Expressing emotions can feel very threatening for many people. They might believe:
- they will be attacked back,
- that it is a weakness,
- that the relationship is more important,
- that their emotions are not important,
- that it could open the floodgates and the tears will never stop,
- that it is easier and safer to please people,
- that they are disconnected from their feelings and genuinely can’t access them.
Whatever the reason important emotions are not being shared but rather avoided, pushed down, ignore and deflected with communication becoming minimal. This means valuable information is missing from the communication and resentments are being banked and going toxic with time.
Even if these emotions are expressed they can be received very poorly because the receiver might:
- feel blamed for this hurt and start defending,
- try to fix it immediately without giving it time to be felt,
- feel rejected and criticised for not doing enough,
- feel their feelings are not being considered saying “What about me”
- take responsibility for the others feelings rather than listen and empathise.
How do we remedy this?
- The first step is to change your beliefs. Set up a belief that sharing any emotions is an opportunity to be more understanding, more intimate and safe creating a more loving relationship. You will quickly learn that emotions process through us like waves preferring an easy flowing passage allowing us to return to happiness swiftly. Any resistance will make them persist and turn into bigger dramas or hide in toxic resentment.
- Offer a safe place to share these feelings. It might be a good idea to ask permission when would be a good time to share your feelings or even invite your partner to share their feelings. Once this is agreed then it is important not to judge your partners feelings. Don’t say “how could you be sad about that”, “you don’t need to feel that way”,” that doesn’t make sense”. Rather say “I can see that you are hurt”, “please help me to understand better by telling me more”, “that must have been hard for you”.
- Create space and feel the silence. This is simply remembering to breathe after something is shared rather than immediately responding. This allows you to feel what has been said and to embody it instead of just thinking it. Conversations are far more valuable when both feeling and thinking are present.
- Always take responsibility for your own feelings and let your partner take responsibility for theirs. Even if your partner has triggered some feeling in you be aware that it is still your choice to have these feelings and much healthier to own them, explore them, understand them and hopefully lose attachment to them. Feelings won’t change until they are owned.
Now by employing these skills you can both express your hurts, sharing this important information in a safe environment, clearing resentments regularly and keeping an open heart and mind that sustains a happy, loving relationship.