Feeling Your Feelings
Is The Key To Intimacy & Loving Relationships
When we are born, we experience the world entirely through felt perception. We feel before we learn to see and think. Feeling and emotion lie at the heart of our human experience—and of our relationships. Given this, it is obvious why the relationship we have with our emotions is so important.
Unfortunately, we often dismiss our emotions and those of others as unimportant, silly, or inconvenient. Most of the time this is because we don’t know what to do with them; we are unaware of what emotions are and why we feel them.
Our relationship with emotion begins in childhood. Most of us grow up with a poor education on feelings. We learn how to hide them, avoid them, lie about them, use them as weapons or as tools to get attention, love, and approval. It’s a problem which is passed down for generations. As a parent it can be very challenging to raise our children with a positive attitude toward their feelings—especially if we ourselves never got that education from our parents. The reason for that is that much of the education on emotion we receive is not about what our parents say—it is about how they act and deal with their own feelings. It is very easy to inadvertently dismiss or disapprove of children’s emotions. Or worse, criticize or punish children for their emotional expressions when we feel tired and overwhelmed. Emotional dismissal and disapproval lead a child to accept the parent’s estimation of the event. The child learns to doubt their own judgment. In such a moment, they learn that it is wrong to feel the way that they feel. As a result, the child starts to lose confidence in themselves.
We internalize the mechanisms we grow up around. Because this is how our parents taught us to treat emotion, this is how we continue to treat our own feelings. And here’s the crux; how we treat other people is a direct reflection of how we treat ourselves. We dismiss and disapprove of each other’s feelings. We tell other people how they should and shouldn’t feel. We suffer in our relationships because we don’t know how to emotionally relate with each other because we don’t know how to emotionally relate to ourselves; we fail to develop true intimacy. As a result, our adult relationships are emotionally unhealthy.
We have to recognize and learn to understand our emotions. Emotional intelligence is an important life skill. It is essential for developing a healthy personality and benefits our relationships. Emotional maturity makes us happier adults. Just like anything else, it’s a skill you can learn.
“Healthy relating requires us to first understand and make sense of what we’re feeling. Then, we need to learn how to communicate our feelings in such a way that they are heard. If we are unaware of our own feelings, there is no way we can communicate efficiently. So, it is a two-step process.”
Emotions are focused on the self. This is why they can get us into trouble in our relationships. Expressing an emotion can cause pain and conflict if the way we express it defies the needs of the other. Learning how to communicate is an important aspect of learning how to express emotions in such a way that they serve to get our needs met. However, before we learn how to communicate our emotions, we first need to make sense of what we’re feeling. This is where many of us get stuck. Once we gain a deeper understanding of our emotions, it’s easy to take ownership of them. This is the foundation for healthy emotional relating and communicating—with ourselves and others.
One thing you can do right now is to tune into your body. What are you feeling? Take a moment to tune into any sensations and then notice whether you sense any emotions. If you experience a strong emotion, try to locate where you feel it inside your body. Don’t be afraid to tune into it and let yourself really feel it. You can place your hands on your body where you feel the emotion sit. Keep your hands soft and soothing. Breathe into the area and name what you are feeling. For example: “sadness”. Or “I feel angry”. Make sure to focus on your feelings and the experience of the emotion without going into the story of why you feel that way.
Exploring the why can take us deeper and be psychotherapeutically very valuable. However, often, when we don’t have any guidance, it’s easy to get stuck in a story, play the blaming game, or reinforce unhealthy patterns. When that happens, we’re actually not fully tuning into our feelings but instead tuning into the story of our feelings. That’s why getting a deeply somatic sense of our emotions is so valuable. It’s the first step to really showing up for yourself emotionally and it’s the key to communicating to others how we feel in a way that creates connection, understanding, and intimacy.
Deniz Aydoslu, MA, is an advanced certified yoga and meditation teacher and expert in the therapeutic application of yoga and somatics for mental health. She helps women heal emotionally and restore their connection to Spirit by integrating the body, heart, inner child, and soul into a meaningful whole. She offers deeply transformative work as well as simple tools to improve well-being, creativity, and productivity through fun, easy, and nourishing self-care tools.
As an experienced yoga and meditation teacher, somatic educator, and shamanic psychotherapy practitioner, she infuses her work with the healing power of love and the value of nature as medicine.