Say What You Feel

Everyone has a moment from time to time when they didn’t say what they were feeling. Whether you thought about it at the moment or thought about it later on when sorting your feelings, we’ve all done it. Some would say that it’s quite common for people not to say what they feel. But the truth is, many positives come with being authentic and speaking your mind.

Some people confuse speaking their minds with an excuse to be rude and vise versa. There are plenty of ways to be yourself and say what you feel without being confrontational or rubbing people the wrong way, though.

You can’t expect other people to read your mind or know what you feel if you don’t say it. One of the biggest things people struggle to tell others is simple, “No.” A close second is being honest about how someone is making you feel in a moment, sharing honest opinions that aren’t catered to the audience your speaking with, and sharing ideas.

The thing is, communication and conversations can only be productive, collaborative, and fulfilling to all parties if all parties are being honest.

How many times have you agreed to something you didn’t want to do because you didn’t have the courage at the moment to say, “No,”? It’s a tough thing to say, especially when we feel like we’re letting someone down, or like they never ask you for anything so you can’t say no, or you owe them one, the list goes on.

The truth is, you don’t need an excuse to say no, whether you just don’t feel like it, don’t want to, don’t have the time, or don’t have the resources such as money to shell out on an out of town wedding. Although saying, “No,” is the quickest example that comes to mind, there are tons of other times you’re probably not saying what you feel. We’re going to get to the bottom of that here, so keep reading.

Why Should You Say What You Feel?

Saying what you feel may make you feel uncomfortable or even anxious. On the other hand, not saying what you feel can have lasting effects on your relationships and even within yourself. Here are several reasons why you should say what you feel.

  • Being true to who you are
  • Developing closer relationships with people you confide in
  • The feeling of freedom
  • You’ll become more consistent
  • You’ll have more exceptional communication skills

Let’s explore each of these a little further.

Being True to Who You Are

When you don’t say what you feel, you’re essentially leaving out a part of or hiding who you are. There’s no sense in hiding your true self from others. Saying what you feel can help you become your authentic self. Rather than building a wall around yourself so that other people can only see parts of you or worse, mistake your thoughts and feelings completely, you can be yourself out in the open.

When you say what you feel, you also give others the chance to respond accordingly. Faced with your true feelings or opinions, the people you speak to can offer comfort, guidance, help you work through things you’re unsure of or don’t agree with, and can compromise with you if it’s a disagreement with them.

If you continuously let others believe things about you that aren’t true, then they have no choice but to take you for what you say. They will be unable to appreciate you for who you are or respect your wants and needs. You owe it to yourself to be authentically you.

Developing Closer Relationships With The People You Confide In

Each day we interact with different groups of people. We may communicate with those in our network of family members both near and far, our social circle of friends, and possibly a separate group of work colleagues and work friends. Among each of those groups, there are people we talk with, perhaps daily, but with whom we have a real connection.

On the other hand, there may be several people among the different groups who we may feel a deeper connection. Part of the reason is likely due to feeling those people who truly know who you are. You’ve likely taken conversations into deeper levels than the rest, or you had a stronger connection, to begin with, and it’s blossomed over time.

The point is, when you start opening up and being honest with people, you open yourself to gaining deeper connections with others. Some folks like to keep to themselves and keep their circle of people small, but it never hurts to expand your circle and deepen your connections.

Saying What You Feel is Freeing

Saying what you feel doesn’t necessarily equate to spouting out whatever comes to mind without regard to who’s around you. We don’t want you to think that you’ll feel free because you shouted whatever came to mind, not caring what other people thought.

It’s an entirely different mindset than that. Contrary to the above, saying what you feel means you take the time to think about what you say, how you feel about any given situation, and the best way to say it to whomever you’re speaking.

When you share yourself like this with others, you will gain a sense of freedom. You’re not hiding anything or doing, acting, or saying things just to please others. It’s the lightest feeling in the world.

You’ll Become More Consistent

Being inconsistent with what and who you are to yourself and with others can cause a disconnect within yourself. It may leave you feeling weary, anxious, annoyed, or otherwise. When you learn to communicate what you truly feel, you’ll find a balance within yourself between who you are inside and who you are projecting to others.

When you find this balance, you’ll begin to reap the benefits of consistency.

You Have Greater Communication Skills

Saying what you feel requires practice and self-awareness. It also fosters connections and helps people explore things more deeply. Consequently, when you’re working on being true to yourself and saying what you feel, you’ll be practicing communication skills, which will always serve you well.

When you achieve transparency with others, there is no problem you can’t solve. That means not only will you be more comfortable expressing yourself with others, but others are likely to feel more comfortable expressing themselves with you in return.

What Happens When People Don’t Say What They Feel?

George Bernard Shaw said, “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” People often find themselves avoiding having conversations with one another. People screen phone calls say they’re too tired to chat with their partner and go to bed instead, or do their best to keep conversations short and shallow.

When you don’t say what you feel, it can cause a spiral of things to happen. Most notably, it can cause miscommunication – which can lead to arguments, rifts in relationships, and a whole host of other negative symptoms. When you don’t say what you feel, you’re allowing inauthentic connections to grow – connections you may not even want in the first place.

When you don’t say what you feel, you can’t expect others to know the truth behind what you say, to decipher messages, or to know that when you said X, you meant Y. Similarly, you can’t expect others to “just know” things.

Here’s an example. I was sitting at my desk at work, taking a break to scroll on my phone and distract my mind from the project I was just finishing. My coworker came by and started asking me questions about another work task. I was on a break and scrolling, and she was asking me questions about work.

Not a big deal, I answered her questions without too much thought and figured that was the end of it. The next thing I know, she’s walked by to her desk and threw the files she had down in a huff, flopping in her chair quite audibly.

Avoiding Disagreement or Hostility

In this scenario, I rolled my chair over far enough so that we could make eye contact and asked her if I had said something that upset her. She said that she needed more clarification on what she was asking, and I couldn’t be bothered to look up from my phone.

To me, this all seemed a little nonsensical. My coworker didn’t ask me for clarification, and the conversation didn’t seem that urgent, so I wasn’t looking up to talk to her and answer her questions.

I also never said anything like, “Hey, I’m on a break right now. Can you give me a few minutes?” If I had, she would have gotten my full attention when we did talk, and I could potentially have noticed that she needed more clarification, or if she had my full attention, she might have asked for clarification.

I could have listened to her flop into her chair and not said anything at all. Over time, our working relationship would likely suffer from a build-up of these small miscommunications.

In the end, I was on a break and didn’t want to be bothered with work questions for a moment. But instead of saying so, I gave someone my partial attention, and it caused a slight issue. Luckily, the problem was easy to resolve this time.

You can probably think of several conversations that have gone similarly. Imagine all of the arguments, disconnects, and miscommunications that you can avoid if you are honest with yourself and others.

Are There Appropriate Times To Say What You Feel?

Being honest about what you feel is a gift that you give to yourself and others. Saying what’s on your mind helps keep your conscious clear. It means that you aren’t confining yourself to things that aren’t true. Speaking what you feel helps keep you free from regrets and missing possibilities due to leaving things unsaid.

Does that mean you should always blatantly say whatever comes to mind? No, it doesn’t. Being honest to yourself and others isn’t an excuse to be rude, inconsiderate, or hurtful to others. It’s quite the opposite when saying what’s on your mind; you should give your words thought, consider who you’re talking to, and find ways for the conversation to meet in the middle rather than being forceful or one-sided.

Here’s What Saying What You Feel Shouldn’t Look Like

When someone asks you your opinion on something, there’s a difference between being honest and courteous rather than being blunt or rude. Say, for example, your coworker is planning her wedding and asks you and a few others your thoughts on her chosen decor.

You may think the decor is hideous, outdated, or trashy. Being honest doesn’t mean you should, in front of several other coworkers, tell this woman that her wedding decor is hideous, ugly, and outdated.

You could, however, ask probing questions like, “What sort of style are you trying to pull together?” You could also say, “Do you think you’ll be able to find bridesmaid dresses that enhance your theme?” When she answers these questions or others, you may have more to go on.

You can say, “I’m not a fan of the burlap table coverings, do you like that color in particular, or would you be open to something a little more lively?” Many times, it’s not exactly what you say, but how you say it.

Keep in mind that a comedian is not funny if he doesn’t have excellent delivery on his punchlines. Being honest uses the same premise. Make sure you take the time to give an exceptional delivery with the things that you say to help keep your honesty authentic, rather than flat out rude.

Here’s What Speaking Your Mind Should Look Like

As we demonstrated above, there is a time and place for honesty. You can say what’s on your mind without it negatively affecting others. Will there be times that someone doesn’t like your honesty or your opinion, or be offended because you said what you felt and it caused them to feel a certain way about it, yes. That’s unavoidable in life. But the vital thing to remember is that being true to yourself is the best choice in the long run.

Pause Before Responding

Before you say what your feeling exactly, take some time to consider the following, think about how you feel about what’s going on. Think about how the other person might be feeling. And finally, be sure that you fully understand what’s going on before replying. Often, when we speak too soon, we can come off sounding a way we didn’t intend. We didn’t take the time to choose our words wisely, so start there.

Ask For More Time or Clarification

If you don’t know how you feel yet or don’t fully understand the situation, let the person know that you’re still thinking about what’s going on, or ask them for a better understanding.

Whether you’re feeling too heated to talk about things now, or you just need more time to think about it, ask for the time you need. If there’s something you’re confused about, ask more questions until you feel like you’ve grasped a better understanding of the situation.

Consider and Accept the Consequences Before Responding

Earlier, we discussed the fact that there will be times when people don’t care to hear the truth. There will be times when people will be mad at your honesty. There will be times that what you say changes the way someone feels about you.

Whatever the case may be, take the time to know the range of reactions that speaking your truth may cause. When you’ve accepted that your words may have these consequences, then find the courage to say what you need to say and stick behind it.

You can’t win every situation, and if being honest is going to cost you something, accept it for what it is, hold your head high and do it with grace.

Why Do I Feel Like I Can’t Say What I Feel?

The key to becoming comfortable and confident in speaking your mind is to address what’s holding you back. We’ve discussed that there are numerous reasons why you aren’t speaking up and being honest in various situations. Working through the ideas that you feel unable to be honest, will help you break the ice and become more confident in speaking honestly with people.

Fear of Rejection or Disapproval

No one enjoys it when other people are mad at them or disapprove of them. Some folks don’t particularly care, but others have a severe fear. If this sounds like you, listen up, you cannot let your fear of rejection stand in the way with being honest with people.

Having someone accept you under pretenses isn’t going to feel any better in the long run than having them upset at you for a short while or having their disapproval. Your deep happiness is all that matters, so honor it.

Feeling Hopeless

It’s easy to fall victim to the thought pattern that it doesn’t matter if you’re honest because it’s not going to change anything. But, indeed, it will change at least one thing. And that one thing is the most important of all that you honored yourself, what’s right, and what’s best for you.

Being the Martyr

My favorite excuse for not speaking up is martyrdom. There, I said it. I hate to give others the satisfaction that either they’re right and I’m wrong, or that they have hurt me or caused any kind of reaction from me. I also hate to let things burden anyone else. If something is going to overwhelm me, but it’s going to burden someone else if I don’t deal with it or do it, I will say yes and do it because I don’t want to put it on anyone else.

You know what being a martyr has gotten me? Nowhere, fast. Listen, folks. This one speaks for itself. It’s completely OK to say that you can’t or don’t want to do something. It’s also okay to offer a compromise or suggestions for how to come together on something. You’ll feel a lot less confined by exercising your communication abilities in these situations.


People often learn passive-aggressive communication styles through modeling. You may not like to hear this, but being stuck in passive-aggressive communication styles makes you seem immature to others.

Rather than storming off, pouting, or holding onto hurt and anger inside, just say what you feel. Many folks think that if they’re sulking or pouting, the other person should know that they are upset or that they do know and are ignoring you.

It’s not fair to hold others accountable for things you didn’t disclose. It’s not fair to believe that others should read your mind or your negative body language. So, the next time you catch yourself giving someone the cold shoulder or silent treatment, hoping to elicit a reaction, stop what you’re doing. Take a deep breath, maybe hit yourself with the old, “5-4-3-2-1..” and then go have a chat about how you’re feeling.

Low Self Esteem

Believing that you are not good enough to ask for the things that you want is a severe problem that many people face. You don’t always have to please people and answer how they want you to. You’re entitled to express your opinions honestly with people.

It may seem unnatural to you, to say something that you know maybe displeasing to others. However, if it’s in your best interest, you need to spend some time working out why you don’t feel like you can be honest.

If someone is going to be upset with you or guilt you because you spoke your mind or asked for what you needed, you may need to evaluate whether this person is right for you. On the flip side, it’s common to feel like something terrible will happen if you express yourself only to find that it’s completely OK with the other person when you do it.

Conflict Phobia

If I’m honest with myself here, this is my number two reason for keeping quiet in certain situations. I’m admittedly a passive person; I don’t like conflict, whether its real or perceived. That’s right guys; there are plenty of us who just don’t like conflict and avoid it like the plague.

If I feel like I can just keep quiet and not cause an issue with someone, I tend not to say anything. Even if it’s not exactly ideal for me or I find that I’m regretting that decision later, I never bring it up again.

Often, we feel like it’s less uncomfortable for us to do or say something in a situation rather than deal with what would happen if we spoke up. That’s no way to live! Don’t be an ostrich with your head in the sand; practice speaking up when you have the opportunity arises, and in time, you’ll get more comfortable with the idea.

Tips For Being Yourself and Owning Your Feelings

Now that you’ve had a chance to discover a little more about why you’re stuck in individual communication styles, let’s talk about what you can do to overcome your barriers.

  • Trust yourself – Stop looking to others to define your emotions. If it’s not necessary, don’t ask anyone. Spend some time working through emotions and get comfortable trusting your own decisions.
  • Know your value – You’re important. You matter. Your feelings matter. Practice this belief because an underlying problem with not saying what you feel is not believing that your opinions are valued.
  • Visualize – A common problem people have is wanting to say things, but when faced with the opportunity – stone-cold silence. It’s easy to freeze. Next time, envision yourself saying what you need to say over and over again until you’re ready to leap.
  • Jump – After you’ve had some time to visualize the encounter, it’s time to jump. When you’re new to speaking your mind, there may be a few bumps in the road while you work out the kinks and learn to get comfortable with this new speak-your-mind self. Do it anyway, and enjoy the process!

In Conclusion

Even though this post had slight feelings are a severe matter feel to it, you don’t always have to feel things so heavily. If you need to make light of a situation to help yourself through it, do it.

Rather than starting a conversation with, “We need to talk..” or “I need you to know…” you can simply start a conversation about how you usually would without the air of seriousness. The most important aspect is that you focus on you and the way you feel. In the end, ask for exactly what you need or want.

Once you have it all off your chest, you can give the other person a chance to take some time to think about what you’ve said and let them know they don’t need to answer you straight away.

Saying what you feel is a skill that you’ll develop over time with practice, self-awareness, and reflection. Be kind to yourself during the process.

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