“Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm, but to add color to my sunset sky.”
I can see now that I missed a crucial insight when it came to relationships. Thinking I was doing it right, I thought I had to communicate every feeling and concern, continually have “the talk” about what’s going on, and endlessly process what happened when an interaction became difficult.
I was trying to be a good communicator and keep everything out in the open.
Now, an honest, open relationship is a beautiful thing, and I wouldn’t accept anything less. But it doesn’t all hinge on good communication. Because here’s what I’ve learned.
When we don’t own our emotional reactions, we bring tension, conflict, and separation to our relationships.
Own Your Emotions
Instead of taking a breath and meeting our own experience when we feel frustrated or hurt, we blame, criticize, fight, manipulate, and spend our precious time rationalizing our opinions to ourselves and everyone around us.
We’ve moved away from the solo activity of being present with our experience. The effects? We’re driven to engage when we’re emotionally charged, not calm. (Not a good plan.) And our minds spin in judgment and confusion, trying to make sense of it all.
Is this what you really want? Do you want to foster friction and divisiveness—or do you want to meet the people in your life with an open, loving heart and mind?
Turning Toward Your Inner Experience
The beginning of a bold and courageous way of being is to turn your attention away from the other person and directly into yourself. You stop seeing others through the veil of your own pain.
What happens? Compassion naturally arises—for others and for yourself.
Your reactions to other people are a beautiful invitation for your awakening. They reflect back to you areas of unexplored emotion and show you how you hide from yourself.
Here’s what’s possible: Being triggered by others becomes a time of celebration. You get to see where you’re stuck so you can be free. Then you show up open and kind in your interactions. When you start reflecting on your own inner experience, you make some amazing discoveries.
- If you lash out at your partner in anger, you might realize you’re actually afraid.
- If you judge and constrict your children, maybe you feel helpless as a parent or scared about what might happen to them.
- If you’re waiting for affection, you may be missing the opportunity to know yourself as already whole and complete.
Take any relationship that causes you stress or discomfort, and like a trail of breadcrumbs, follow your reaction back into yourself to its source. I can guarantee you your discovery will be illuminating.
Meeting Your Reactions for Harmony in Your Relationships
Often, the strong feelings that arise in our interactions echo an unresolved relationship from our past. If you were criticized by an overly demanding parent, it won’t take much for a boss correcting your work to seem like a tyrant in your eyes. If you were abandoned in your youth, a friend calling to cancel plans at the last minute may cause you to feel like you’re five again.
Any reaction that seems too intense for the situation at hand has undoubtedly triggered some old, undigested feelings.
What to do when these emotions are revealed? Acknowledge them. Experience how they feel in your body. Own them so they don’t complicate your interactions.
When you meet your emotions within yourself, you bring harmony to your relationships. You’re no longer sensitive and reactive. And you’re available to the deepest intimacy with all that is.
What About You?
How do you deal with your emotional reactions in your relationships? What happens when you own them? I’d love to hear… If you’re reading this by email, please click here to comment and to visit the new and improved GailBrenner.com.
Always in love,