Updated on 20/03/2021: Changed the layout and added tags
Fear of judgement in expressing emotions is a very common stance which holds us back from having an honest conversation with others and sometimes even ourselves.
There are two sides to this conversation. The person opening up and the other listening.
Going from empathic distress to compassion
In my experience, it’s all too common to feel responsible for someone else’s feelings with a natural drive to soothe them and even try to offer solutions. This is the result of our human capacity for empathy. It’s more like over empathising, though. However, instead, I wish we come to a place of being present for the other person and hearing them in the understanding that having emotions is part of being human and it is OK. There is nothing to fix about feelings. It is perfectly OK to have feelings and express them. You have permission to feel and express yourself.
When someone is sharing their emotions with you, all they need is to be heard and acknowledged and someone to sit with. You are not responsible for someone else’s feelings and you don’t need to fix them. Start listening, thanking the person for sharing. Sit with them. If you want, you can ask what they need. Also, provided you have consent, you can ask further questions to explore the emotional landscape and inner workings of the other person.
Asking for safe space
When you are sharing your emotions it’s OK that they are illogical and you might not be able to explain them. It is safe for you to ask the other person to hold space for you and just be there.
I give you permission to express your emotions and accept them. They are what they are. You feel how you feel.
Bringing it together
Interacting in the way I described above, with each person understanding their part in those conversations, we can develop towards feeling safe expressing our emotions and putting the fear of judgment to rest.