The following information is a section from the page "Communication Skills Parts 3".
Communication is an expression of 'awareness' and 'experience'. 'Experience' is how you are effected by what has happened, or is happening. 'Awareness' is your recognition of your thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, images, and memories. The more you are aware of yourself, the more you are able to express yourself clearly to others, and to recognize similar experiences of others.
Feelings are complex reactions involving physical and psychological responses. Thoughts have chemical responses. These chemicals are experienced through various parts of the body. Hence, we notice a feeling correlating with a physical response. Thinking someone is about to attack you may produce adrenaline (needed for expending physical energy), often creating a fight or flight experience. Thoughts of past abuse may create a tightening of muscles, experienced as anger or fear; increased sweat may correlate with fear; relaxation with relief; and abdominal distress with resentment. Changes in the body are often noticed before changes in mood are identified. In this way, the body may give clues before the feelings are obvious.
Feelings can alert us to danger, helping us survive and stay healthy. Some feelings function as indicators of our physical, mental, emotional, and social health.
Feelings are created by thoughts about people, places, things, and ideas. When thoughts are unhealthy, uncomfortable feelings may form. Many thoughts, opinions, and points of view are learned from life experiences. When we aren't getting what we want, we experience uncomfortable feelings. To feel better, reevaluate strategies or priorities. It may be best to change the thought, opinion, and point of view to meet goals in a more healthy way (to achieve a new perspective, increased acceptance, decreased judgment, a life lesson, a higher goal, a new insight). Be empowered: thoughts can create feelings; thoughts can be changed.
Thoughts are like thermostats. Thoughts set our attitude to create our feelings.
Feelings are like thermometers. Feelings give us information about our state of being.
To best communicate feelings:
- Be aware of what you are feeling and the thoughts creating your feelings.
- Take time to be clear in your mind regarding the goal(s) of your communication.
- If needed: clarify goals with a friend, write your goals, role play the conversation before having it.
Provide a clear expression of your feelings and thoughts. (Words are symbols, helping others understand your awareness and experience.)
- For example, saying "I'm feeling upset right now, and I would like you to listen to me" communicates both a feeling and a request.
- Do not assume another person knows how you feel or what you want.
- It is your responsibility to express yourself.
If you are feeling angry or frustrated, express yourself to the other person. This creates an opportunity to discuss and resolve potential issues. Before doing this, know your goal(s) for the discussion. If the other person will not cooperate in resolving issues, express your thoughts and feelings to someone who can help you resolve your feelings of anger and frustration.
It is often difficult to express uncomfortable feelings (sadness, anger frustration, confusion, disappointment, etc.). Typically, people are not encouraged to express these feelings. When not recognized, expressed, and acknowledged in productive ways, these feelings can grow from the inside out, forcing expression in unproductive ways at inopportune times. Feelings held inside may seem to lie dormant. However, they can act like a poison to self awareness and experience. Ignored feelings can obstruct your ability to think, feel, and express clearly.
Expressions of feelings may be met with invalidating responses: "You shouldn't feel that way," or "Don't tell me feelings like that". No matter what you predict the response will be, it is your responsibility to express yourself in most situations. (Some exceptions: situations that may become abusive; or, when the other person has made it clear they are not interested in knowing more about you).
Stay aware of your feelings. Do not try to push them away, cover them up, or pretend they do not exist. They are information for you, about you. No matter how uncomfortable they may be, feelings are a gift, a way of knowing yourself more deeply. For others who care about you, your feelings are a precious piece of information about how to connect with you in a more intimate way. Becoming more aware of yourself and others leads to increased acceptance and caring. You cannot avoid all conflicts and disagreements; but you can resolve them in a more productive and loving way.
Feelings are not to be argued about or judged. Feelings are indicators/barometers to be recognized as helpful information. To argue about a feeling is like arguing about the reading of a thermometer. When one person does not accept another's feelings as real, the result is usually unnecessary conflict.
Feelings are indicators of whether needs and desires are being met in healthy ways. Feelings do NOT inform you how to act in a situation. For example, you may want the other person to agree with your point of view. He/she may see your point of view as naive. In response, you may feel hurt and distant from the other person, wanting to avoid him/her (potential action). Your feelings, like a thermometer, let you know you are uncomfortable. Your feelings also tempt you to be distant from the other person (potential action). Remember, your feelings are the thermometer, not the decision maker. Do not use feelings alone to decide your actions. Your mind is the thermostat...Your mind must decide the best course of action, using the feeling (thermometer) as one indicator of the environment. The mind must see from a larger context than simply the feeling. The mind must also consider the goal of connection, understanding, and more. Thoughtful consideration reveals it is necessary to interact with the other person in order to determine what is wrong, how you both feel and think, and how to solve the problem. In this situation, your feelings give information about an unmet need or desire; they are not useful in deciding what to do to solve the problem. In this situation, using your feelings alone to decide what to do (be distant) could make the problem worse.
Expressing feelings can help you:
- sooth uncomfortable feelings
- gain greater self control
- increase closeness in the relationship
Not expressing feelings can cause you:
- more intense and confused feelings
- misunderstanding in the relationships
- physical problems
- feelings of helplessness and isolation
Your feelings are crucial information about You. Without this information, you would lack an awareness of your inner self - the depth of who you are beyond your thoughts alone. Remember while thoughts create feelings, the feelings stay beyond the thoughts. In each moment, choose your thoughts wisely, in order to create healthy feelings. Feelings are like a record of how you have perceived experiences. Be aware of your thoughts and feelings to increase clarity, choice, and creation of who you are and where you are heading on your amazing journey!
Over time, as you approach communication more effectively, you will be more able and confident expressing yourself. Choose how you connect with others. You are connected, so create the connections you desire!