Sharing feelings can be tricky territory. A loved one recently relayed to me that someone she knows was finally getting in touch with his feelings and then he proceeded to tell her what he was feeling. The problem was, the way in which he shared his feelings triggered guilt in her and she realized he was sharing his feelings to evoke a response that would somehow make him feel better. Basically, he was sharing his feelings without taking responsibility for them and to manipulate her into taking care of him. Basically, when one doesn’t own or understand his/her feelings and then how to use them with positive intention, sharing feelings can turn out to be manipulation, lashing out, a tantrum, retaliation, criticism, judgment, control. In fact withholding feelings can be a form of control (trying to control how another person behaves/thinks toward us).
Identifying and expressing our feelings used to be thought of as the key to healing. To me, it is only a first step. Expressing our feelings is about being vulnerable, telling the truth, owning up to our humanness, moving through fear and channeling energy so that everyone involved benefits. Bottom line no harm is done to anyone. Sometimes when we identify our feelings we’ve only scratched the surface and if we go to express them without understanding them we miss the opportunity to explore ourselves. Our feelings can be used to inform us of so much about ourselves. They are to be honored, embraced and listened to for our own healing.
As an example, my husband has a habit of tightening jars and knobs so tightly that I have to struggle (and possibly risk hurting myself) to open them. One day I found myself listening to water dripping from the bathtub faucet. I checked the knobs and sure enough they were closed tightly. A feeling of upset and anger raced through my body. I was sure that my husband caused the faucet to leak because he broke a seal from tightening the knobs too hard. So what would have been accomplished if I expressed my feeling by stating, “I’m angry that the knobs were so tight and now we have a leak”? Not much more than a transference of anger to my husband for that is what my intention would have been. However, I know from past experiences this does not bring forth healing. I took the anger as a message from myself about myself, my needs and my general state. Instead, I asked myself several questions about my feelings.
1. Was my husband’s actions done intentionally to hurt me?
2. What am I really upset about in my life that would have me react this way?
3. What reality haven’t I accepted?
4. What need do I have that is not being met?
5. What do I want for myself?
6. Is there a request I need to make of my husband or someone else?
7. What do I need to do for myself to ensure my needs are met?
Here are my answers:
1. No, my husband did not intentionally do this to hurt me so my anger really has very little to do with him.
2. What am I really upset about in my life that would have me react this way? I am way too busy and have been feeling more stressed than usual. I haven’t taken enough time to nurture myself and I don’t feel good about that.
3. What realities haven’t I accepted? That my husband has an unconscious habit of tightening things and that I create the stress in my life.
4. What need do I have that is not being met? I need more self-nurturing
5. What do I want for myself? A less stressful life where I have more energy and positive feelings.
6. Is there a request I need to make of my husband or someone else? I might ask him to plan a weekend getaway with me.
7. What do I need to do for myself? Make some self-nurturing choices. Take a day off. Schedule a massage. Go workout.
After going through this Q&A process, I had more to share with my husband that sounded something like: “I had a realization that I am more stressed than normal and I know this because little things are bothering me. I am going to be scheduling a massage for myself and would like to plan a weekend away with you to restore my energy and raise my feelings of happiness. Would that be ok with you?”
Oh, and by the way, it turned out that the faucet leaking had nothing to do with how tight the knobs were.
People say hurtful things when they don’t know how to get their own needs met. I recommend taking some time with your feelings and allow them to inform you about your truth and you’re your needs are. The key to sharing feelings is first knowing the source of the feeling and then asking oneself what is the need that hasn’t been met. If we all start taking responsibility for getting our needs met, we can stop the manipulation, control and fear based automatic strategies that in the end wear us out until we understand what’s really going on and surrender to our truth. Then with honoring our feelings we can all live more joyously.
Laura Rubinstein, Certified Hypnotherapist and Master Leadership Coach and founder of http://www.womeninjoy.com inspires women through her group presentations and tools to create joy in their lives and harmony and passion in their relationships. For relationship enrichment nuggets her free Relationship Transformation starter kit visit www.WomenInJoyClub.com.
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