Recently I came across a life hack about finding solutions rather than finding yourself in arguments, and I thought to myself “Yeah, I could totally milk a blog outta that concept!" Lol And so, here we are! Stay with me…. Please? Haha
It’s such a simple concept really, as brilliant concepts tend to be! Let’s explore an argument. When I reflect on all the arguments I have had over the years, with friends, family and lovers alike, the appropriate words that come to mind are: Heated. Emotional. Charged. Irrational. (Them. Not me! Lol.) None of these same words apply to the concept of an explanation.
I know as well as anyone that it is near impossible to fight emotions with rationale or logic. Why is that? Because an explanation almost instantly takes away the power of expression when it comes to emotions, doesn’t it? It doesn’t feel as good to say “I am angry because you cancelled on me again and I feel vulnerable and scared that I am not important to you,” as it does to say “I hate how flaky you are, you’re so unreliable and don’t care about anyone but yourself.” Does it?!
If however, we think it through to the next stage, it would be much easier to get the reassurance and support we require if we say the first thing rather than the latter. Explaining your feelings really lets the other person hear what you are feeling, and why, whereas, ironically, expressing them doesn’t?! I know, right?! If you express your feelings, the other party usually ends up feeling attacked, and defensive. If you explain them, you give the other party the chance to come nearer emotionally rather than pushing them further away.
If you express your feelings, they have gotten the better of you. The other party will definitely get the message that you are ANGRY but the reason behind it will probably be lost on them. As they are defensive, they will probably not be all that interested in hearing the reasons. This will only make for a frustratingly closed conversation, often with little resolve.
In my experience of arguments… which I wish was less extensive than it is on my emotional resume, it is only after the emotions dissipate that we are able to come back together. Somebody typically apologises and opens the lines of communication. It is only when the need to express the emotion has passed that we are able to explain it.
I’m not saying it will be an easy concept to apply, but I challenge us all to try to explain our emotions next time we start feeling overwhelmed by them. This is different to justifying them btw. Who among us has never “phoned a friend” to justify all the reasons we are upset about something someone has said or done to hurt us. The validation we receive adds fuel to the fire. If anyone tries to be logical, we refuse to hear them, because the emotion is dying to be expressed, heard and validated. We are not READY to be rational!
So how could we combat this? Perhaps we could reflect on a time when we did something that hurt someone and how much better we would have handled the situation if they had explained their anger rather than expressed it?! That would have felt much better for you, wouldn’t it? You might have felt more compassionate and open rather than defensive and closed.
Too often, when we feel overwhelming emotions, we don’t take the time, even within ourselves to explain them. Sure, we justify them, and all the reasons we are RIGHT to feel that way, and they were WRONG to act the way they did, but how will we ever come to common ground if our intention is to be in a superior position to our opponent, with whom we arguably want an equal relationship? It might feel good – giving you the power and the upper hand, but that puts the other person at a powerless disadvantage, and you can bet your bottom dollar that they will fight you on it. Their sense of self depends on it! If you care for someone, in theory you want to protect their self image, as well as your image of them, right?
So next time you are feeling hurt and angry, I challenge you to write an essay – Why am I angry? Explain it to yourself. Sure, express all the emotion! Let it all out, how hurt and angry you are, then start with the justifications, but always ask why. Why do I feel this way, why am I so hurt? Why did they behave that way? Why am I jumping to the most negative conclusion? What do I want to happen now? Can I express that to them calmly? Let the emotion pass, then calmly bring up the issue.
If you feel yourself getting emotional again, simply tell the other person – I am getting too emotional to discuss this calmly… then remove yourself and rinse, wash, repeat! Chances are something else unexpectedly popped up that you need to mentally process and digest. A feeling, a thought, or new information. It is ok to take your time, the other things emotions do is cause a sense of urgency. It isn’t as urgent as it feels.
We can’t expect others to understand us when we don’t understand ourselves. The answer is within….
Your Best Friend ForNever