Does Expressing Your Feelings Lead To Disagreement?
Written by Martina Hughes
How many times have you walked away from a discussion that turned into an argument with your partner thinking “but I was only expressing my feelings…”?
I experienced this many times in the past… Typically, I would have spent some hours to a few days in my head, planning what I was going to say. Working out the things he had done wrong. I might have even written it out in my journal. I definitely wasn’t paying attention to my feelings or looking more deeply inside of me.
I was looking for what he had done wrong. What did I need? What did I want from him? - These questions would sit underneath, driving my inquiry. I wasn’t connected to my feelings. I wasn’t showing how I felt. There was no vulnerability, and I wasn’t being clean about my needs and wants. I was using this “discussion” to try to get him to see it my way.
In that, I also wasn’t recognizing there was another human in front of me, a man… I wasn’t allowing space for his feelings, his needs, and his wants.
This way wasn’t working for me, and it wasn’t working for the women around me.
I eventually found the courage to get really honest, clean and clear with myself.
For me, the vulnerability was overwhelming, to consider my contribution and role in the situation was too painful, so I would push it aside, and keep my attention on him.
What I can see now is that I was being:
• Analytical and critical of my partner
• Avoidant of my own feelings
• Discreetly adding resentment and blame within my analysis of what had happened
I knew I had to find a new way, and I did…
Now I notice when I am having uncomfortable feelings, and acknowledge, show or express them.
I have learnt to show or say what it is I am feeling even when it’s something small and I think it’s not worth paying attention to.
This has been challenging, I still have some lingering thoughts that “I shouldn’t worry about the little things, I should let them slide.”
However, my past experience has shown me that it’s always the little things that trip me up in a relationship. The little things that I thought I could brush aside would always turn into big things.
I was unconsciously collecting all the little things until I had enough of them to build a case against my partner.
If you are curious to know, building a case against your partner does not work! It’s not a pathway to intimacy.
Why do I share all of this?
Because I have seen that I am not alone in this; it is a trap for many women. To hold back… hold back… convince ourselves that we don’t need to say anything… avoid our feelings because “they’re bad and cause trouble”… and then… BANG!
All the emotions and feelings come spilling out at once and the man doesn’t know which way to turn, what is going on or why, and how the hell do I use this information to navigate?
And generally, these emotions and feelings have a lot of charge, blame and resentment packaged up in them. A mix that has been brewing, possibly for months or years. It is worth noting, this is also not a pathway to intimacy.
Nowadays, if I can feel that I have built up blame and I don’t know how to get myself out of it, I will say to my partner: “This is blamey - but it’s going around in my head and I need to say it.”
Which means I take ownership of my blame. He and I know that I am in a process, and that there are some strong charges and resentments built up in it.
It allows my partner to be able to meet me in the conversation without getting his defences up.
He can feel that I am working on emptying things out.
I also hold the awareness to keep it as simple as possible, to stick to “I feel” statements, such as ‘I feel angry, I feel sad, I feel scared’ - without making it about him.
Generally, the more words I am using the more I am creating a story and defence around the situation.
I will also show my partner how the feelings are felt in my body using sound and movement - roaring, crying, moving it through as pure energy - without pushing that energy onto him.
I can rage in such a way that the roar rips through my body - through my vagina, heart, and throat and has an energy of containment about it. Leaving both of us free of it.
If I am still in a space of blame, I may rage in a way that pushes the anger like arrows through his aura and body, leaving him feeling attacked and accused.
I choose the first option here - knowing that my feelings need to be seen and felt, they do not need to be used as weapons.
Weaponizing our emotional experience and directing our hurt and pain at our partner will destroy the intimacy we have created, leaving a sense of having to build something back up rather than building on top of something already established and making it bigger and better.
Internally, we all crave this type of relationship. We just need to cultivate the skills and capacity to be with the longing and yearning.
As a summary, my suggestions for women reading this are:
Own Your Feelings
Own your uncomfortable feelings, without going into story, keeping it as simple as possible.
For example, “I feel sad, I feel angry, I feel confused”. Typically when people say “I feel that … is happening” or “I feel like you don’t…” - it is a judgement or opinion, not a feeling. If you hear yourself saying this, pull yourself up and return to expressing pure feelings.
Own Your Blame
Own any blame and resentment present, this way it doesn’t poison the pool of the relationship.
Show Your Feelings
Express your feelings through your body in a way they can be seen, felt, and heard. Less words and analysis, more feeling, sound and movement.
Practicing expressing yourself in a way that takes responsibility for your own experience frees the both of you up for a deeper, more intimate connection.
With Love, Martina
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