You will likely encounter many emotions and high levels of stress throughout your recovery journey. While you may have learned various coping mechanisms to manage these feelings, sometimes all you need to do is talk about them.

To talk about your emotions appropriately, you need to have effective communication skills and understand how to approach these conversations.

Who Can You Talk To?

One of the first steps is determining who you can talk to. You may want to talk with someone and seek advice but not feel you have anyone you can reach out to.

Think about who you have available within your current support network. Through your friends and family, you may think of someone who would be willing to listen and whom you trust to seek advice. You may also consider the people in your support groups. As they are going through similar obstacles, they can likely provide a useful viewpoint on your situation and help you process your emotions.

If you find that you are currently lacking support from others, consider reaching out to your treatment team or case manager for help.

Approaching the Conversation

It can be scary to open up about your feelings and discuss them on a deep level with another individual. Fortunately, if you are talking with someone you can trust, the worries you have about being vulnerable will decrease as the conversations continue.

First, let them know how you are feeling. Be honest in your statements and listen to the responses they give you. Remember that a conversation is not only one individual talking, but a mutual dialogue between two people. Each person needs a space to listen as well as to talk.

If talking with a friend or family member, they may open up about their feelings as well. Give them the space to do so, creating a safe environment for both of you. You may find that you are not alone in your feelings and can help each other to process the negative emotions that are taking a toll on your lives.

Effective Communication Strategies

How can you ensure you are appropriately communicating your feelings? Using the following communication skills can help you communicate in a way that is comfortable for you and the other individuals involved.


A key component of effective communication is being a good listener. As previously stated, a conversation requires listening from both ends.

Many people feel that they are good listeners but don’t fully understand what the other person is saying. Being an active listener goes a long way, showing that you are fully present in the conversation.

Notice Body Language

When you are communicating with others, it is important to be aware of their body language. This is especially true when you are communicating feelings, as these conversations can often cause heightened emotions in the present.

As we engage in conversation, our bodies naturally follow a series of patterns, displaying our feelings through our actions. The following actions are important to recognize:

  • Hand movements: These may be positive or negative, depending on the movements. If an individual keeps their arms folded, they may be feeling vulnerable or closed off. Folded arms can sometimes convey a lack of interest or receptivity to what another person is saying. If someone talks with their hands, they may seem more engaged in the conversation.
  • Smiling: Smiling can be seen as an act of interest or as a form of a courteous greeting.
  • Blank face: If the other individual has a blank face, they may be uninterested in the conversation or wish to keep their distance.
  • Parting of lips: This can show surprise or disagreement.
  • Head tilts: Tilting the head back can be seen as a sign of arrogance or a lack of care towards the conversation.
  • Lip compression: Tightly closed lips often signal that the individual is uncomfortable with the conversation or disagrees with a statement.

These interpretations of body language are not always accurate. They are often involved when a high level of disinterest is shown, but it is important to remember that different people have different personalities and levels of emotiveness in conversation.

If you attempt to discuss your feelings with a friend or acquaintance and see these reactions, it may be a sign that you are overstepping your boundaries with the conversation. This is especially true if they are usually expressive but, during the conversation, develop closed-off body language, a blank face, and tightly closed lips.

Processing Emotions

To communicate your emotions and seek support, you often have to understand what it is that you are feeling. This can be hard to do when you are struggling with many emotions and your senses are overloaded. Try to calm down and reach a meditative state. Then, consider the key emotions you are feeling and how you might appropriately express them.

Because others cannot feel the same emotions that you are feeling, it is essential to be detailed in your conversation. Try to identify the emotion, identify the source of the emotion, and create a connection between the two. If you have the emotion and source identified, conversing with a trusted individual may help you discover how the two are connected, potentially providing you with a solution to overcome the emotion or deal with it in a healthier way.

During any conversation, it is important to be mindful of the other individual involved. If they show any signs of discomfort, refrain from continuing on the same topic. Approach someone comfortable talking about feelings who will provide you with advice and support.

As emotions arise through your recovery journey, you may develop the desire to discuss them with others in your support system. Having conversations about your feelings is not always easy. These conversations require effective communication skills. By respecting the boundaries of others and ensuring that you are actively listening and paying attention to body language, you can get a feel for the other individual’s level of comfort within the conversation. Being aware of your feelings and what potentially caused them can help the conversation run smoothly, as the other individual is not aware of your feelings. This avoids the assumption that the other individual understands your feelings and creates a blank space to begin emotional processing. To learn more about effective communication skills and apply them to discussions of your feelings in recovery, reach out to Dream Recovery at (949) 732-1960.

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