I feel... (DW#435)

Many of us have been trained to deny, suppress or hide feelings from others, and sometimes even from ourselves. Suppressing and hiding feelings is almost guaranteed to result in personal distress, and in emotional distance and detachment in relationships as opposed to connection. 

And so it is a good idea to practice emotional literacy – that is to get in touch with what we are feeling – and then to share those feelings with our loved ones to build connection and intimacy. 

The first step to sharing feelings is, of course, to recognize and label the feeling itself. 

Once we recognize how we are feeling, sharing those feelings is quite simple, really. It begins with two short words: "I feel….". 

I feel happy.
I feel neglected.
I feel respected.
I feel grateful.
I feel distraught.

Notice that there is no "I feel that  . . .". The word "that" usually indicates that what will follow is going to be a thought, not a feeling. 

For example: 
I feel that you are ignoring me
I feel that he is lazy
I feel that it is difficult for me to change

All these are thoughts, not feelings. Thoughts are fine to share as well, of course but sharing feelings has a stronger bonding impact on the relationship. Also, recognizing, naming and sharing feelings is the essence of emotional intelligence. And emotional intelligence greatly facilitates personal happiness as well as strong relationships. 

So, go ahead. Start noticing how you are feeling. (How many feelings can you name, by the way?) And then practice sharing them using only one word:

I feel hopeful
I feel discouraged
I feel pleased 
I feel frustrated
I feel delighted. 

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