Focus on Feelings to Improve Your Relationship

P475692725ublished by Barbara Markway, Ph.D. in Living the Questions
Feelings always make sense, if you understand them fully. Unfortunately, couples can experience conflict when dealing with feelings. Partners don’t understand each other, distort each other’s motives, or disengage and withdraw. Here are some tips to help you get past the distortions and feel close again.
Know Your Feared Feelings
It’s natural to have certain feelings that take more work to understand, and may even be a little threatening. Take Jan, for example. Jan feels angry at Jim, but she’s fearful of her own Watch for Filters of Past Experience
Everyone processes feelings through the filters of past experience. For example, if you received hurt and criticism as a child, you may be unable to allow yourself any feelings that you perceive as risky – those that might force you to experience criticism or rejection again. Or, you may feel extremely vulnerable to the slightest complaint from your partner. If these feeling-filters aren’t clear– and they aren’t to most people – the nature and intensity of your reactions can be a mystery, both to yourself and your partner.
Slow Down and Focus.
Allow yourself to focus fully on your feelings. This is often more difficult than it might seem. The frenetic pace of most people’s lives leaves little room for noticing or attending to their feelings. Even more crucial than slowing down your hectic lifestyle is adopting the mind-set that feelings are important, giving yourself permission to notice them, and, most importantly, allowing yourself to have your feelings without judging.
Pay attention to your body
What can you do if you’re not already adept at noticing your feelings? One tip is to pay attention to the sensations in your body. There’s a reason why people talk about „gut feelings.“ Feelings are experienced as physiological events. Only after you notice the physical sensations do you attempt to explain the origin. For example, if you’re taking an exam and you notice your heart racing, you’re likely to label the feeling as „nervousness.“ On the other hand, if you feel your heart racing and you’re in the presence of someone to whom you’re attracted, you might label the feeling as „passion.“ It’s not always immediately clear why people feel the way they do, and some individuals are more adept than others at deciphering their internal codes. But paying attention to your body messages can provide plenty of clues.
Take a chance.
Another way to jump-start your emotional engine is to take a chance and guess what you might be feeling. Sometimes people hate to be pinned down to anything: they don’t want to venture out loud a guess of their feelings, for fear their partners will assume that it’s carved in stone. Once you get past this, forming hypotheses about your internal states can be enormously helpful.
Try feelings on for size.
Let yourself try on different feelings to see how they fit, and remember that feelings can be complex. You may need more than one word to accurately describe your experience. Allow yourself the freedom to play with the words. Your internal voice might sound something like this: „I feel sort of sad, but there’s also something comfortable about the sadness – and the realization that the sadness won’t last forever if I except it and flow with it. I also feel some pride that I’m strong enough to let myself feel the sadness.“
Just start talking.
Another thing that can help some people if they don’t know what they’re feeling is to just start talking: say, „I don’t know what I’m feeling, but…“ It sometimes also helpful to talk about what it feels like not to know what you’re feeling.
Hopefully trying out even a few of these suggestions will help you and your partner feel closer than ever before.
anger, so she may do any number of dances to avoid the full experience of her feelings:
• She might express a lesser feeling of annoyance.
• She might call a friend and complain about Jim, instead of confronting him directly.
• She might provoke him into becoming angry with her, in effect having him express the anger that she feels.
• She might feel sadness instead of her anger.
Jan needs to work on how she deals with anger, so she can experience it and express it more directly, and not let it become between her and Jim.
Watch for Filters of Past Experience
Everyone processes feelings through the filters of past experience. For example, if you received hurt and criticism as a child, you may be unable to allow yourself any feelings that you perceive as risky – those that might force you to experience criticism or rejection again. Or, you may feel extremely vulnerable to the slightest complaint from your partner. If these feeling-filters aren’t clear– and they aren’t to most people – the nature and intensity of your reactions can be a mystery, both to yourself and your partner.
Slow Down and Focus.
Allow yourself to focus fully on your feelings. This is often more difficult than it might seem. The frenetic pace of most people’s lives leaves little room for noticing or attending to their feelings. Even more crucial than slowing down your hectic lifestyle is adopting the mind-set that feelings are important, giving yourself permission to notice them, and, most importantly, allowing yourself to have your feelings without judging.
Pay attention to your body
What can you do if you’re not already adept at noticing your feelings? One tip is to pay attention to the sensations in your body. There’s a reason why people talk about „gut feelings.“ Feelings are experienced as physiological events. Only after you notice the physical sensations do you attempt to explain the origin. For example, if you’re taking an exam and you notice your heart racing, you’re likely to label the feeling as „nervousness.“ On the other hand, if you feel your heart racing and you’re in the presence of someone to whom you’re attracted, you might label the feeling as „passion.“ It’s not always immediately clear why people feel the way they do, and some individuals are more adept than others at deciphering their internal codes. But paying attention to your body messages can provide plenty of clues.
Take a chance.
Another way to jump-start your emotional engine is to take a chance and guess what you might be feeling. Sometimes people hate to be pinned down to anything: they don’t want to venture out loud a guess of their feelings, for fear their partners will assume that it’s carved in stone. Once you get past this, forming hypotheses about your internal states can be enormously helpful.
Try feelings on for size.
Let yourself try on different feelings to see how they fit, and remember that feelings can be complex. You may need more than one word to accurately describe your experience. Allow yourself the freedom to play with the words. Your internal voice might sound something like this: „I feel sort of sad, but there’s also something comfortable about the sadness – and the realization that the sadness won’t last forever if I except it and flow with it. I also feel some pride that I’m strong enough to let myself feel the sadness.“
Just start talking.
Another thing that can help some people if they don’t know what they’re feeling is to just start talking: say, „I don’t know what I’m feeling, but…“ It sometimes also helpful to talk about what it feels like not to know what you’re feeling.
Hopefully trying out even a few of these suggestions will help you and your partner feel closer than ever before.

 

P475692725ublished by Barbara Markway, Ph.D. in Living the Questions
Feelings always make sense, if you understand them fully. Unfortunately, couples can experience conflict when dealing with feelings. Partners don’t understand each other, distort each other’s motives, or disengage and withdraw. Here are some tips to help you get past the distortions and feel close again.
Know Your Feared Feelings
It’s natural to have certain feelings that take more work to understand, and may even be a little threatening. Take Jan, for example. Jan feels angry at Jim, but she’s fearful of her own Watch for Filters of Past Experience
Everyone processes feelings through the filters of past experience. For example, if you received hurt and criticism as a child, you may be unable to allow yourself any feelings that you perceive as risky – those that might force you to experience criticism or rejection again. Or, you may feel extremely vulnerable to the slightest complaint from your partner. If these feeling-filters aren’t clear– and they aren’t to most people – the nature and intensity of your reactions can be a mystery, both to yourself and your partner.
Slow Down and Focus.
Allow yourself to focus fully on your feelings. This is often more difficult than it might seem. The frenetic pace of most people’s lives leaves little room for noticing or attending to their feelings. Even more crucial than slowing down your hectic lifestyle is adopting the mind-set that feelings are important, giving yourself permission to notice them, and, most importantly, allowing yourself to have your feelings without judging.
Pay attention to your body
What can you do if you’re not already adept at noticing your feelings? One tip is to pay attention to the sensations in your body. There’s a reason why people talk about „gut feelings.“ Feelings are experienced as physiological events. Only after you notice the physical sensations do you attempt to explain the origin. For example, if you’re taking an exam and you notice your heart racing, you’re likely to label the feeling as „nervousness.“ On the other hand, if you feel your heart racing and you’re in the presence of someone to whom you’re attracted, you might label the feeling as „passion.“ It’s not always immediately clear why people feel the way they do, and some individuals are more adept than others at deciphering their internal codes. But paying attention to your body messages can provide plenty of clues.
Take a chance.
Another way to jump-start your emotional engine is to take a chance and guess what you might be feeling. Sometimes people hate to be pinned down to anything: they don’t want to venture out loud a guess of their feelings, for fear their partners will assume that it’s carved in stone. Once you get past this, forming hypotheses about your internal states can be enormously helpful.
Try feelings on for size.
Let yourself try on different feelings to see how they fit, and remember that feelings can be complex. You may need more than one word to accurately describe your experience. Allow yourself the freedom to play with the words. Your internal voice might sound something like this: „I feel sort of sad, but there’s also something comfortable about the sadness – and the realization that the sadness won’t last forever if I except it and flow with it. I also feel some pride that I’m strong enough to let myself feel the sadness.“
Just start talking.
Another thing that can help some people if they don’t know what they’re feeling is to just start talking: say, „I don’t know what I’m feeling, but…“ It sometimes also helpful to talk about what it feels like not to know what you’re feeling.
Hopefully trying out even a few of these suggestions will help you and your partner feel closer than ever before.
anger, so she may do any number of dances to avoid the full experience of her feelings:
• She might express a lesser feeling of annoyance.
• She might call a friend and complain about Jim, instead of confronting him directly.
• She might provoke him into becoming angry with her, in effect having him express the anger that she feels.
• She might feel sadness instead of her anger.
Jan needs to work on how she deals with anger, so she can experience it and express it more directly, and not let it become between her and Jim.
Watch for Filters of Past Experience
Everyone processes feelings through the filters of past experience. For example, if you received hurt and criticism as a child, you may be unable to allow yourself any feelings that you perceive as risky – those that might force you to experience criticism or rejection again. Or, you may feel extremely vulnerable to the slightest complaint from your partner. If these feeling-filters aren’t clear– and they aren’t to most people – the nature and intensity of your reactions can be a mystery, both to yourself and your partner.
Slow Down and Focus.
Allow yourself to focus fully on your feelings. This is often more difficult than it might seem. The frenetic pace of most people’s lives leaves little room for noticing or attending to their feelings. Even more crucial than slowing down your hectic lifestyle is adopting the mind-set that feelings are important, giving yourself permission to notice them, and, most importantly, allowing yourself to have your feelings without judging.
Pay attention to your body
What can you do if you’re not already adept at noticing your feelings? One tip is to pay attention to the sensations in your body. There’s a reason why people talk about „gut feelings.“ Feelings are experienced as physiological events. Only after you notice the physical sensations do you attempt to explain the origin. For example, if you’re taking an exam and you notice your heart racing, you’re likely to label the feeling as „nervousness.“ On the other hand, if you feel your heart racing and you’re in the presence of someone to whom you’re attracted, you might label the feeling as „passion.“ It’s not always immediately clear why people feel the way they do, and some individuals are more adept than others at deciphering their internal codes. But paying attention to your body messages can provide plenty of clues.
Take a chance.
Another way to jump-start your emotional engine is to take a chance and guess what you might be feeling. Sometimes people hate to be pinned down to anything: they don’t want to venture out loud a guess of their feelings, for fear their partners will assume that it’s carved in stone. Once you get past this, forming hypotheses about your internal states can be enormously helpful.
Try feelings on for size.
Let yourself try on different feelings to see how they fit, and remember that feelings can be complex. You may need more than one word to accurately describe your experience. Allow yourself the freedom to play with the words. Your internal voice might sound something like this: „I feel sort of sad, but there’s also something comfortable about the sadness – and the realization that the sadness won’t last forever if I except it and flow with it. I also feel some pride that I’m strong enough to let myself feel the sadness.“
Just start talking.
Another thing that can help some people if they don’t know what they’re feeling is to just start talking: say, „I don’t know what I’m feeling, but…“ It sometimes also helpful to talk about what it feels like not to know what you’re feeling.
Hopefully trying out even a few of these suggestions will help you and your partner feel closer than ever before.

 

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