Three Steps to Talking Things Out – Your Tango

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Do you ever keep your emotions bottled up? Here’s how to benefit from sharing your thoughts and feelings, and talking things out.

If we avoid speaking up, if we continue to ignore the issues rather than to focus on the way we communicate about them, our frustrations will continue to grow.  With our avoidant behavior, those unmet needs get bigger, not smaller.

So how do we get out of this? How do we reverse this cycle? As the Nike ad campaign said years ago: Just do it. Here’s how (and no, you don’t have to start talking everything out right away!):

1. Prepare your ideas. If you feel any frustration or anger, start by writing out your feelings and thoughts. Assess what you can take control of and what you can’t. Look for something you can do even if it’s small and especially if it is scary, and buoy yourself for action. Then, craft a sentence or two which will open the topic kindly, respectfully, and directly.

2. Set a time. Make the time, force yourself to focus, and do it. Share your feelings with your partner, speak up at work – even if it’s small and especially if it’s scary. Choose bravery over fear, courage over avoidance.

3. Admit it – it feels good. There’s a reason people use the phrase “getting it off my chest” – it literally feels like a weight lifted off of you once you bring up an aching topic. The benefit is that by speaking up, we can see how facing our fears made us feel good about getting it off our chest, and thereby more confident in ourselves.

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Alicia H. Clark, PsyD