According to Richardson, when we have feelings for someone, we often accidentally give them the power of validating or invalidating us — as if our value increases if they validate our feelings, and decreases if they don’t.
“Be careful not to give away your power,” she warns. “No one has the power to hurt us unless we give it to them. Brené Brown talks a lot about how when we are anxious or afraid, we begin to tell ourselves stories and typically those stories are negative. We often use these stories to keep us small, afraid and stuck. The truth is, the only real barrier to having the life that you want is you. If you are willing to get out of your own way by loving and supporting yourself, you can step into the person and the life you were meant to live.”
Work on building yourself up in any way you can, whether that means taking strength training classes at the gym, journaling about your daily accomplishments, or setting reminders on your phone with affirmations of self-love. The more you recognize your own self-worth and power, the less likely you are to allow yourself to be crushed when you reveal your feelings and don’t receive the response you desired.
The reality is, you may not become comfortable expressing your feelings overnight — which is why Dr. Brown stresses the importance of being patient with yourself.
“Accept that you may very well not feel comfortable nor confident when initially sharing your feelings,” he explains. “This is completely normal. We don’t really develop confidence by holding our feelings in — we develop confidence by opening up to others.”
Experts agree it’s well worth it to overcome your fear of expressing your feelings. For one, Dr. Brown asserts that this is the best way to establish trust in someone.
“The ability to trust someone allows us to be vulnerable with them,” he says. “And when we are vulnerable, we dramatically increase our chances of knowing just how much we can connect with someone.”
Richardson also emphasizes that in order to live your most authentic life, it’s crucial to let your feelings be known.
“If you have a kind, loving or nice thing to share and you don't, it feeds the fear that you are not good enough,” she adds. If you share your goodness, it has the opportunity to grow and spread. Even if you do not get your desired outcome, you have stepped more fully into who you truly are and have honored yourself. There is no better gift we can give ourselves and nothing more difficult in life than to live authentically.”
Remember: The rewards to speaking from your heart can far outweigh the risks. Expressing your feelings is nothing short of bestowing a gift upon someone — it shows them that you trust them, and it allows them the opportunity to be honest with you in return. Who knows? They just might feel the same way. The point is, the kind of person you want to keep in your life will want to know how you feel, and appreciate your honesty and bravery. If you can let your guard down and be vulnerable with them, they're far more likely to do the same.