One of my favorite kids’ movies is Inside Out. I got completely caught up in how creatively they conveyed deep psychological truths in a way that entertained kids and adults alike. I especially liked the fact that the characters impersonated our emotions. I mean who can’t have more compassion towards their sadness when she’s a cute, blue munchkin?
As someone who grew up in a culture where it was encouraged to sit my emotions on a bench in the corner and tell them to be quiet - I’ve spent a lot of my adulthood re-learning how to instead welcome them back onto the main stage. Maybe you’ve experienced some of the same?
Since I talk about dating and relationships here, l thought I’d ask you about your emotions this way: If your emotions were a character that you are dating, how would they say it’s going?
Would they express how loved and cared for they’ve felt? Or would they shuffle around the question and start to back off from texting you as much?
I ask because the way we relate to our emotions, can parallel how we relate inside a partnership and be super telling about our ability to attract and sustain a healthy one!
So take a deep breath for a moment and ask yourself……When you start to feel sad, do you let yourself feel it? Or do you serve it a glass of wine so that it will stay quiet? When you feel scared, do you ask yourself supportive questions to find out why? Or do you fill your schedule with more activities so you can’t hear what the fear is saying? When you feel angry, do you give the anger space to come out, or do you cut off it’s voice by moving away from conflict, and moving to a new place?
Are you kind to your emotions, thanking them for guiding you towards more insight? Do you respect them for the tender role they play within who you are?
If this is a struggle, I have 3 quick suggestions to improve your relationship with them.
Notice What You Feel: Whether you are a journaler or your record your thoughts on a technological gadget. Take some time over the next week or two to daily record what your feelings are. Sometimes we don’t even know what we are feeling.
Express Them: Whether you want to try practicing more on your best friend or the mailman. Tell them more often how something makes you feel. Start small. “I feel excited about the weather today.”
Honor their Input: When you are feeling uneasy about the way someone treated you or how a situation went down at work, let your feelings about it inform your actions. Though we don’t always have to act on all of our emotions, we can listen to them and then decide how to express our feelings in a way that can resolve problems or highlight injustice.
Unfortunately, sometimes as kids we learn to hide the most tender parts of ourselves. Yet, as much as we can honor our own emotions, we naturally begin to give others permission to feel and express their feelings too. When we begin creating this safe container within ourselves, it becomes the natural starting point to welcome this kind of safe container in a partnership where both partners welcome and validate each others’ emotions.
So when you start to feel sadness (as she teaches us in Inside Out) it’s important to allow yourself to love her too.
(I mean, look at her—how can you not?)