People tell me things they’ve went through in life. I reflect back the variety of emotions and feelings that most likely developed.
Eyes often fill up with tears, “It’s hard to hear what I’ve not been able to describe with words.”
There are a lot of explanations for the inability or discomfort of associating words to how we feel.
If we were raised in a place where others were outspoken, we were told how to feel, what to think, and when to speak. If we showed emotion, we were told, “I’ll give you something to be upset about!”
Other times, we might have been raised in a really quiet place, where everyone seemed distant or withdrawn.
It may have more to do with our present situation than how we were raised, or a combination of several factors might be the best explanation.
Regardless of the cause, these are some of the beliefs at work.
An emotional vocabulary is lacking or underdeveloped. When people don’t have the words to describe how they feel or what they’re thinking, they often don’t say anything. That leads to a whole bunch of other problems.
Discovering the words and finding your voice are important. It’s difficult but worth it!
Some people focus on what they think, “I think we would argue less if we had a budget.”
Others talk about how they feel, “I feel we would argue less if we had a budget.”
People process information differently, especially when it comes to problem-solving. In this case, they agree on a possible solution: a budget. How they approach it, and what they expect from it, may look much different.
We don’t need to define ourselves or others into categories. However, when we’re in tense conversations trying to find solutions, recognizing styles can be really helpful.
As voices escalate, most of us have been told, “You just don’t get it! You don’t understand what it’s like for me!”
The person is frustrated. It’s about them. It’s not about me. If I react to feeling blamed, the tension will rise. My goal is to calm things down so communication continues.
When I don’t know if the person thinks or feels their way through words, I’ll include both options. “What do you think or feel I need to hear so you can have more confidence that I’m understanding?” They seem to stop for a few seconds, and then they start talking again.
I’m not really sure why it’s effective. It may be the “think or feel” option they heard. It may be keeping the conversation focused on them.
I just know it’s really helpful.
When people don’t experience a state of being understood, they are often frustrated. When you can help yourself or others connect with how they most comfortably communicate, you can bring calm to challenging conversations.
When emotions are ignored, dismissed, avoided, or buried, they can make you sick. Disrupted sleep patterns, stomach or chest pain, teeth grinding, elevated blood pressure, and even increased risk to shingles or heart attack are some of the possible symptoms.
We often minimize it by saying, “I’m just stressed out.” In reality, it’s serious stuff when it’s the pattern for months and years.
I’ve had more than a few people say, “I don’t do emotions.” What? Emotions aren’t optional. It’s like saying, “I don’t do breathing.” It doesn’t work that way.
Emotions come with the package of being human. People-pleasing, temper outbursts, tears, over-working, indifference, and isolation are common emotional response behaviors.
For most, it eventually becomes more uncomfortable to avoid emotions than to deal with them. When that happens, it’s time to be intentional to give those emotions a voice.
There are several methods, but one I have found most helpful is writing. Many people just groaned. Relax. You don’t have to let anyone read it. The process, and it’s a process, is more effective when you know it’s just for you.
The goal is to create a direct connection between your hand and your thoughts. Whatever you think, you write. Unedited. Unscripted. Profanity allowed. Whatever is going through your head comes out of the hand onto paper.
I don’t recommend electronic writing simply because it’s too easy to copy, paste, and send. Yikes!
Accept thoughts and feelings for what they are. They exist. They’re present. Let them out of your head or out of the knot in your stomach or heaviness in your chest.
Most things aren’t nearly as scary when you can see them. Get used to acknowledging their existence.
Deal with your emotions so they don’t deal with you.