Overcoming the fear of showing emotions

art by Zeng Fanzhi

Quite a number of us are struggling with the intense fear of showing or expressing the way we truly feel for different reasons. In our romantic relationships we find it difficult to let our partners know that they have hurt our feelings because we fear being misunderstood, among our friends we cannot express our disappointment or shame because we are scared of being ridiculed, at work we are bossy and rude because we fear that if our colleagues see our vulnerable side they will take us for granted; and other times, we cannot let ourselves express how we really feel because we have been taught that the expression of emotions is a sign of weakness.

What we do not realize is that expressing how we honestly feel about events that have happened in our lives is a part of dealing with them, and the longer we avoid processing these tough emotions to understand and master them, the more detached or numb we become.

How then does one learn to better express their feelings?

The first step to learning how to express your emotions better is to confront them. In confronting them, you must question your fear. You cannot see clearly when your sight is blinded by fear so you must answer the question:

“Why am I scared of expressing my emotions?”

Answering this question after a moment of deep, fearless and honest thinking will open up old wounds and will help you see clearly how certain irrational beliefs that were either taught or picked up over the years have resulted in your unhealthy relationship with your feelings. With the insight gained, it is only appropriate that you accept, mourn and forgive the painful experiences that made you, the person you became because of that pain and yourself for the people you have hurt on the way while living with that pain.

Forgiveness of your past self is like releasing heavy weights that have been tied to your feet allowing you to soar to your higher and better self.

Forgiveness allows for change. You have made the decision to no longer run from the way you feel and have gained the courage to face these intense emotions, experience them and process them mentally. Now, you will need the help of other people to learn how to comfortably communicate these emotions to other people.

Among your friends, colleagues or acquaintances, there are humans that you feel you can be vulnerable around and you are certain that they will be understanding, empathetic and kind enough to allow you open up about your feelings without making you feel small, afraid or ashamed. Find these people and surround yourself with them and more humans like them. This will make you feel safe, give you room to truly explore your emotions and learn healthier ways of processing them.

If you do not have such humans in your lives, here are a few suggestions:

Words As Therapy is a mental health gathering which takes place on the last Wednesday of every month at the Revolving Art Incubator, 2nd Floor, Silverbird Galleria, Victoria Island. We discuss personal issues ranging from body image issues, sexuality, communication etc. Learn more here

OutSpoken is a social gathering which also takes place at the Revolving Art Incubator on Thursdays, bi-weekly . We discuss social issues ranging from gender roles, human relationships and the society at large with spoken word performances, poetry reading etc. Learn more here

Mentally Aware is a mental health organisation with counselors available for free counselling sessions. Learn more here

If you prefer a private psychotherapy session to help you work through your past experiences, to teach you better and healthier coping methods and help you get back in touch with your emotions, you can book a session with me here.



musings of a 29 year old woman living and working in Lagos, Nigeria.

Love podcasts or audiobooks? Learn on the go with our new app.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Amanda Iheme

Amanda Iheme

musings of a 29 year old woman living and working in Lagos, Nigeria.