Monday, November 2, 2009

Express Yourself (Or Else)

I read an article in the Wall Street Journal a couple years ago (2007, I think) that talked about how women express their feelings, and why it is important. I actually saved the hard copy of that article up until this past summer when my husband and I moved into our current apartment, but alas, I think I threw it away in the move. Now that I want to write about it, I can't find it. But I have found another article that says something similar, and I will try to summarize for you.
Women use verbal communication differently than men do. This we know. Women like to talk about their feelings more than men do, and men often have a hard time understanding that we don't want them to solve our problems, just to listen to them. This is why we have girlfriends.
But what you might not know is that women need to have this kind of communication, and if they don't it can affect their health (not to mention relationships). The article I linked to above mentions that women sometimes use conversation to figure out how they're feeling, not just to convey something that they've already identified. This is important, because if you can't identify what you're feeling, you can't resolve it; and unresolved issues don't just disappear, although we might stop thinking about them.
Think about how stress can affect your body, especially after many years of it. (I'm thinking of an episode of Friends right now, where Phoebe works for Merrill Lynch and has two heart attacks because of the stress... remember?) Well, not identifying and expressing your feelings creates a lot of stress in your body, and even if you don't see any effects of it now, it can manifest itself physically later on in your life. Now this is the part where I really wish I could find that article, because it gave the results of a study that I would love to be able to quote more accurately. However, I will summarize and tell you that the study showed that women who didn't talk about their feelings were literally more likely to die than others who did. (By the way, if anyone knows what article I'm talking about and can tell me where to find it, I would love to have it again. I did many extensive Google searches that were, unfortunately, fruitless.)
You really shouldn't need studies telling you that you'll die if you don't give yourself the chance to talk about what you're feeling. I think that this is something we should all learn to do because we deserve to do it, to be able to express our thoughts and feelings. If you have really good girl friends, talk to them about you for a while. If you have a husband or boyfriend, make sure he understands how you communicate, and help him learn to listen to you in the way that you need to be listened to. If you don't have someone you feel comfortable being totally honest with, write in a journal or get a blog! You can be anonymous if you want, and writing a blog gives you a feeling of having talked to someone, because you know that anyone can read it. However you do it, make an effort to pay attention to your own feelings and learn to express them. It can help improve your relationships with loved ones, and you'll improve your emotional and physical health too.


Lin said...

I'm glad you mentioned this because it totally makes me feel more normal.

I often explain to people that I just need to talk things out, I'm not always looking for sympathy or guidance, I just have to get it out of my head. I need that reassurance that what I'm feeling/thinking/doing is "normal" and not completely crazy like I tend to think it is. I'm a talker, which is good. But I also carry a lot of stress around (as evidenced by my severe jaw pain) and this is after years of learning how to deal with stress. I used to let myself get so stressed out that I would shut down completely and not do anything for weeks. I almost failed out of college because of it. I think that's when I started trusting more people and talking to more people about things (instead of just my sister and/or my mom and/or one particular friend). It really does help to just let it all out.

Heidi Marie said...

Hmm, this is brilliant material, thank you! I realize now how that's totally true. When I have an issue, my husband may try to fix it and I will get so frustrated cause I don't want him to fix it, I just want him to understand! And now, I can help him understand more perfectly how to just listen and not necessarily try to fix everything, because it just stresses me more out when he does, poor adorable thing! Cause he's just trying to help. I love him. :D

Lis said...

I agree! My husband just lets me ramble on and on, and I really appreciate that he does that for me. In return, I let him figure some things out because that's what guys do.

Gina Marie said...


I didn't think I'd actually read your blog, but I bookmarked it for "one of those days". I just had a whim to see if it was updated, and thanks (again).

This article was a very feel-good article, and it makes me appreciate all the people in my life with whom I have the opportunity to with.

Oh- and I have placed a link to your blog from website- maybe more people will trickle in. :)