I’m fine…I’m good…everything is OK.

These are some of the typical responses we give when someone asks how we’re doing, regardless of how we are actually feeling. When we are truly frustrated, angry, sad, or even depressed, we tend to deny those feelings, both to ourselves and to others.

When you lost that baseball game, your dad may have told you to “suck it up” and try harder next time. Maybe your well-meaning best friend warned you against having a heart-to-heart with your beau, lest you push him away.

Although you were socialized to believe that you are a burden, weak, or a downer for expressing your feelings, the truth is that talking it out is the first step towards boosting your mood. Here are five reasons why speaking up is the key to your emotional well-being.

1. You need support from your friends.

When you are feeling low, the last thing you want to do is go out dancing at that new club with your friends. You avoid being social, fearing that you’ll have to lie again when someone asks you how you’re doing. Stop lying and tell them how you really feel! They are your friends, and they want to be there for you. An added benefit is that getting out and having fun may get you out of your emotional rut.

2. Help yourself, help someone else.

Everyone experiences setbacks and challenges that lead to feelings of defeat and discouragement. In fact, someone you know may be going though something tough and also need a shoulder to lean on. When you share your feelings, you invite others to share theirs. You may find yourself giving good advice to a friend or family member, giving you the confidence and motivation to work through your own issues.

3. Improve your relationship.

Communication is one of the keys to a lasting, healthy relationship. Failing to share your feelings with the one you love is a surefire way to alienate your partner. When you enter a relationship, magical thinking often comes into play where you assume that the other person should know how you’re feeling because they should know you. Your partner may be many things, but a mind reader he is not. If you are not happy with an aspect of your relationship, you must speak up about it. Not only will it liberate you, it will also give the other person a chance to work on the problem with you to improve the relationship.

4. Your health depends on it.

Studies show that bottling up your emotions can have negative effects on your physical health. Wondering why you can’t sleep, eat, or have nagging headaches? It could be because you are stuffing your feelings. In addition to perpetuating your emotional turmoil, keeping mum about your misery can also make you sick. If you have ruled out serious health conditions, you may want to consider opening up to a close friend or loved one about your unhappiness. It could reverse some of those physical symptoms you’ve been having.

5. You deserve to be happy.

Positive psychology tells us so. But, on a practical level, you really do deserve the same happiness and contentment that others have. Why? Because you are alive! You can make an impact on others’ lives, whether it is on a global scale, in your community, or in the small circle of your family and friends. Stifling your feelings not only robs you of your right to happiness, it also keeps others from having the opportunity to experience the benefit of having a relationship with the real you. Take control of your emotions and share your feelings with someone today!

Featured photo credit: ira-5 via flickr.com

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