• Everyone Owns Their Feelings

    April 14, 2016 | Blog | Jodi
  • If everything we have is taken from us, one thing that we will always have is how we feel. When I like something or someone, I don’t need for anyone to understand why. I’ve had people ask me, “Is it bad that I like…” My answer is almost always, “You like what you like. There’s no good or bad about it.” When people have made choices they regret later on, they often say, “I should have listened to my gut.”

    YES!!! Listen to your gut! It’s not magic or superstition. It is everything you’ve experienced to this point in your life coming together as a feeling.

    Sometimes when I work with couples, I hear interactions that sound something like this:

    Partner A: “I told you, that made me feel like a fool when you told me how I should wash the dishes. I know how to wash dishes. I’ve been doing it for 40 years!”

    Partner B: “But I was just helping you see that there’s a better way to do them. My way is faster and uses less water.”

    Partner A: “My way works fine. You just always have to be right. And it makes me feel stupid.”

    Partner B: “You shouldn’t feel that way. I’m not trying to make you feel stupid.”

    I see a couple of things going on here that could cause hurt in a relationship. If B does something that leaves A feeling stupid, B completely invalidates A’s experience by telling A not to feel that way. Too late! Partner A already feels stupid. It’s possible that B didn’t realize how A was feeling, B may not agree that A should react by feeling stupid, but once A tells B how they feel, B now has a choice to make. B can continue doing the same thing, leaving A to feel stupid – and A will likely think B doesn’t care how they feel. Or B can choose to change that style of interaction to one that is validating and empathetic.

    A validating and empathetic response from B might sound like this:

    Partner B: “Wow, I’m sorry. I didn’t realize I made you feel stupid when I did that. I don’t want to make you feel stupid. I’ll try not to do that any more.”

    Another thing that could be causing hurt in this relationship is B telling A how to do something. Indeed, there are times when one partner knows how to do something that the other partner does not know how to do. For example, I don’t know how to swing a golf club. If I ask my partner to teach me how to swing a golf club, then I’ve invited my partner’s input. In the scenario where one is doing dishes while the other offers advice, the advice is unsolicited and, therefore, hurtful.

    It is not the job of a loving partner to correct, teach or improve the other without being invited to do so. It is our job to love each other, not improve each other.