• Anne Ward

The Language of Feelings

Dealing with emotions is a large part of life. Emotions can make us feel happy, sad, angry or elated. Emotions can also be confusing. Most of what we learn about emotions comes from our early family experiences. Families have unspoken rules that set the norms for how family members should behave, including how to deal with emotions. Examples are: keep your feelings to yourself; don’t ever disagree; keep the peace; always be nice and people will like you; blame yourself if things aren’t right; anger is bad; the loudest person will get the most attention.

We take these rules into relationships outside our family environment, without realising that our rules may be different to others. When differences of opinion or disagreements arise, people can find themselves having strong emotional reactions – feeling hurt, disrespected or insecure. Responses can be, try to escape, pretend nothing is wrong, become aggressive, or remain calm and able to keep a dialogue going. Being able to stay open to emotions is an important skill.