by Emily Rus, 24, guest blogger
I woke up with the same awful feeling I fell asleep with. This tight, anxious feeling in my chest. I was in Los Angeles with my boyfriend and we had been talking about me potentially moving out there. I had tried so hard not to put pressure on this trip but somehow the pressure was there. No one was even putting pressure on me, I was putting it on myself.
We had been out to dinner the night before, which should have been great. There I was, in an amazing city with my boyfriend, but I was so anxious I couldn’t even enjoy it. I tried to ignore the feeling and just let go. “I’ll just go to sleep and in the morning I’ll feel better” I told myself. But when I felt the same in the morning I really started freaking out. I decided I had to tell him that I felt weird. When I did he wanted nothing more than to make me feel better so he thought of a relaxation technique. “Start relaxing your toes first, then your feet then…” he said. I wanted to relax but I just couldn’t. “What if this was all a horrible idea? Do I even like this city? Moving for a relationship is the worst plan ever…” just kept running through my head.
Tears started streaming down my face. He looked over, excited to see if I was more relaxed and saw that instead, I was even more upset. While his technique didn’t work in the traditional way, it did get me to a point where I could break down and talk everything out. So thats what we did.
Pay attention to what you’re feeling.
When it comes down to it, emotional issues take more time and effort to fix. Sometimes it feels like the society I’m living in doesn’t want to deal with emotions. It can be hard to express an emotion when your instinct is to push it down, turn it off and ignore so it doesn’t bother you anymore. I have made a promise to myself to try my best to understand and express my uncomfortable emotions instead of let them sit.
Recognize that your emotional pain is important.
Why is it so easy to express a physical discomfort and not an emotional one? I have no hesitation to tell a friend I have a headache, and I also get a barrage of questions. “Did you take advil? Did you drink enough water? Did you get enough sleep?” But sometimes it can be so hard to get the words out “I feel sad” or “I feel angry.” We want to make every problem a physical issue so it’s easy to talk about and easy to cure. But the next time someone says “I dunno, I feel a little weird…” I want to take the time to ask them as as many questions as I would if they expressed a physical discomfort. That shows value for each other’s emotional well-being.
Discover what you need and ask for it.
You would think getting to the root of a feeling would be a natural, easy conversation. However, feelings are so complex that it is one of the hardest thing to do in any relationship – partner, friend or family member. Something I have recently found about myself is that in order to open up about something I’m anxious about, I need someone to ask me questions about why I’m feeling the way I feel. And while it was hard to tell my boyfriend that I needed that, the payoff was more than worth it. A wave of relief washed over me after we talked and it made me that much more confident in our relationship. Everyone needs something different. Maybe you need five solid minutes to talk. Or some time to think before you talk. Discover what you need and ask for it!
Be an active listener.
As much as I need the people in my life to listen to me, I want to be an active listener too. There is a difference between feeling like someone has just listened to you verses actually hearing you. Asking questions and inquiring a little deeper can make such a difference in the way someone feels at the end of a conversation. Sometimes just taking the time to inquire can make someones day a whole lot brighter.