Let’s Talk About Feelings – Phrasal Verbs for Emotional Problems

emotionsEverybody hurts but these phrasal verbs will help you express your feelings more easily. In fact, with these phrases you’ll be able to lie down on the couch and talk about your childhood, your relationship troubles, your mortal fear of bathtub rubber ducks, or any other causes of mental discomfort in no time! Paging Dr. Freud!

Open up to/ – to express one’s feelings/thoughts without fear or inhibition

  • My girlfriend always takes a while to open up to me when she’s upset. She never tells me what is bothering her right away.

Note: We often see this phrasal verb in another context, usually as a command from the police in movies, where “open up!” means “open the door.” [Notice that we do not use “to” in this case.]

  • This is the police! Open up, or we’ll break down the door!

Let … Go/ – to release negative emotions/feelings or to allow them to dissipate or disappear

  • I’ve been angry with him so long that it’s really difficult to let go of the anger and see him as just another person.

Note: This is another verb that often appears as a command, usually in its separated form, as in the example below.

  • Just let it go. You can’t keep hating her forever because she wore the same dress to the party that you did!

Bottle … Up/ – To hold (usually negative) emotions inside without expressing them or releasing them in another way

  • He always bottles up his anger at work because he’s afraid of his boss but eventually he explodes at his wife and kids. It’s really unhealthy for him, and unfair to the family.

Note: This verb usually has the added meaning that when the emotions are “bottled up,” internal pressure and stress increases and eventually explodes, like in the example above.

Work … out/ – To discuss a problem or situation with someone in order to resolve problems or find a solution

  • Every time I think we’ve worked out her jealousy problems, she suddenly accuses me of having an affair with a co-worker!

Note: This verb can apply to any problem or situation, it’s not always about emotions!

  • We worked out a way to finish the project before the final deadline, but it won’t be easy.

Want to learn more beyond phrasal verbs for emotional problems? Don’t forget to visit our main phrasal verbs page for more practice!