Communication and Feelings

There are life lessons that I’m very lucky to have learned early on in my life. There are certain things that people older than me don’t seem to have a firm grasp on.

One thing that I’ve learned that has helped me immensely in all of my relationships can be boiled down to one single word : communication.

Communication has helped with me relationships with family members, with loved ones and even with friends. I used to be of the mindset, like far too many people, that if I got upset with you I would ignore you and not talk about it. The worst place I could be was wrapped up in my feelings. I’m sure while I was in High School or even in my twenties I ended a lot of friendships because I didn’t speak up about things. I didn’t communicate.

I now know that it’s impossible for you to be mad at someone about their behavior if you never tell them about it. How can somebody apologize to you or make it up you or, even better, fix their behavior!

Last year I had a co-worker that I used to talk to daily. One day he started giving me the cold shoulder. Usually this would drive me insane because I always want to be well liked and I always do anything I can to make people happy. I still feel that way but now I put myself FIRST so I don’t let it eat me up inside if someone’s behavior is different.

After about a week of not talking to me he finally blurted out:
“You know I’m not talking to you right?!”
I calmly replied “Yes, it’s hard not to notice.”
“Well aren’t you going to ask why?”
I thought for a second before I responded
“No…I’m not going to ask why. You know me enough to know that I’m not a bad person or do bad things. So if I’ve done something that upset you and you don’t respect me enough to come discuss it with me to fix the issue then clearly our friendship doesn’t mean enough to you. Ignoring problems doesn’t fix them, it only prolongs them and makes them worse.”

Suddenly I saw all the anger leave him. He told me why he was angry and it turns out it wasn’t even something I did, it was just something he THOUGHT I had done. We hugged it out and the problem was immediately solved.

I’ll give another example of the easy way to handle things. A friend of mine was upset and I had asked her to do something and she started yelling and hollering. That upset me to no end. I quietly pulled her aside and said “Listen you know I love you very much, and I’d never do anything to upset you. I don’t like when you holler like that though because it makes me feel like I did something wrong. Did I do something wrong to you?” to which she calmly replied that she was upset overall about some other things and didn’t mean to focus it on me. That she understood how I felt and when she was upset she was a yeller. Within seconds we squashed the problem hugged it out and both of us felt better.

I have had countless issues resolve themselves quickly just by calmly being open and honest about things. If you are angry at someone and you don’t tell them why they may never even understand that you are mad at them. They may just end up mad because they don’t understand and they think you are suddenly ignoring them.

Everyone has feelings. Your feelings are true whether or not the facts behind them are true or not.

I may be mad at you if I think you stole my $5. If you stole the $5 or not I’m not sure, but I’m sure I’m mad.

I may be hurt if I think you are cheating on me. You may or may not be cheating but I am definitely feeling hurt.

Our feelings are our feelings, and you can’t change that. They are facts, but I also think that peace is not something you find but something you have to make.

It is important to understand and acknowledge our feelings but it is also important to not let them run our lives and our decisions. Feelings are powerful and our own feelings can cloud our judgement.

Feelings brought to life by Pixar

It’s funny I started writing this and then I got a message I didn’t expect. Someone who used to be a close friend and we stopped speaking abruptly. I’d never forgiven her outright but I also never explained why I was upset. I told my side of the story to her, and I told her expressly that she was forgiven. We will never go back to the friendship we once had but it’s one less ghost keeping me up at night. One less loose end in my life.

I will probably touch on this topic a few more times and a little more in depth when I get the chance. Consider this post an introduction of sorts to the topic.

What’s the hardest feeling for you to deal with? For me it’s fear or anxiety, I tend to shut down and it really limits my interactions with people and can even lead to disgust, anger and sadness. I’ve gotten much better about working around that.

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