Want a greater emotional connection with your partner? Start by getting in touch with your own emotions first!
Have you ever had a feeling but could not understand exactly what it was or why you were feeling this way?
Sometimes people do not know what they are feeling. They may be aware that something “is not right” but they cannot identify what it is.
Understanding your emotions
Others may know on the inside what they are feeling but they do not know how to express their feelings to others. Maybe you can identify your emotion appropriately but cannot say why you feel this way. Not being able to put your feelings into words can lead to others misunderstanding your mood, which will often leave you feeling frustrated and alone.
As humans we are emotional creatures. Whether you are aware of it or not, emotions are a constant presence in our lives and are influencing what we do. Even for someone who says they can turn their emotions off or make a logical rational decision without emotions, emotions are still driving what they do. They just are unaware of it and are often afraid to feel so they try not to. It is in fact an emotion that is driving them to try to feel no emotion – a fear of feeling emotions. No matter what, you cannot escape emotions, so it is better to understand and control them rather than let them control you.
The first step is to identify if you have trouble with your emotions, and if so, what trouble you are having. Answer the following questions. If one describes you, becoming more aware of your emotions is most likely something that you need to work on.
- Have you ever felt like your depression or anxiety is controlling you?
- Have you ever felt like anger is controlling you? Like you have no control over your anger?
- Do you act impulsively, saying or doing things that you know you shouldn’t and regretting it later?
- Do you feel like your life is an emotional roller coaster, all ups and downs and no balances?
- Have you ever felt emotionally numb or disconnected from your feelings?
- Do you have a hard time communicating with others?
- Do you have a hard time forming meaningful connections?
Relationships are built on emotional bonds, and if you are not in touch with your emotions and cannot express them or recognize emotions in others, becoming more emotionally aware will help you form deeper and more lasting bonds.
Example 1: BEING TAUGHT THAT SOME FEELINGS ARE NOT OKAY TO FEEL.
If you have been taught as a child to not express sadness or weakness, there’s a good chance you don’t handle these emotions very well. Therefore, you may instead turn feelings of sadness, insecurities, or fear into anger and express these feelings as anger. Being taught not to feel a certain emotion does not make that emotion disappear. Instead it makes us learn how to express it in other, incorrect, ways. If you never learn to say “I am sad” or “that really hurt my feelings” and instead you lash out in anger, then the response they get from those around them will be to the anger and not a response to the underlying true feeling, which will leave you feeling alone and misunderstood.
Example 2: BEING TAUGHT THAT YOU DO NOT REALLY FEEL WHAT YOU SAY YOU FEEL.
Often children are told to “be seen and not heard.” When children ask questions those around them might stifle their natural curiosity. This is a problem especially if the child asked questions concerning their parents’ emotions. “Daddy, why are you mad?” “Mommy, why are you crying?” These questions are often met with “none of your business” which leaves a child wondering “what is appropriate to get mad about?” Or worse, “I’m not crying, nothing’s wrong” when in fact the mother is crying and something is wrong, but now the child is left confused. To them it looks like sadness but if mommy is saying she isn’t sad, what is she feeling? And what does sadness look like if mommy crying does not mean sadness? This leads a child to grow up not trusting their own gut feeling and not knowing how to properly express emotion.
Example 3: BEING TOLD WHAT YOU CAN AND CAN’T DO WITH YOUR LIFE.
What about a woman who is taught growing up that her place is in the house, married to a man, and birthing children? She expresses a desire to go to college but is told a woman doesn’t need a college education, so she doesn’t go. She might also find herself attracted to women, but has been told this is wrong and that she must marry and have children, so she marries right out of high school. Once married, she expresses feeling depressed or bored and unfulfilled with life.
She wants to get a job. Her husband says “you should be happy, you don’t have to work and get to stay home.” She is left questioning herself and perhaps feeling guilty for wanting to work outside the home. Perhaps her husband also criticizes her for not enjoying sexual relations with him. This makes her think something is wrong with her that she cannot enjoy this part of married life. She secretly is attracted to a woman, but she has been taught this is wrong, so she never says anything.
Her feelings are going unheard and ignored, and she is being told they are wrong. Chances are she was probably taught to suppress her own feelings and tend to those of her husband and children, so any time she wants to do something for herself she feels guilty. Perhaps she feigns happiness when talking to neighbors and family members because that is what she was taught she is supposed to feel, and she is left wondering if anyone notices or cares how miserable she is on the inside?
Does any of this sound familiar?