Sharing Feelings: Information or Attack?

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Sharing Feelings: Information or Attack?
When you share your feelings with a person you are upset with, what happens?

"I'm angry with you."
"I'm feeling really hurt by what you said to me."
"I'm so disappointed in you."
"I'm feeling really irritated with you."

How often have you said these things to others? And how do they generally respond?

 

Do they get defensive?
Do they get angry?
Do they withdraw?
Do they lecture or explain things to you, trying to talk you out of your feelings?
Do they become people pleasers, trying to fix your feelings?
Are they open and curious?

Most likely, they will respond with some form of protective, defensive behavior, because they probably feel attacked.

Why would they feel attacked by your expression of feelings?

When someone has done something that is upsetting to you, the question to ask yourself when you are sharing your feelings with that person is, "What is my intent in sharing my feelings with this person?"

There are two possible answers to this question:
1. I am sharing my feelings to give information.
2. I am sharing my feelings to blame the person for causing my feelings.
If you were sharing your feelings to give information, you might say, "I'm feeling angry with you, so I'm going out for a walk and try to deal with it."

If you were taking responsibility for your own feelings, you may not say anything about your feelings to the other person. You would go inside and explore what you are telling yourself that is causing you to feel angry, hurt, disappointed or irritated. You might share information, such as, "I'm feeling stressed, so I'm going to take a bath."

But if you just say, "I'm angry with you," or "You hurt my feelings," then you are not taking responsibility for your feelings — you are dumping your feelings on the other person, and he or she will feel blamed.

"But he did make me angry!" you might be thinking. "She did hurt my feelings." "He did disappoint me." Behind these statements lies a major false belief — the belief that others cause all your painful feelings.

Often, it is not what another person says or does that causes your upsets, but your expectations and what you tell yourself about another's behavior that causes your painful feelings. If you expected a birthday gift and didn't get one, you will feel disappointed, but it is your expectation that caused the disappointment. If someone ignores you or rejects you, what do you tell yourself? Do you tell yourself that you are not good enough, not lovable enough? This is what will hurt you or make you feel angry. You will feel hurt and angry when you allow yourself to take others' behavior personally. If you then blame them for your feelings, you are being a victim rather than taking responsibility for having taken their behavior personally.

This article was originally published at . Reprinted with permission.
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Dr. Margaret Paul

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Margaret Paul, Ph.D. is a best-selling author of 8 books, relationship expert, and co-creator of the powerful Inner Bonding® process - featured on Oprah, and recommended by actress Lindsay Wagner and singer Alanis Morissette. Are you are ready to heal your pain and discover your joy? Take our FREE Inner Bonding course, and click here for a FREE CD/DVD relationship offer. Visit our website at innerbonding.com for more articles and help, as well as our Facebook Page. Phone and Skype sessions available. Join the thousands we have already helped and visit us now!

Location: Pacific Palisades, CA
Credentials: PhD
Specialties: Anxiety Issues, Couples/Marital Issues, Depression
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