It’s often easy to express our feelings toward someone when they’re positive; for example “I love you”, “I’m proud of you”, or “you’re so easy to get along with.”Yet, we seem to stumble when it comes to expressing our thoughts and feelings that stem from frustration, anger, sadness and hurt. The importance of having these conversations can be crucial for creating more of what we actually want with the ones we love, such as intimacy, understanding, and trust.
But, how do we have these hard conversations without creating more conflict?
It starts with first getting honest about what you’re really feeling.
Often there are deeper feelings under our surface emotions from which we react. For example, maybe you’re feeling unappreciated for the free babysitting you’re providing. Resentment over time can feel a lot like anger on the surface, but with hurt bolstering it. See if you can get it down to one or two of the following feelings you’re truly experiencing: is it fear, anger, hurt, sadness or joy?
Next, identify what was important to you that triggered these emotions.
This may take a little more effort in being objective with yourself. Recently, a patient I was coaching explained how she would become angry when her husband didn’t help with the household cleaning. We collectively uncovered that she deeply valued a sense of partnership, and how she perceived partnership was equal share in household duties.
This leads to step three: Recognizing what it is you value and understanding how you tend to interpret it.
This is essential for seeing the space between action and perception, and allows for you to take the final step…
This is where the actual communication happens.
Using the example of feeling unappreciated for babysitting, the conversation might go something like this with your daughter: “I have a need for my time to be respected and the way that works for me is by communicating. When my schedule gets planned out without me knowing, I feel disrespected. I’d like to make a request that if you need to run errands after work, could you please check in with me first to make sure I don’t already have plans?”
In this example, the need was both identified and communicated, and a request was made. It takes courage to make a request because the other person can say “yes” or “no”. Be mindful that making demands or ultimatums will not get you the positive result you’re looking for. I suggest not holding them to a specific outcome, and truly just making the request and seeing how they respond.
Overall, the kind of vulnerability that goes into expressing your true feelings takes courage; yet it can create a magical space for the possibility of greater trust and intimacy in your relationships. For more information on how one of our Health Coaches can help you handle tough conversations with someone you love, contact Iora Primary Care. We’re here to help!