The following information is a section from the page "Communication Skills Parts 3".
Identifying and Resolving Fears in Relationships
Your feelings are a gift, bringing you information about yourself. Without this information (whether comfortable or uncomfortable), your experiences would lack an awareness and experience of your inner self. Feelings help expose the depth of who you are, beyond your thoughts alone. While thoughts create feelings, feelings can exist after thoughts fade. Thus, your feelings are like a record of your subjective experiences. Bring awareness to your feelings to increase your clarity, choice, and creation of who you are and where you are heading on your amazing journey!
Feelings are information. They do not tell you what to do. They do tell you your emotional temperature in a given situation. If feelings are ignored, the information they could provide is not available and ignorance results. The feelings themselves do not evaporate. Feelings are messages from you, to you. Ignoring them can result in intensified messages in your own unconscious effort towards self understanding. Increasing emotional discomfort may be an indication you are not paying enough attention to the information feelings are offering. Or the discomfort may indicate you are giving attention to the feelings, yet not acting in your best interest.
When we experience hurt, rejection, and/or loss, we may develop an unhealthy emotional attachment to the experience. Believing future emotions are dependent on present experience creates an unhealthy dependence on (attachment to) the experience. Do not depend on the emotion in the experience. Instead, utilize thoughtful consideration: determine what to take from the experience into the future (lessons, new boundaries, facts, a clearer understanding of another's ways, etc). As we go forward in time, unhealthy emotional attachments to the past can be thought of as emotional scar tissue. The scar tissue blocks healthy connection to the present. Emotional attachments to the past create a skewed perception of the present, potentially promoting isolation from current relationship opportunities. Thus, misguided perceptions are self fulfilling, as one feels additional hurt, rejection, and/or loss due to current emotional isolation. Emotional attachments to the past block emotional connections in the present.
The more one perceives emotional isolation, the more emotional scar tissue builds, and the more fear of vulnerability operates. An underlying fear of vulnerability, helplessness, or loss of control may project into the world as an attitude of toughness or over control.
Some signs of emotional attachment:
- believing present happiness is dependent on history
- ruminating about the past
- investing emotional energy into the past
- clinging to the thought the past should be different than it is
- choosing feelings to author memories
- letting feelings set the course of an experience
- letting feelings dictate actions, rather than using thoughtful consideration from a clear perspective
Loving feelings towards others can be covered up by unhealthy emotional attachments. You may be so angry at someone it is difficult to feel love for the person. To break through unhealthy attachment, figure out what you are angry about. Reconsider how you will let the past effect the present. Unhealthy attachments to the past can be due to believing your happiness in the present was dependent/is dependent on someone/something external. However, people and events merely trigger what exists within yourself. Knowing this can reduce unhealthy beliefs about experiences, and increase the power to see meaning in experiences. You can't erase painful memories; but you can decide whether to define yourself as a helpless victim of the past, or as a person able to let go of dis-ease.
Events of the past do not have to interrupt your happiness. Your perception of your experience is your emotional compass. Don't choose to see yourself as helpless. Choose to accept what happened, accept you can't change it, and know you can learn from it. Give meaning and purpose to your past experiences, to be able to see your whole life as meaningful. Free yourself from emotional investment against the people you think are responsible for pain in your life (including any emotions you hold against yourself). As you do this, you further a sense of control for your life today. Let go of resentment, guilt, accusation, and blame attached to the past, to allow yourself the freedom, energy, wisdom, and power to form healthy relationships in the present.
If you believe expressing closeness makes you less of a person, you will fear closeness. Thinking "men have to be tough" ... "softness is weak"... "men are logical, women are emotional" creates unreasonable perceptions and expectations, encouraging you to shut down feelings. These beliefs, which are sometimes called " unspoken rules," ignore the reality that men and women experience the same feelings. Do you ever think this way? Do others in your relationships have these beliefs? Awareness is a place to start healing from misperceptions.
You block yourself from expressing closeness when you think "I have to be right" ... "I have to be one-up" ... "I have to prove you are wrong or bad." These thoughts come from a competitive attitude. A healthy attitude strives to make the relationship empowering for both people. If you are afraid to admit your limitations, or if you have to have the only "right" answer, you fear closeness.
Do you avoid expressing feelings when you do not know what the response will be? You will fear closeness if you do not know you can cope with the discomfort which may arise from responses to your openness and honesty. Being open and honest are strengths. When you tell your truth, no matter the response, your truth is strength in and of itself.
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!