Emotional Health•Healing•Recovery • 6 minutes to read
Movies are my favorite. Every Saturday, my family Sabbaths and we watch a movie together.
A few weeks ago, we watched Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs. Cloudy is a movie about a young inventor, Flint, who wants to make an impact on the world with his inventions. He wants to be significant in the eyes of others, especially his father.
His father is the owner of a fishing shop in their town and has no time for Flint’s crazy inventions. He doesn’t understand his son and is seemingly unable to connect with his son. This is also seen in the way the father’s character is shown––his unibrow covers his eyes the whole movie.
To get the whole story, you’ll need to watch the movie. But I was watching it with my family and near the end of the movie, there was an incredibly powerful scene between Flint and his father. While struggling with what to say after his son saved the town, Flint’s friend, Sam, grabs one of Flint’s inventions and places it on the father. The device reads the thoughts of its wearer and communicates through a speaker.
Instead of me trying to describe it for you, why don’t you just watch it? It’s powerful.
As I sat there watching this scene, I wondered why it’s so hard for us to share our emotions. Especially for us men. Why was it so hard for Flint’s father to use words to express what his heart was feeling? Of course, this got me thinking about my life and where I get stuck in being unwilling to share my feelings.
As I’ve processed this scene over the past few weeks, I’ve landed on a few different reasons we don’t share our emotions. They are all tied to fear.
I hope that the better we understand why we don’t share, the more willing we are to push through and begin sharing honestly how we feel.
We’re Afraid of Doing It Wrong
Fear of failure is something we all have to face. We carry it throughout most of our lives in one area or another. And probably one of the bigger areas of life where this plays out is with our emotions.
Because so few of us were given a good example of sharing our emotions, we start out as novices. We don’t have a handbook or manual when it comes to sharing our emotions (though some Bible nerds would say that’s what the book of Psalms is about…and I agree). When starting something new, like sharing emotions, we’re wobbly and unsure of ourselves. Like riding a bike, we’re going to fall and crash and probably scrape our knees. But this should never hinder us from getting back on the bike, and for sure should never hinder us from sharing our feelings.
Many of us heard the message that our emotions are bad. That is simply not true (check out this podcast to learn more). If emotions were bad, would God have given us the ability to experience them? My thought: no! God designed us with the ability to feel and express emotion. So, sharing our emotions is not bad.
But sharing our emotions always comes with risk. And oftentimes, it will be scary. But there’s no perfect way to share our emotions. Sure, there are some ways of doing it that can be more hurtful than others (judging others, screaming, swearing, etc). But what we feel is what we feel. And sharing what we feel is okay.
Don’t let fear sabotage your efforts to share your emotions.
We’re Afraid of Looking Weak
Have you ever tried opening one of those twist-open jars in front of your spouse and you just can’t do it? Like the salsa jar that, for some reason, is your kryptonite and you can’t seem to get it open? But then, in shame, you hand it to your spouse and they immediately twist the lid off. Yeah, these moments are the worst. Mine is my son’s milk cup—for some reason it just doesn’t like me and wants me to look weak.
In these moments, we feel so weak and worthless. We have thoughts like, “Why can’t I open this thing?” Or, “If only I worked out more, I wouldn’t have this problem?”
A lot of us feel the same way about sharing our emotions. Especially those emotions that make us appear weak. Emotions like fear, anxiety, uncertainty, or insecurity.
But have you ever considered that you’re not the only one who feels these emotions? We all feel fear, anxiety, uncertainty, and insecurity. And many more emotions that make us feel weak.
Let me be very clear here: feeling fear, anxiety, uncertainty, or insecurity does not make you weak. Feeling these emotions makes you human.
If I’ve learned anything on my recovery journey, it’s that sharing my real, raw emotions is what connects me most with others. When I’m able to overcome my fear of looking weak and share my emotions, I’m often met with understanding and even appreciation for sharing.
We don’t need to be afraid of our weaknesses. It’s our weakness that makes us dependent on Christ. This is what Paul talks about in 2 Corinthians. He asked the Lord to take away a physical weakness, but God spoke to him and said,
My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.2 Corinthians 12:9 (NIV)
And this is what causes Paul to respond with,
For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.2 Corinthians 12:10 (ESV)
Because of Christ, we can be content in our weaknesses. We can be content in being human and experiencing uncomfortable emotions. We can be content in sharing these emotions with others, knowing in our weakness God’s power is made perfect.
We’re Afraid of How People Will Respond
I believe the main reason we don’t share our emotions is the fear of how others will respond.
This can come from many different places but, I’m willing to guess, if you struggle with sharing your emotions, there was likely a time when you let someone inside your world and shared your emotions and it didn’t go well. Maybe they responded by dismissing your feelings. Maybe they told you it was wrong to feel that way. Regardless of the specifics, most of us, to some degree, have experienced negative responses to sharing our emotions.
I believe this is the primary reason so many of us keep our emotions locked inside. We don’t want to relive that terrible experience. We don’t want our emotions dismissed or labeled as “wrong.”
This fear of experiencing a negative response is what keeps us from sharing. We think of the worst-case scenario. We struggle believing anyone will respond positively or supportively to our emotions.
If this is your experience, I’m so sorry. I honestly know how it feels. To feel something at a deep, soul level and have someone trample it with insensitivity, a lack of caring, or even their own fear of revealing emotions.
But we can’t stay there. We can’t stay locked up emotionally because of how others might respond. Others shouldn’t have this much power over us anyway.
Again, God created us to experience and share emotions. Don’t let others keep you from living and expressing the emotional life God created for you.
Like Flint’s father from Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs, we can so easily experience a disconnect between our heart and mouth. We get locked up emotionally and fear sharing our feelings. And even though the reasons for this fear are legitimate, we cannot allow it to keep us from communicating our emotions with others.
We all have people in our lives like Flint, who desperately need and want to hear about our emotional inner world. They want to know our fears, insecurities, and concerns. They want to know that we are human and have weaknesses. They want to know it’s safe to feel their uncomfortable emotions.
Don’t stay locked up. Push through the fear. There’s much at stake if we don’t.
The views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are those of the author alone and do not reflect an official position of Pure Desire Ministries, except where expressly stated.