Tough Stuff

How to own your feelings (even if it's hard)

Have you ever felt *so* strongly about something, but you just couldn't bring yourself to speak up about it? Maybe you were worried about what your friends or fam would think of you. Or maybe you didn't want to hurt someone's feelings.

Trust us, sis, we get it. It's vulnerable to speak up. And for all you people pleasers out there, we see you.

But your feelings matter, too. Not to mention that honesty and authenticity can make your relationships even stronger.

Ready to speak your truth, no matter the sitch? We've got a few tips to boost your confidence...

1. Connect with your feelings (like, for real) 


It's hard to share your thoughts if you don't know exactly what they are. Maybe something your BFF said hurt your feelings, but you're worried she'll think you're overreacting if you tell her how you feel. The first step before you speak up? Dig deep to figure out what you *really* want to say.

+ Journal. Let yourself just write freely without judging what comes out. Try writing for at least 15 minutes each day so you can get in the practice of letting your thoughts flow. Once they're all out on the paper, it can be easier to sort through what you think and get clear. Some good prompts to get you started? Try "If I could say one thing to ______, I'd say..." or "The last time I felt this way was when..." 

+ Pay attention to how your body feels. Emotions come to us first through our bodies. Ever noticed a tight chest when you're anxious or a lump in your throat when you're sad? Your body can give you clues about how you feel.

+ Practice naming your feelings. As part of your journaling practice, you can write down three emotions you felt that day and what caused them. For example, let's say you felt ashamed, scared and confused today. (Psst: Shame is when we feel like we're bad or there's something wrong with us that makes us different from other people.) You could write, "I felt ashamed, scared and confused when my cheer coach criticized me in front of the entire squad. I felt scared that everyone was judging me and I felt confused about what I did wrong." This can help you get in the habit of checking in with yourself and understanding what triggers your emotions.

2. Learn assertive communication skills

There are tons of different ways to communicate—and some are healthier than others. Healthy communication means taking responsibility for your feelings and expressing them, rather than blaming other people. Healthy communication also means not stuffing your feelings away to avoid conflict. You've got to get those feelings out, girl!

The good news? There's a way to say things truthfully without attacking someone else or blaming them. To communicate assertively, you want to own your feelings and thoughts. 

For example, "I felt sad when you didn't text me back" is *way* better than "You're not a good friend because you didn't text me." In fact, you're less likely to make someone feel defensive when you speak this way. Psychologists and therapists refer to this as an "I-statement." An "I-statement" is basically just a clear assertion of what you think and feel without attacking, judging or blaming anyone else. 

Some more examples of I-statements are: "I want to have a later curfew because I'm not able to stay out as late as my other friends do" or "I feel nervous about going to her party." 

3. Practice validating yourself

Let's say that your bestie cancels on your sleepover plans for the third time. It would make sense to feel sad, disappointed or irritated.

If you told her how you felt and she responded with something like, "I don't think you should be upset! You know how stressed I've been about finals. I need to study," you might question if your feelings were misguided.

We're here to tell you that your feelings are never wrong. In a situation like this, no one's feelings are wrong—they're just different. And learning how to validate yourself is important so that you're not dependent on other people's reactions to affirm whether your feelings are acceptable. 

How to practice this? Imagine if someone else (like your BFF or your sister) felt the way you did. Ask yourself why it would make sense. For example, "Julia was sad because she didn't get the lead role in the musical. It makes sense that she felt this way, because she put so much time into practicing her audition."

Also, try repeating affirmations like "My feelings always make sense" or "I have a right to feel my feelings." We'll be honest: It's a difficult skill to learn, but keep at it—even if you have to send yourself reminders on your iPhone or put Post-it notes on your mirror. Here's to a major confidence glow-up!

For more life tips, check out these posts:
✨ How to stop being a people pleaser
✨ How to ask your strict parents for more freedom
Thinking traps: what they are and how to deal with them

Slider image: @avajames
Top image: @itsgretawilson


by Samantha Bothwell | 11/22/2023