Probably the most significant kind of experiences that a human being can undergo in a lifetime are relationships, the ones with family, friends, lovers and partners. Interactions with people are what we use to build ourselves, in order to move through the multitude of emotions, events, and crisis that can occur. As time progresses the way we communicate changes, especially more so in our modern day age. However, we haven’t been communicating with the individual self enough and evolving personally. What I mean by this is that much of us tend to put ourselves second and the rest of the world first; this, of course, causes a lot of the situations in our life that make us feel uncomfortable, in pain, jealous, and resentful, to say the least — I myself am a victim of this.
It’s been nearly two years since I married my wife, the first year felt more like ten as so much was learned. We didn’t meet the “regular” way people meet and our marriage was established much quicker than conventional means. We only knew each other for two months before signing the papers, then the massive adventure waiting for us of moving in together began and the rollercoaster ride really started. Plenty of arguments, laughter and bickering have gone on in the last year and a half, much of it related to the new living arrangements, most of if from really getting to know each other. But, I have begun to notice something very interesting, especially the situations that surrounded the various arguments.
In relationships, whether it’s romantic, platonic, familial or and even with an acquaintance, what can come up often are our shadows (or dark side). For those who may not be too familiar with the term “shadows,” I’m referring to bottled up emotions from the past that have been ignored, rejected, suppressed or forgotten. A lot of the shadows are the things we don’t like about ourselves. Now, these shadows haven’t forgotten you at all, and they’re constantly finding ways to get your attention through the people you interact with. Have you ever met someone who did something to you and it really got under your skin? Yeah, that’s a shadow aspect trying to get your attention. You can look at this from two points of view: 1) as a means to learn and grow, or 2) hold your head in misery and continue to be in denial. Note, that if you choose option 2 it will show itself in another way with another person as it awaits your attention. They can be so subtle that many of us bat it off as nothing. And what do these shadows want the most from us? Very simply, and it may be hard to believe, but to just be acknowledged and felt. Here is a real life example:
In my job, I meet different people each day, however, this one particular day an older man kept making jokes with me. At first, I thought maybe he was just a funny person, but then I noticed that the tone sounded very condescending. I felt like I was not being taken seriously. I saw it clearly as the man talked to my colleague, his tone was more cordial and fluid. As soon as that interaction was over, I really thought about the feeling I’d had. It all just came back to not being taken seriously. So I ask my special question: What is it that I’m not taking seriously with myself? I remembered how much I doubted my own knowledge and experience I had in my life. This then chain linked to the feeling of rejection. As soon as I thought rejection, all my anger and frustration disappeared, and that’s when I knew I had rejected myself. I reject my own knowledge and the experiences in my life that are worthy of being expressed and shared with the world. After realising that, I allowed myself to feel rejected, and a few moments later I felt fine and continued my day.
Understanding your emotions and where they come from is highly beneficial when interacting with other people, especially with a significant other. Many of you who are reading this will know that when you feel happy, uplifted and positive, you will talk to others in that way. You smile, express yourself with a pleasant tone of your voice; you come off as high-spirited and you see the best in people. The same goes for when you feel the opposite, such as sadness, anger, and despair, as you’ll talk to people in an agitated and unpleasant tone and you come off as, in the simplest word, a prick. Now, I’m the kind of person who sees the best in people and I don’t believe anyone is a prick. I know that there are always emotional issues going on with any particular individual that results in undesired behaviour and that’s because the person hasn’t taken the time to identify with their core feeling in order to have a fluid interaction with the rest of world.
So, as you know, many people respond positively if they encounter a person who is happy and bright. It’s also common to react in a bad way to an unhappy person. You see how I highlighted those two words? Reacting and responding are two very different exchanges of energy, especially between someone you’re close to. Responding involves listening, thinking about your answer before you give it and most of all an open heart; reacting means replying with the full force of the emotion you feel in that moment, and it really is an issue when we’re feeling something negative. It’s easy to take (or give compliments) since they boost the way we feel, but giving, or receiving, a negative comment, brings us down, especially if it’s from a loved one or someone who you’d expect to be there for you. So, how do you respond to a person who is in a negative position and is continually being reactive in a bad way? At the same time, how does one stop reacting to someone in a negative way and start responding in a way that allows for more harmonious communication? These two questions are certainly not easy to consider in the heat of the moment, but, it’s not impossible to do.
From what I’ve learned in my marriage, if I allowed my wife to fully express how she feels and not react from a place that feels like I being attacked, the conversation always lead to an amicable resolution. Just as the opposite was true; when I did react, things became much bigger than they needed to be. I noticed that when I spoke to my wife in a way that didn’t make her feel like she was under attack, she responded in a much more different way. Here is an example:
My wife and I got into an argument before going to bed. I had written a text message right before turning off the lights and my wife asked me who I was texting so late. As my wife tends to ask me this question a lot over the “very” small times I spend texting anyone on my phone, I defensively avoided the question. This, in turn, gave rise to my wife becoming suspicious of whom I was speaking to. Although texting my mother isn’t a reason to be suspicious, at the same time my motivation was to uphold my personal privacy, so I simply told her that I didn’t want to say who I was texting. This argument resulted in a series of reactions between us that lead to us both becoming angry.
When we woke up the next morning, there were few words being exchanged, but I looked into my anger and the whole situation. For me, it felt as though my personal freedom wasn’t being respected, however, at the same time there was a high level of insecurity and self-esteem coming from my wife. I looked at these feelings from her perspective and my own and I found there was a huge portion of myself that also deeply felt insecure and with a low self-esteem. And so I explored these feelings with the following question: “Where is it that I feel insecure and have a low self-esteem in my life?” (Because this situation is bringing up shadows, remember?) It was where I was putting my business together for the Observer’s Eye that my self-esteem was the lowest.
I’ve tried a number of different things in my life that I’d hope would create a sense of purpose for myself, and since they didn’t work out well, I feared that this too wouldn’t make it. It was then I allowed myself yet again to feel the low self-esteem, and then I began telling myself that I could do it, and there was a place inside me that knew it to be true and that this is what I wanted to do.
My wife then came to me first about the situation and I simply listened to what she had to say, however, it was mostly about the situation itself and how my actions “made” her feel the way she did and react. When she was done I explained to her how it made me feel and about the self-esteem issues and how the situation made me think about what I was feeling deep inside me. She was VERY receptive and realised that her own self-esteem was an issue as well and the whole conversation shifted for the best.
The approach to understanding your deeper emotions is nearly impossible to achieve when you’re reacting to the actual situation, and it’s super hard to know what you really feel in the heat of the moment. This is why it’s very important to use the time, when cooling off, to ask yourself the following types of questions to analyse the event deeper.
- Where is it that I feel insert feeling in my life?
- What is it that I feel insert feeling in my life?
- Why is this insert feeling is affecting my life?
Even the way you speak will completely transform after doing this type of emotional work. In the example above, my wife approached me in a way that would result in another argument, because many of the things she said would make me want to react. However, because I knew how I really felt, I knew the best thing was to allow her to say how she felt, based on her own understanding and knowledge.
So, how can one learn how to really do this? It looks simple, and the technique is, but like all things, it needs practice, practice, practice. To understand your emotions on this level, you have to learn how to step away from the situation and look at it as a whole, from an observer’s perspective. We all have the ability to do this because, in reality, we all are observers. To learn how to do this effectively, please see my video: Expressing yourself verbally.
Thanks for reading, Be groovy, Be you, Be Love. ❤