Disclaimer: this article is not to be considered any form of professional help. If you struggle with psychological issues, please, seek therapy with a psychologist.
It seems to be very easy to talk about our wishes. The answer to the question “How to do it?” lies on the surface — just open your mouth and speak. But the truth is, often that’s the hardest thing to do.
Why is it so difficult for us to express our desires? Because of all the psychological blocks and rigid beliefs we’ve accumulated, religious dogmas, and the fear of being judged by others. All this might make us fear to even accept that we have certain wishes.
The key to being open about what you want is to have no expectations for the person who is listening to your desires. You shouldn’t expect them to react or act in a certain way — that’s their freedom to have the reaction they want and need to have.
So if you are afraid to talk about your wishes, the first thing you need to work on is solving that inner conflict. You can either expect a person to react in a certain way and stay afraid to talk or just let them act however they feel like and allow yourself to be honest.
Why is it important to talk about your desires?
The short answer is to get what you want. But if we dig deeper into this, we can see that if you don’t talk about your wishes, you’ll eventually start feeling unsatisfied, frustrated, and mad because you won’t be getting what you want. All this accumulated stress will inevitably result in you bursting out with strong negative emotions that will impact you and your loved ones.
This usually leads to issues in relationships as you drive away people that were close to you because you feel unsatisfied and misunderstood. And if you stay in this condition for long enough, you risk developing neurosis, depression, and other mental issues. That’s why it’s important to express your desires.
Can you learn by yourself to be open about your wishes?
Sometimes yes, sometimes no. We learn to acknowledge and express our desires during the first months of our lives as we interact with our mothers. It’s not just the relationship between a mother and a child that matters. The psychological condition of a mother, her own ability to express desires and make them come true make a huge impact on a child. That’s why sometimes it’s necessary to work with a psychologist who will address the issue on a deeper level.
Learn to express your desires — a step-by-step guide
Here are the steps you need to take to start being open about what you want:
Step 1 — Learn to define your feelings
How many emotions can you name? Anger, sadness, happiness, love, indifference… continue the list. How many did you count, 10-15? A person experiences dozens of different emotions every day. Learn more about them and try to define what you feel throughout your day.
Step 2 — Learn to express your feelings
As you define what you’re feeling, learn to express your emotions. Once you’ve identified the emotion, name it and tell your partner or another close person how you feel at the moment. Don’t be afraid to express even negative feelings — it’s okay to be annoyed, angry, etc. Try to describe the situation objectively, as if you’re looking at it from another person’s perspective.
Talk about yourself, not your partner. For example, don’t say “You shouldn’t do that” when you’re upset with the behavior of your significant other. Say, “I feel lonely and unwanted when I’m treated like this”. In most cases, when people live together for a long time, they don’t even know what their close person feels like. So learn to express that.
Once you understand your emotions and how you really feel about certain life events, you’ll start defining your personal boundaries. When you understand what exactly makes you feel bad, it becomes easier to deal with these emotions. Then you will feel more comfortable and confident when talking to your partner. This will allow you to remain respectful towards them and talk about your desires.
Step 3 — Define your desires
When talking about your feelings, try defining your wishes that are connected to those emotions. Tell what exactly you expect your partner to do and avoid vague phrases. For example, say “I will feel loved and needed if you will express your feelings openly to me”.
Attentively listen to the answer of your partner without interrupting them. Repeat the meaning of their words so that you can make sure you understood everything correctly. And then continue talking openly about your feelings and what you want your partner to do.
Sometimes we need to repeat ourselves several times in different ways to be heard and understood. And that’s okay. People around us have their own thought, desires, and beliefs. So they can argue about the importance of our feelings because their own emotions are more important to them. Be ready for this and keep proving your point.
Don’t get upset if you can’t express your feelings from the first try. It takes months to understand your emotions and desires, create and hold your boundaries and self-importance during the therapy. So it might take longer if you do it yourself.
Give yourself time and focus on small achievements. Praise yourself and be proud of the work you’re doing. By acknowledging your success you will increase your self-esteem.