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When we become frustrated, get hurt feelings, or another disappoints us, our default is often to react with anger or to lash out at the other in some way.
And although we may feel some satisfaction at getting our frustrations out, reacting with anger, criticism, judgment, bullying – or any other aggressive way is counterproductive to giving us the ultimate results we are looking for. So is being passive-aggressive and burying our feelings.
We all want to feel loved. And we all want to feel we matter to our loved ones. These are some of the many ways we feel the love and that our loved ones care about us.
We all want to be understood, appreciated, listened to, and have our loved ones
respect our wishes and do what they said they would do.
When we feel frustrated or hurt and get angry at someone, one, some, or all of the above ways we might feel loved are not being met.
However, rather than expressing how we truly feel in an attempt to get what we ultimately want, we lash out at the other.
And often, we are not even in touch with our true feelings and have lost a connection to what we ultimately want. We are caught in a habitual pattern of reacting – and projecting our frustrations outward towards the other.
Getting in Touch with Your True Feelings – and what You Ultimately Want
For those of us not used to showing our true feelings – of being vulnerable, it is scary to step onto that ledge. Most of us who are used to hiding our true feelings, or no longer have a connection to them, have had our feelings trampled upon in the past to such a degree that we clammed up.
We may have been bullied, belittled, shushed, or our feelings ignored. Maybe we were made to feel our feelings were unimportant or didn’t matter, or were told they were silly and childish when we expressed them. Physical or emotional abuse also makes our hearts close because our past experience tells us we cannot trust others and life.
This is an excerpt from my upcoming book, Relationship Intelligence … – due out later this winter. See My Published and Upcoming Books
Whatever happened in our past to turn our heart cold will cause us to keep our feelings to ourselves. Past hurts may also have caused us to unconsciously bury our feelings so that we cannot tap into them enough to find the words to express them. We unconsciously created a barrier to our heart, and its feelings nature, to protect it from further pain.
When protecting our hearts, our default is to project our pain outward towards the other with anger, criticism, blame, etc. – rather than reaching out from our hearts and showing our true feelings. We are afraid to be vulnerable by putting our hearts out there.
Express Your True Feeling – to Get the Results You Really Want
To keep the peace, avoid creating an all-out conflict, and address the real issue so it can be solved, you must express your feelings – how whatever the person did or didn’t do made you feel – rather than react with aggression towards the other in unhelpful, unproductive ways.
Expressing how you feel is productive.
Reacting to what the other did or didn’t do is counterproductive
Acting or reacting badly or aggressively – even as a response to another’s bad, hurtful, or insensitive reactions or behaviors does not solve the real issue causing you to react aggressively rather than respond calmly.
Anger, blame, criticism, defensiveness, control, and all other aggressive behaviors and reactions are attempts to deal with an unspoken hurt, pain, or disappointment.
To show your true feelings, you must be in touch with them. And if being in touch with them is foreign to you, it takes conscious effort to overcome the fear of your feelings being stepped on again.
(Below are some suggestions on how to respond from the heart and feelings rather than from anger and aggression).
When You Respond by Expressing Your True Feelings
When you are hurt, disappointed, or angry, and you express your true feelings – and do so in a calm, non-needy way that focuses on how you feel – and not what the other has or has not said or done, you open the door for honest communication. The results may be,
- You enter into a give-and-take dialogue that leads to an understanding of the issue and possibly find ways to avoid the situation in the future. You will feel satisfied.
- You gain clarity on the situation – maybe there was a misunderstanding, or …. You will feel satisfied.
- The other apologizes for something they actually did. You will feel satisfied.
- He or she retreats because they do not have the emotional capacity to deal with either their error or your emotions. You may not feel satisfied, but you have avoided a conflict. Still, try again if a similar situation arises, as avoiding conflict is your best option.
If you are not used to responding to hurts and disappointments by expressing yourself honestly, here are a few suggestions.
- Most importantly, always start by expressing how YOU FELT. Not what the other did or didn’t do.
- Say: I felt unloved when you forgot our dinner date.
- Instead of: You forgot our dinner date, and it peed me off because I got all dressed up and waited and waited, Say: I felt unappreciated when you didn’t help with the cleaning up
- Instead of: You didn’t help me clean up again. I’m sick and tired of always having to pick up the slack, Say: I felt so stressed and undervalued when I learned you spend all that money on xyz without discussing it with me first.
- Instead of: You’re so reckless with our money. How can I ever trust you again? Say. I feel so nervous that we will not be able to pay all our bills when you are reckless with our money or we do not discuss it
And remember, to be most effective and get a positive result, you must remain calm and be loving, and keep neediness, blame, sarcasm, etc. away. This is easier when you understand that we are all different, and have had different life experiences – probably some good, but some bad too, and we all deal with life and our past as best we can. (I expand on this more in the next chapter).
When We Respond in Anger
When we respond in anger (or any other aggressive, hurtful, or negative way towards the other), we make them wrong. For them, it feels like an attack, and their defenses go up. They either,
- Counteract in anger – and things escalate. Once things start to escalate, there is little chance of having a peaceful encounter or of you getting the results you want.
- Retreat into themselves or goes off in a huff to avoid conflict. If the other retreats into themself or goes off in a huff, the issue is unresolved, and you do not get the desired result.
Either way, you will not be satisfied.
Our default reactions are based on habitual patterns we developed over time to protect our hearts and to deal with life – and its disappointments – as we see them.
About My Books “Why We Are the Way We Are” and “Your Journey to Peace …”- both are available in print and e-book from Amazon (links to buy in the about books). My Upcoming books: “Relationship Intelligence …“ is due out Winter 2023. “Overcome Your Unconscious Influences ...” is due out Summer 2022.2022. COVER IMAGES BELOW
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© Rosemary McCarthy, January, 2023. (updated release dates)