing your feelings and communicating openly and honestly are skills that CAN be learned. You might start by sharing this list with your family and see where the conversation goes.

I’m Not Ashamed has several excellent examples of young adults expressing themselves, often in sensitive situations. Take special note of Nathan and Rachel, both in what they say and how they say it. We can all learn from them.

So, how would you rate on the “express yourself meter?”

Dennis J. Trittin is the President and CEO of LifeSmart Publishing, LLC and the author of What I Wish I Knew at 18: Life Lessons for the Road Ahead; and Parenting for the Launch: Raising Teens to Succeed in the Real World. Learn more at http://www.dennistrittin.com.