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Saturday, June 9, 2012

Successful Relationships -Reminders from Infants about Expressing

One of the biggest mistakes we make - and one that has the power to sabotage our relationships - is that we fail to take into account each others' emotional state. But emotional states are part of being alive - and they're part of every relationship. If we express them well, they contribute to the loving, nourishing relationships we need to sustain us.

But handle them poorly, and the result can be disruption so complete that the relationship breaks down completely.  In short, we can only benefit by learning to handle our emotional states well. What constructive cues can we take from how infants deal with their emotional states? Infants remind us that:

1. The purpose of emotional expression isto feel better by being heard and understood, not to make someone else feel bad.

2. Saying - "I'm mad," " I'm scared", "I'm sad "- is aboutdeclaring what we feel, not about competition. The old ploy: "You feel X, well what about me?" moves relationships in the opposite direction from nourishing and fulfilling.

3. Two people canfeel at the same time. The fact that one person is expressing an emotional state does not negate such states in others.

4. Expressing an emotion is aboutcreating camaraderie, closeness and understanding, not about negating what someone else feels. Each person has an equal right to feel.

5. Sharing an emotional state is aboutconveying feeling experiences to others, not about placing blame. Feelings are feelings; responsibility and causation are a different subject. "I hurt, I hurt I hurt" is an example of feeling expression. Who or what caused that hurt is about establishing responsibility and boundaries - a different process.

As adults, we can express an emotion without escalating it. In other words, we can transmit what we feel to another without increasing its intensity. No need to hit someone over the head with it! Further, if we sense the other person is not receiving what we're saying, we can use words. For example:

"I need to know you heard me and what I feel."

"Will you please translate back me what you heard me say? Because our relationship is important to me, I want to reveal any misperceptions before they have an opportunity to grow both roots and wings!"

"I know you have strong feelings about this too. Let me know you accurately received what I said so we can move on to what you feel."

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