Why It's So Goddamn Hard For Women To Talk About How We Feel
Sometimes when I open my mouth to speak, the words just never leave.
In an attempt to fight it, I write out everything beforehand, I call up a good friend for a pep talk or act as my own personal cheerleader, accompanied by a kickass playlist.
Usually though, I am completely stuck.
My silence is broken with jumbled words, combined with awkward sentences that don't express everything happening inside my head. How does this happen?
Sure, there is the obvious, inevitable risk that comes with sharing and letting someone in, as we saw when Brené Brown’s Ted Talk on “The Power of Vulnerability” went viral. Yet, what if it's not just our own individual deficiencies?
As women of Generation-Y, we find ourselves swimming in trends of aspiration to be the antithesis of emotional, labeling ourselves as emotionally unavailable, unattached and conquerors of the one-night stand.
While we have every right to sleep with whomever we want, when we want, is that all we honestly vie for? Do we feel empowered enough to ask for more? Why has it become so goddamn hard to talk about how we feel and instead put all of our energy into never rocking the boat?
The truth is, many of us believe that wanting emotional intimacy with whom we sleep is weak and needy, and frames us as sappy, female stereotypes.
Regardless of women biologically having more tools to communicate, many of us have become so detached from how we actually feel to the point that many us have either forgotten or never understood how to authentically communicate in the first place.
Herein lies the appeal of the one-night stand to the socially anxious person, as it involves no emotional connection, personal banter or expectations. This, in turn, translates to no chances of being rejected.
Despite society and the media pumping images of feminism through our brains that women are only emotional, loving creatures, as women, we have ultimately been trained to quiet how we feel for fear of losing our relationships, our respect, or most concerning, coming off as drama queens.
What is most ironic about this phenomenon is that biologically, girls not only learn language earlier than boys but also have a more advanced set of language skills.
This advantage should inspire women to better understand their emotional experiences, because the more we do, the more we will develop healthier relationships, and successful academic and professional careers.
As psychologist Jill P. Weber shares in her book, "Having Sex, Wanting Intimacy: Why Women Settle for One-Sided Relationships," women are modeled to bottle up feelings to the point where they begin to lose the ability to verbalize what's on their minds.
Weber points out that as women have adopted male models of dating, many of us have lost our voices in asking for and believing that we deserve emotional intimacy.
Girls learn early, as they begin to notice how relationships tend to run smoother when they do not express negative emotions.
As a result, Weber writes, "[women] begin to turn down the volume on [their] emotional worlds.”
Women have been indirectly told that to preserve our relationships, we better not get upset or worse, complain.
Through internalizing feelings and relying on passive aggressive behavior, these coping mechanisms are ineffective and deplete one's sense of emotional intelligence.
Yet unfortunately, it is also who we are sharing our feelings with that can further complicate the process.
Research shows that people are attracted to others who are on par with their own communication proficiencies.
Thus, if you already have poor communication skills, you can bet you’ll be attracted to someone else who does, too.
With impaired communication skills, people often resort to expressing their feelings through physical and sexual means, creating dysfunctional patterns and roadblocks for a relationship to deeply grow.
The key is to break the mold and become masters at knowing ourselves emotionally. Studies show people with a wider awareness of feelings demonstrate healthier interpersonal adjustment, finer interpersonal adaptability in social situations and sharpened cognitive complexity.
Sometimes, the best way to crank out those feelings is to first label what you’re experiencing, which will further help to distinguish your experiences.
If you are still stuck, try to notice what you are feeling physically (i.e. jittery, relaxed, nauseous), as these feelings are directly connected to the emotions we hold in.
Like many things in life, we are afraid of what we do not know. Once we identify how we are feeling, we can better understand what we are experiencing, which will allow us to cope more successfully.
This affects us in all walks of life. If we cannot identify and communicate how we feel, we will never channel our confidence and speak powerfully.
By using a more omnipotent dialect, we attract people to listen to us, respect us and take what we say seriously.
“If you keep working at it, you will find a way to say just about anything. It may be difficult initially to find your voice,” Weber writes, “but what choice do you have?”