(I facilitate a wonderful group called the Life Alignment Program. An excellent question came up from one of the members and I decided to share my response here.)
The question: “Isn’t the point to express feelings, whenever and wherever, in order to be transparent and authentic?”
Communicating about your emotional world to those around you is a powerful step towards living a more authentic life. However, I think people get confused as to the goal of that communication. Specifically, it’s easy to get caught up in telling you what I’m feeling so you’ll DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT. Maybe you’ll remember to be on time, or you’ll be nicer, or you’ll understand me better, or see the conflict from my perspective, or…or…(just fill in the blank).
This is a pivot-point in relationship entanglement, an eddy people get caught in and have trouble jumping out of. If I say something and your body gets triggered, it’s pretty challenging to not see that as cause and effect. And–IT ISN’T.
What you’re feeling is between you and you.
Here’s how that works:
Emotions are simple physiological events. The only meaning they have is between you and you. What they communicate is important for you, but quite irrelevant for everyone else (besides those who are interested in understanding you better). Just like you might want someone to know you have indigestion or a headache, you may want to tell them about your anger/fear/sadness/joy/sexual feelings.
For example, sensations that you read as “anger” are telling you that you’re perceiving an intrusion on, or you’re currently creating resistance with the world as it is (anger as perception of intrusion or obstacle). Those sensations don’t mean there IS an intrusion or obstacle, just that you’re interacting with the world that way. They are feedback between you and you and so potentially are cues to for you to change something (take an action or change your perception about the intrusion/obstacle/resistance).
Similarly, sensations of:
• Throat/chest heaviness (aka sadness) tell you you’re perceiving that some sort of loss.
• Clenched stomach/solar plexus/body, or pounding heart and shaking body (aka fear) communicate that you’re perceiving a threat.
• Expansion through your body, including tingles, warmth, big energy (glad/sexual) tell you that you’re tuned in to your own aliveness, passion, and connection to life energy.
If I tell you that my chest is tight and my jaw clenched, it’s a moment when I’m tuning into me and simply updating you on my inner world and how I’m currently experiencing reality. It isn’t, IN ANY WAY, to imply that you have any responsibility about causing my sensations, fixing them, or doing anything at all about them. (Going back to the indigestion analogy, it’s my body to take care of.) When those emotions are Below the Line (mad/sad/scared) the ONLY THING FOR ME TO DO is to focus on supporting them in moving through my body. (Of course, I could stay in them if I want, though they also are signals that my body is in a stress response.) Then, when I’m back Above the Line (in Creative Brain) I’m available again for connection and to discover new solutions.
So, sure–tell me about your sensations/emotions if you want to. Getting weather reports on other people’s inner worlds is always fascinating to me. I’m especially interested if you’re stuck Below the Line, as knowing your sensations/emotions will give me a reflection of how you’re perceiving reality. And talking about what’s going on in your body will likely bring you into the present, where you can breathe and move and come back Above the Line.
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