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Processing Your Feelings When You Can’t Talk About Them

Sometimes, we don’t want to talk about how we’re feeling. Maybe we can’t find the words to express our emotions. Maybe they’re too overwhelming. Maybe we’re too exhausted. Maybe we just can’t pinpoint what’s really going on.

Either way, we’re flooded with feelings (and likely a flurry of thoughts), and we need some healthy ways to cope.

That’s when we can turn to tools that are more visceral and body based. That’s when we can turn on some music and simply move in any way that feels natural in that moment, giving ourselves unconditional permission to let go.

That’s when we can sit and ride out the wave, tuning in, listening to our inner experience, noticing the sensations throughout our bodies. That’s when we can maintain a curious mindset, gently exploring, what am I experiencing? where is this emotion occurring in my body? where is it traveling to right now? is it moving slowly or quickly? where does it want to go? 

That’s when we can splatter paint on a canvas or scribble furiously on a piece of paper, oblivious to the final product because we’re too focused on releasing what’s inside.

That’s when we can put our hands over our heart, a compassionate gesture that communicates, I am here for you and whatever is going on. 

That’s when we can practice progressive muscle relaxation, tightening our muscles and slowly releasing them, zeroing in on the tension and relinquishing it. That’s when we can connect to our bodies by practicing gentle, nurturing yoga, or by doing our favorite stretches, almost unloosening the emotions and letting them move around.

That’s when we can ask a loved one for a long hug, or wrap our arms around ourselves.

That’s when we can try a soothing guided meditation that connects to our soul (such as one of these practices from Tara Brach).

That’s when we might need to feel rooted and centered and grounded, so we literally do that: We take a seat with our feet on the ground and practice a 1-minute grounding meditation in a natural environment—the beach, a park, a field, your backyard (whatever is available to you at the time).

You don’t need to talk about your feelings (or journal about the pain) to effectively process what’s happening if you’re not ready, if you don’t want to, if it doesn’t feel right. There are plenty of other helpful, supportive coping strategies you can choose from.

That’s really the key of healthy coping: knowing what you need at the time. Of course, we might try one tool and then realize it’s not for us, and that’s OK, too. It’s part of the process. The key resides in the practice, in exploring, in the doing.

When you’re feeling overwhelmed, know that it will pass. Know that you can be there for yourself in various powerful, profound ways that speak to you on a soul level, whether you’re ready to talk about what’s going on or not.

Photo by Mehdi-Thomas BOUTDARINE on Unsplash

Processing Your Feelings When You Can’t Talk About Them

Margarita Tartakovsky, MS

Margarita is an associate editor at She writes about everything from taking compassionate care of yourself at any weight, shape, and size, to coping healthfully with difficult emotions. Her goal is to give readers practical, empowering tips to better their lives, and to remind you that whatever you're struggling with, you're never, ever alone.

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APA Reference
Tartakovsky, M. (2019). Processing Your Feelings When You Can’t Talk About Them. Psych Central. Retrieved on April 7, 2020, from


Last updated: 16 Sep 2019
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