In Live Science this week there is an article titled Couples See Anger But Miss Sadness When Fighting. It goes on to reveal research that suggests that in expressions of anger couples may miss the fact that their partner is also feeling quite sad also. The research also suggested that “this means that if a couple falls into a climate of anger, they tend to continue expressing anger regardless of how they actually feel. It becomes a kind of a trap they cannot escape.”
In my experience there is a lot of truth in this but it breaks down into several areas which are all about how I interact with the world around me and how that, in turn, impacts upon the ones I love.
Let’s be clear and up front about anger. It exists in us all and it is part of the human condition. It also grew to protect us. It is our friend if we treat it with respect and learn that it is a warning that something’s wrong and that we need to take action. The issue that a lot of our clients have is that they have become conditioned through years of acting their anger out in an unhealthy way and now it is a habit.
This brings me to the first connection with anger and other feelings. If I am angry then I tend to only see anger. That’s my view, my map of the world. Since the world is essentially a reflection of
my inner landscape then I am going to see anger where ever I look and especially in my relationships with my partner. It’s me projecting my feelings on to others because that is all I know. So, yes, sadness and a whole range of other feelings get overlooked when I am in conflict.
So, let’s move onto the feelings. A huge number of our clients come to us in one or several of the following states. They are
· Unaware of their own feelings having been suppressing them for so long
· Not practised or good at interpreting other’s feelings
· Not good at expressing feelings
· Completely overwhelmed by their feelings and express them as a cry for help
Given that anger is just one of a range feelings, for me to interact with the world it is vital that I am aware of and able to express my whole range of feelings in a healthy way. In reality, what I do is to suppress my feelings and only express them under pressure and then the way I express them is using them as a weapon to shame and blame others. What I have found out over my life time experience is that suppressing feelings is not big or clever. It is not the heroic act of a Hollywood character that only expresses their feelings under extreme pressure. In fact it gives me the appearance and character of an emotional mute.
Of course, often, the underlying agenda of suppressed feelings is that I am unable to make myself vulnerable to others. Expressing my sadness and my hurt may make me look weak.
This is why we spend specific time giving our clients a vocabulary for feelings and working with them to develop the ability to express feelings in a healthy, empowering and bonding way. If I express my sadness I don’t expect you to fix me and if I am happy I don’t expect you to undermine me. In too many relationships this is what I observe, as couples swing between competitiveness and co-dependence.
So, it’s ok to express feelings. Actually, its vitally important for my emotional health and wellbeing and for my relationships. By understanding my feelings I will start to understand others feelings. This is one small step for some and a huge step for others. In relationship terms it can be a leap forward as (to stereotype it) husbands feel able to express and share and wives no longer become overwhelmed by their feelings.
If you want to take the fear out of feelings or If you recognise any of this and would like a confidential chat call Calm People East Midlands 07850614042 and ask for Julian or Calm People West Midlands 07950344658 and ask for Paula
Want to know more about the anger management, stress management, and emotional resilience courses run in Derby & Birmingham call the above numbers or click here