Identifying our feelings can be complicated and scary. Sometimes when we discover what we’re feeling, whether it be anger, sadness, anxiety, disrespect, or other feelings of discontentment, we try to analyze them before expressing them. This can result in suppressing our feelings rather than processing them.
Analyzing the existence of our feelings results in a logic-seeking exploration where we argue with ourselves about whether or not we have a “right” to the feeling. Feelings aren’t chosen, though, they’re discovered.
You Have a “Right” to all Your Feelings
Identifying your feelings—to communicate them in a healthy way—starts with self check-ins. Checking in with yourself allows you to identify the thoughts and feelings waiting to come to the surface.
Once we identify them, we can give ourselves permission to have them, which allows us the ability to start processing and expressing. Discovering our feelings is not the same as permitting ourselves to act them out but is rather the validation we give ourselves to seek the right support in continuing to process them.
For example: If you discover that you’re upset about a comment your boss made regarding a coworker’s reports being exceptionally well-done, you may try to talk yourself out of the feeling. You will say things like “it doesn’t matter, I’m just here to do my job” or “it’s true, why cant they say it?” But deep down you’re feeling overlooked or invalidated. By not identifying to yourself that you’re feeling invalidated, you’re not permitting yourself to have those feelings or seek the support you may need to process them. Telling yourself it doesn’t matter is negative self-talk. You have a right to talk to yourself or a friend about your disappointment or discontentment.
Discovering our feelings is not the same as acting them out.
Acting out feelings is a confusing way to communicate for many people. Imagine if your spouse came into the house and started slamming doors. They’re communicating that they’re upset, but without words, the communication feels scary.
Watching someone act out their feelings causes disconnection because most people don’t know how to respond.
When we identify that we feel upset or angry, and we verbalize our feelings, we can let our care community know we need help. Help can be reassurance, an ear for venting, or offered solutions. Knowing how to verbalize our feelings helps us also verbalize our needs and meet them more effectively with our partners and the people in our care community.
Healthy relationships allow for the expression of discovered feelings.
Expressing your identified feelings to someone you care about is direct permission from yourself, to yourself, to have those feelings and seek connection regarding them.
For example: Now that you’ve discovered and permitted yourself the feelings of disappointment from your boss’s comment, you can let your partner know what you’ve discovered by saying, “I’m upset that my boss complimented a coworker’s reports and not mine.” This is both a display of vulnerability and an offer to your partner allowing them to consent to care about your issue.
Expressing our feelings and resolving them with a trusted partner or friend, helps us release the weight of those feelings. Acknowledging that we want support in resolving our feelings puts us into the practice of validating all feelings, both our own and others, helping us to become a stronger part of someone else’s care community.
Your feelings matter because you have them.
There is no logical justification to why your feelings should or should not matter to someone else. Caring is always a simple choice that people must make in order to be trusted and embraced into someone else’s care community. We have control over who we allow into our life and who we share our feelings with.
You’re worthy of a care community full of people who will help you process and resolve your feelings. There is no need to convince someone your feelings matter. We should be allowed to express what’s going on inside of us without fear of being rejected or feeling isolated.
When we choose to allow our feelings to matter to ourselves, we’ll insist that they matter to others as well. This insistency is what helps us create the boundary for ensuring we maintain the right care community.