Just as you have choices about how to interpret an event, you also have options about how to express those feelings you experience. Often we limit the range of our expressive options by erroneously believing that there are only two options: either directly expressing them to someone else (e.g., in a personal confrontation), or “swallowing” the feelings and keeping them to ourselves. In actuality, there are many ways to respond to your feelings and express yourself. To some extent, you express a feeling any time your behavior is influenced by that feeling, but the way you express that feeling, and the intensity of that expression can vary widely. This is where decision-making comes in. First, consider what your options are. For example, if a close friend is planning to move away, you may feel very sad about that. You have numerous options here. For example, you can tell your friend how much you will miss him/her. Also, you can make a special effort to spend more time with him/her. These options may be painful at the time, but they give you the opportunity to express your feelings to your friend. On the other hand, you can avoid the friend until he/she leaves town so you won’t have to say good-bye. Or you can stay busy making other friends so you won’t miss this particular friend as much after he/she leaves. These choices may allow you to postpone or avoid painful feelings at the time, but they do not provide the opportunity for closure with your friend. The point is that you have options, and it’s your decision. Here are some useful questions to consider when deciding how to respond to your feelings:
- Does the intensity of my feelings match the situation?
- Do I have several feelings that I need to pay attention to?
- What interpretations or judgments am I making about this event?
- What are my options for expressing my feelings?
- What are the consequences of each option for me?
- What are the consequences of each option for others?
- What result am I hoping for?
- What do I want to do?
- What if I do nothing?
Even doing something like taking a deep breath or going for a walk to think about it can be a way of responding to your feelings. Remember that you have many options when it comes to expressing emotions. http://www.counselingcenter.illinois.edu/self-help-brochures/self-awarenessself-care/experiencing-and-expressing-emotions/
The best and most beautiful things
in the world cannot be seen or even touched.
They must be felt with the heart.
Feelings are an important part of you. In order to live fully and effectively, you need many sources of information (e.g., your senses, your thoughts, your perceptions) to guide you, motivate you, and help you make sense of things. Your emotions provide one such source. Often, there is a strong relationship between the events in your life and your feelings–for example, to feel sadness in response to loss, or to feel happiness in response to something desirable. Feelings may also be related to past events or even to expectations of the future. For example, sorrow about a recent loss may evoke sadness from past losses. These feelings can be an important source of information as well. Rather than ignore or exaggerate your feelings, it is helpful to be able to take your feelings as they are, accept them, think about them, and learn from them. When you are feeling something consider asking yourself the following kinds of questions:
What is this feeling?
What is this feeling telling me about this situation?
Why has this feeling come up right now?
Raise your words, not voice.
It is rain that grows
flowers not thunder.
Your interpretations can be made so rapidly and so automatically that you may not realize they are happening. When your emotional reaction is disproportionate to the event, it is likely due to your rapid, undetected interpretation of that event, more than to the event itself. In effect, your emotions can be a valuable signal to you that you may need to re-examine your interpretation. Here are some common examples of self-defeating ways people think about and interpret the events of their lives:
Dichotomous thinking: interpreting events in extremes, in “all or nothing” ways (e.g., depicting events as wonderful or terrible, with no recognition of the grey areas in between).
Excessive personalization: automatically concluding that another’s behavior or mood is in direct response to you (e.g., “She’s in a bad mood. I must have done something wrong.”.
Over-generalization: seeing an event as having more impact, in more areas of your life, than it truly does.
Filtering: magnifying negative events in your life and discounting positive ones.
Emotional reasoning: concluding that what you feel must be the truth (e.g., if you feel stupid, you must be stupid).
Learn to recognize any tendencies you may have to distort events through interpretational styles like these, and then practice choosing and committing to more valid interpretations. The resulting emotions will be more accurate reflections of the events in your life. http://www.counselingcenter.illinois.edu/self-help-brochures/self-awarenessself-care/experiencing-and-expressing-emotions/
I am, indeed, a king,
because I know how
to rule myself.
The relationships between the events in your life and your feelings are going to be less clear if you have difficulty identifying what you are feeling. Naturally, there are times when you are unable to precisely name what you feel. Identifying your feelings may require you to take time to focus on yourself and your feelings. If you find it difficult to notice or name what you are feeling, it may require that you pay attention to your body. Most feelings are experienced in the body. For example, fear may show up as a knot in your stomach or a tightness in your throat. Our bodies are all different, so you will have to pay attention to your body and not just rely on others experiences. Feelings are also connected to your behavior. If you aren’t sure how you feel, but you realize that you are acting in a way that sends a clear message to others, you may be able to infer what you are feeling from your behavior. For example, if you have an angry facial expression or tone of voice when you are talking with a particular friend, it may be that you are angry or frustrated with that person without recognizing it. Making the connection between life’s events and your feelings is very useful. Continuing with this same example, once you recognize your feelings, you may then more clearly understand and articulate your concerns with your friend. Often your feelings are related to your interpretations of events more than to the events themselves. While it is natural to think that you are responding only to the events of your life, in fact you make interpretations or judgments of these events, and these interpretations play a key role in your emotional responses. When you stop to think about it, each event could yield a variety of emotional responses; your interpretation of the event helps link a particular emotional response to that event. http://www.counselingcenter.illinois.edu/self-help-brochures/self-awarenessself-care/experiencing-and-expressing-emotions/
We cannot tell what may happen
to us in the strange medley of life.
But we can decide what happens in us;
how we can take it, what we do with it;
and that is what really counts in the end.
Joseph Fort Newton
Anger is a secondary emotion, meaning that behind anger is another root emotion, such as pain, humiliation or fear. Thus, before something triggers a loss of control due to anger, you are already setting the stage for that loss of control by letting yourself feel all those other negative, primary emotions. For instance, you may feel humiliation because your wife constantly puts you down in small ways, or you may fear for your job because your boss criticizes you for not getting to work on time. Except in the case of people with certain kinds of psychiatric problems, loss of control is usually triggered by a specific event. If the build-up wasn’t present, the trigger may not actually lead to a loss of control. For instance, if your wife never puts you down but does so on one isolated occasion, or your boss never harps on you for getting to work late except on one particular day when you are supposed to prepare for a big presentation, you’re likely to ignore the trigger and remain in control. But when other primary emotions from build-up are already present, the trigger can set off a loss of control. When you’ve finally had enough, your blood pressure and heart rate rise and your body releases fight-or-flight hormones. This is when you’ve actually lost all control. You may scream, insult and even hit. People who lose control often do and say things that they later regret, but they can’t help themselves from doing and saying those things at this stage because they are not thinking clearly. That lack of clarity is a result of the loss of control. By Cynthia Gomez, http://www.ehow.com/list_6767160_three-stages-being-out-control.html#ixzz27DkNIOmb
It is wise to direct
your anger towards
problems, not people;
to focus your energies
on answers; not excuses.
William Arthur Ward
In studies of more than 2,000 school-aged children, Dr. Amanda Rose of the University of Missouri has discovered boys and girls are fundamentally different when it comes to talking about their feelings. While girls love nothing more than to yap at length about what’s bothering them, boys tend to keep quiet — and not because they’re embarrassed; they just see it as a waste of time. “For years, popular psychologists have insisted boys and men would like to talk about their problems, but are held back by fears of embarrassment or appearing weak,” Rose says in a statement. “However, when we asked young people how talking about their problems would make them feel, boys didn’t express angst or distress about discussing problems any more than girls. Instead, boys’ responses suggest they just don’t see talking about problems to be a particularly useful activity.” That’s fine for school-aged boys, but what about men who know better? Rose suggests their early aversion to talking about their feelings is something they carry with them into manhood: “Men may be more likely to think talking about problems will make the problems feel bigger and engaging in different activities will take their minds off of the problem. Men may just not be coming from the same place as their partners.” So if they’re not gushing about their problems to their friends and family like we do, how do men cope with their feelings? By keeping busy with activities that keep their mind off things, says Rose. Maybe this explains why your man spends so much time in his shop/garage/man cave. It’s something positive men might be onto — it seems many of us women might actually be over-talking our feelings and making ourselves kind of crazy in the process. Females who talk their problems out too often are in danger of engaging in “excessive problem talk,” which causes stress and anxiety. It’s a classic case of completely obsessing over something that’s not that big of deal and then inevitably blowing it out of proportion. No matter what, though, communication is key to any relationship and sharing feelings with your spouse, family and friends is usually a positive thing. Just remember to be respectful of other communication styles. By Martha Edwards http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2011/09/06/men-talking-relationships_n_950218.html
Don’t allow your mind
to tell your heart
what to do.The mind
gives up easily.
Self-kindness: Self-compassion entails being warm and understanding toward ourselves when we suffer, fail, or feel inadequate, rather than ignoring our pain or flagellating ourselves with self-criticism. Self-compassionate people recognize that being imperfect, failing, and experiencing life difficulties is inevitable, so they tend to be gentle with themselves when confronted with painful experiences rather than getting angry when life falls short of set ideals. People cannot always be or get exactly what they want. When this reality is denied or fought against suffering increases in the form of stress, frustration and self-criticism. Common humanity: Frustration at not having things exactly as we want is often accompanied by an irrational but pervasive sense of isolation – as if “I” were the only person suffering or making mistakes. All humans suffer, however. The very definition of being “human” means that one is mortal, vulnerable and imperfect. Therefore, self-compassion involves recognizing that suffering and personal inadequacy is part of the shared human experience – something that we all go through rather than being something that happens to “me” alone. It also means recognizing that personal thoughts, feelings and actions are impacted by “external” factors such as parenting history, culture, genetic and environmental conditions, as well as the behavior and expectations of others. Many aspects of ourselves and the circumstances of our lives are not of our choosing, but instead stem from innumerable factors (genetic and/or environmental) that we have little control over. By recognizing our essential interdependence, therefore, failings and life difficulties do not have to be taken so personally, but can be acknowledged with non-judgmental compassion and understanding. Mindfulness: Self-compassion also requires taking a balanced approach to our negative emotions so that feelings are neither suppressed nor exaggerated. This equilibrated stance stems from the process of relating personal experiences to those of others who are also suffering, thus putting our own situation into a larger perspective. It also stems from the willingness to observe our negative thoughts and emotions with openness and clarity, so that they are held in mindful awareness. Mindfulness is a non-judgmental, receptive mind state in which one observes thoughts and feelings as they are, without trying to suppress or deny them. We cannot ignore our pain and feel compassion for it at the same time. At the same time, mindfulness requires that we not be “over-identified” with thoughts and feelings, so that we are caught up and swept away by negative reactivity. From “Overcoming Shame: The Powerful Benefits of a Little Self-Love” by Emma Seppala, Ph.D http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/feeling-it/201211/overcoming-shame-the-powerfulbenefits-little-self-love
You have been taught
that there is something
wrong with you
and that you are imperfect,
but there isn’t
and you’re not.
Don’t allow perfectionism to stifle curiosity. Imperfection is a human privilege. Remember anything worth doing is worth doing badly, which encourages risk taking. Robertson Davies reminds us that since medieval times there has been a saying in Latin, “Fortune favors the bold.” Anxiety is always about prematurely anticipating the future with a great deal of dread. So many people combat the dread by being determined to be in control as much as possible. There are many examples of anxiety & control: a boss who micro manages or a parent who always knows what’s best for their kid (which cheats kids out of priceless opportunities for mistakes); the partner who has to know every detail of where their significant other is and makes so many phone calls the other partner starts turning off the cell phone because they no longer find the calls sweet but badgering. Constant hall monitoring is not loving, in truth it is about the dread inherent in anxiety and keeping a lid on with control. Control is a central part of codependency in relationships. It’s better to control your own anxiety than to control other people. When fear tugs at you to leap in the future, try using your five senses to bring you in the more soothing present. Anxiety is about feeling bad in the past or being scared of the future. Anxiety means the present is usually missing. From “Anxiety, Control & Codependency” by Rhoda Mills Sommer, L.C.S.W. http://therapyideas.net/anxiety.htm
Control is never achieved
when sought after directly.
It is the surprising
outcome of letting go.
James Arthur Ray
The other night while at dinner with some friends (all married or with someone) something occurred that is so common I barely took notice of it. One of the women popped up and went to the restroom and four other women jumped up and went with her. We’ve seen this a million times. They go off to the restroom, fix their hair, adjust something and talk about everything. If men meet up in the restroom, if they speak at all, it would be a very neutral topic like golf or baseball. I think to myself that if a man got up and went to the restroom, no one would go with him. This is of course a generalization, but in this small vignette it tells the story of the difference between men and women. So why do men have such a difficult time with intimacy? The answer is that most men are taught from an early age to be competitive, that feelings are a sign of weakness and to avoid vulnerability and dependency at all costs. The ideal for men is fierce independence and strength. Herb Goldberg writes in The Hazards of Being Male that 85 percent of the men in this country have no friends. We see beer ads that proffer an image of the American male as having tons of friends but nothing could be further from the truth. According to Goldberg men have “buddies” like golf or bowling buddies but not real friends because they don’t open up. Intimacy is based on being able to show ourselves to another person, warts and all. Men are very reluctant to do this because they fear that they might be judged or put down. Dr. Kal Heller, a licensed psychologist specializing in child and family services, writes that “Intimacy is very risky because it requires making such a serious commitment to the relationship that each person will experience a sense of dependency on the other. To admit to needing someone else is to risk loss and deep hurt.” This is difficult for all of us. Dependency is a negative concept in our society. Men, especially, are taught to strive for independence. Like that ad says, “Never let them see you sweat.” This could be our national anthem. Some of the messages men get early on are: “Big boys don’t cry”, “No pain no gain; Tough it out”, “Only sissies get hurt feelings”, “It’s a sign of weakness to let people know you’re hurting.” So many men lead lives of quiet desperation, never letting anyone in or themselves out. For men to take a look at who they really are and allow their essence to be known are actually far stronger than the burly silent types who live their lives in utter isolation. By Dr. Bill Cloke http://www.care2.com/greenliving/why-men-have-trouble-with-intimacy.html
in life than
So, what causes men to move on so quickly from a breakup with you to the arms of another woman? You could easily believe the rapidity of his action indicates he isn’t at all broken up about your breakup, that he had no deep feelings for you and he cavalierly is humming to himself, “Another One Bites The Dust.” They would, however, be completely wrong. You see, when men invest emotionally in a relationship, their feelings run as deeply as yours, whether they show it or now. So, when their relationship crumbles, it causes a huge emotional void. …men don’t have the social support network to buoy them up in their time of pain and sadness. If they thought that kind of behavior would be acceptable, they might engage in it. But men are all too aware that stoicism, soldiering on, and “walking it off” are fundamental guidelines in the male handbook… He’s hurting, but he can’t tell anyone. And grieving and wallowing in private are likely to only lead to consuming mass quantities of Jim Beam to dull his pain. Thus, he realizes, with such limited options available, he must speedily move to contain his about-to-erupt emotions by filling the vacuum created by the demise of his previous relationship. How does he do this? By seeking out someone else to focus his attention on, both emotionally and sexually. And, the sooner, the better, for it is this new woman who heals his wounds by allowing him to step back into the comfortable, acceptable space of being the tough, unruffled man that he is supposed to be. She facilitates his return to a state of being where he can once again feel masculine and in control of himself and his emotions. Order is restored and all is right with the world again. The speed in which a man moves from a bitter breakup to a new amorous attachment is directly proportional to the pain he’s feeling — the deeper the hurt, the quicker the hookup. So if you see your ex in the arms of another within days of your breakup, don’t write him off as a horny, uncaring, slime-bucket. Instead, recognize that he was deeply hurt by the end of your relationship and is doing the best he can to mend his broken heart. Taken from an article by David M. Matthews, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/05/rebound-relationship-why-_n_1569001.html
doesn’t always mean
you are weak;
sometimes it means
that you are
to let go.