Are You Entitled to Your Feelings?

Posted by Pamela in Advice

The honeymoon period of a relationship is fabulous! You love everything about each other, everything he is does is so cute. You are simpatico. You understand each other, can practically read each other's mind and interpret each other's needs. But at some point in the relationship guess what will inevitably happen? You will not agree. Not only will not agree, but something may be important to your significant other that will just not be that important to you and vice versa. Then what?

People have different ways of handling disagreements. Some people deny their needs and accommodate the other person to your own detriment. This can result in a personal health crisis. Others sweep their anger under the rug building up silent resentment until one day you just walk away and you're done. Others keep having the same fight over and over again, with no resolution until it degrades the relationship. Others get upset and blame the other person. This leaves both people feeling isolated.  With so many different reactions to disagreements it is no wonder we have such an abundance of divorces in court with couples fighting over lamps and child custody arrangements.

So what do you do when these differences come up?

Rose finally found her true love.  While she was excited about her new relationship, she was also very nervous. With the help of her coach, Rose decided not to discuss the new relationship with her friends. Instead she chose to keep the details of the relationship between her and her boyfriend. Her best friend, Cheryl became very upset with her accusing Rose of shutting her out and for not sharing the details of her life.

Karen was dating an entrepreneur named Seth. Just as they were getting serious one of his companies took off and overnight he became suddenly very busy. He ended up breaking plans several times at the last minute. They had not seen each other for about 2 weeks due to his schedule and finally had made plans to see each other on a Sunday. They were going to spend the day together. By 2 p.m. on Sunday she had not heard from him so she called him. He got a last minute job and was working. He said she could go to his house and wait for him, but he did not know when he would be done, maybe 10 p.m. Needless to say Karen was upset.

It is true you cannot control your feelings. And it is true, denying your feelings does not make the situation any better. But you do have a responsibility for what you do with your feelings. In Cheryl's situation, she was there for Rose when she was lonely and single and now suddenly Rose no longer needed her. Cheryl felt hurt and excluded from Rose's life. After all she was there for Rose whenever she needed her. Isn't Cheryl entitled to be upset at Rose?

In Steven Covey's book the 7 Habits of Highly Successful People, the 5th Habit is "SEEK TO UNDERSTAND, NOT TO BE UNDERSTOOD."  Steven Covey says " If you're like most people, you probably seek first to be understood; you want to get your point across. And in doing so, you may ignore the other person completely…" Whenever you are upset at someone else for their choices or their behavior, you are attacking that person. No matter how justified or in the right you may feel.>

Let's take Cheryl's situation. Instead of getting upset at Rose, she could say – I noticed you have not been discussing your new boyfriend. We used to talk about everything and I was wondering why you were not sharing this with me? Cheryl may still feel hurt and that Rose does not choose to share with her, but Cheryl can comfort herself for her feelings of hurt. It is not Rose's responsibility to make Cheryl feel better, because Rose made a choice that was best for her.  Further, Rose does not "owe her" because Cheryl chose to be her confidante in the past.

However, if you give people the benefit of the doubt, you will find they are much more open to giving you the loving support and understanding that you want. What about Seth? When they spoke later Karen said it seems like it is hard for us to get together lately now that you are so busy with work. Do you have any ideas? Seth requested the Karen be patient and insisted it would get better in time. She then asked him if they made plans, like on Sunday, and a job opportunity came up, would he be willing to schedule the job for a different day so they could keep their plans. He felt he could not do that because he had been waiting for five years for this business to take off and he did not feel comfortable turning down or postponing work under any situation. Karen decided she had to let the relationship go. Was she upset? Of course, and she had a good cry and then moved on. But she was able to understand his point of view and the relationship ended peacefully so she did not waste any time in a relationship that was not going anywhere.

When you follow Steven Covey's 5th habit of healthy communication you will find you can create a space for open loving communication and an environment of mutual respect and support.

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