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Oftentimes when we want to express our feelings, we worry about how they’ll be received. Being in a relationship means concerning yourself with others feelings. If we’re over concerned, or over empathizing, we end up suppressing our own feelings or needs in unhealthy ways. Balancing our feelings, needs, capacity with what someone else needs is an important part of empathizing within our relationships.
In healthy relationships, we consider our feelings as well as the feelings of the members of our care community. Wanting to protect people in our care community from negative feelings is natural, but protecting them to the point of avoiding expression of our own creates an unhealthy dynamic. Showing that we respect someone and want to be experiencing a healthy relationship with them requires empathy and balance but not self-sacrifice. Being mindful of our peace, and who’s participating in protecting it, allows us to coordinate protection with people in a mutually beneficial ways.
Expressing our feelings can feel like a burden, especially if we’re considering how it makes someone else feel. It’s easier to absorb our feelings instead of sharing them. We convince ourselves we can be experience a healthy relationship with other people only if we’re not burdening them with our feelings and needs. Sometimes others have convinced us of this and we continue to perpetuate it in all of our relationships. But feelings hold weight and we either carry the weight alone or share it with others through healthy communication.
Suppressing Our Feelings Takes Away Our Authenticity
When we’re unable to openly express our feelings and the needs that arise, we give other people control over what needs are met in the relationship. In an effort to unburden others, we create unmet needs and unequal emotional distribution in ourselves. The most important aspect of every healthy relationship is met needs. To get our own needs met, we first have to identify them and then release them through healthy communication.
When we choose to genuinely and authentically express our feelings and needs, three things happen:
- We validate ourselves and take an initial stand in protecting our peace; setting the foundation for stable communication.
- We help our care partners realize which of our feelings and needs require attention.
- We take back control of assigning worth to our feelings and needs.
The desire to have others protect our peace, address our feelings, and meet our needs is human. A mutual exchange of information helps those things to take place. Waiting to see which feelings are seen and thus addressed by people in our care community becomes a sort of litmus test to the worth of our feelings. When we’re not validated and our needs are left unmet, we can internalize the behavior of others, believing our feelings, and maybe even ourselves, are unworthy.
Deciding which feelings and needs require attention, and speaking openly, lets us connect with our care community in an authentic way. We then get to determine if the people in our care community are willing and able to address the feelings and needs we prioritized. Expressing ourselves clearly and allowing people in our care community to respond, lets us decide who is worthy of being in our care community.
Considering the Feelings of Others
So when does balancing our feelings with other people’s feelings turn into suppression of our own? When we start to fill in their stories for them.
Communication is the most powerful tool we have in coordinating the protection of our peace and the safety of our care community. Healthy communication includes empathy and understanding but we don’t need to protect our care partners from our truth.
Allowing all of the natural feelings—negative or positive—to arise and get resolved in an authentic way deepens the connection between two people. Our wants and needs change all the time and so do the wants and needs of the people in our care community.
Taking an assertive position for ourselves means that our interactions with other people hold less weight. We’re not as offended if they’re unable to consider our feelings the way we’d like, we know our feelings still matter and that maybe we need to find someone more worthy of our vulnerability.
How Expressing Our Feelings Affects Our Self-Worth
Determining our feelings worthy of communication and consideration allows us to assign their worth rather than sort out confusion around the worth others have assigned to our feelings.
Avoiding communication around what we’re feeling or what we need from others puts us in a position of waiting to see what is discovered. Our timeline is not our own. Our met needs are then dependent on the perception of another person. Developing communication habits to express our needs in healthy ways gives us more control over determining our worth.
Giving ourselves permission to have feelings and needs and to want support from our care community leads us to closer, more authentic relationships. we feel valued and valuable. We strengthen the safe space around us by valuing our feelings first and then building a community of people who do the same.