Being hurt vs. Being heard
There are different goals people have when it comes to being in a relationship. The ideal scenario for a romantic relationship is when two people come together to fully accept each other as they are, being there for each other as a supportive mechanism throughout the time they are together. However, this scenario is not always the case.
The important question to consider is this: Do you want to be hurt or to be heard?
What I mean by that is that some people live great part of their lives in a victim role and they become so associated with the role of the victim, that they are (consciously or unconsciously) not interested in resolving their emotions, as maintaining the (however toxic) emotion in their lives feeds the identity of the victim.
Why would anyone want to be a victim?
People may stay in a victim role for a variety of reasons, including:
- Attention: Some people may feel that playing the victim role attracts attention and sympathy from others. They may feel that this attention provides them with a sense of validation and comfort.
- Low self-esteem: Individuals with low self-esteem may feel that they are not capable of overcoming their problems or taking control of their lives. This can lead to a victim mentality, where they feel powerless and helpless.
- Fear: Fear of change or fear of the unknown can keep people in a victim role. They may feel that taking responsibility for their lives and making changes would be too difficult or risky.
- Learned behavior: Some people may have learned a victim mentality from their upbringing or environment. They may have grown up in a household where the adults played the victim role, or they may have experienced trauma that reinforced a sense of powerlessness.
- Lack of support: People who do not have a support system or access to resources may feel trapped in a victim role. They may feel that they have no other options and are unable to make changes.
It's important to note that while some people may find comfort in a victim role, it can be detrimental to their mental health and overall well-being. It's important to work on building self-esteem, facing fears, and seeking support to overcome the victim mentality and take control of one's life.
Ok, some of you can see that they are playing a victim in a specific relationship. How can you break out of this pattern? First, you need to understand why it might be difficult to express emotions and then to understand why it's beneficial to express them effectively.
Why is it difficult to express our emotions?
There are several reasons why it can be difficult to express emotions effectively:
- Social and cultural conditioning: Many societies and cultures discourage the open expression of emotions, particularly negative ones. As a result, some people may feel uncomfortable expressing their emotions openly or fear being judged or rejected for doing so.
- Fear of vulnerability: Expressing emotions requires a level of vulnerability and can make individuals feel exposed and at risk of being hurt or rejected. This fear can make it difficult for people to express their emotions effectively.
- Lack of emotional awareness: Some individuals may not have developed the skills necessary to identify and understand their own emotions. This can make it challenging to express emotions effectively, as they may not fully understand what they are feeling or why.
- Difficulty finding the right words: Emotions can be complex and difficult to articulate, particularly if an individual is experiencing intense feelings. It can be challenging to find the right words to accurately express their emotions.
- Fear of conflict: Expressing emotions can sometimes lead to conflict, particularly if the other person doesn't respond positively or empathetically. Some individuals may fear conflict and may avoid expressing their emotions to prevent it.
With practice and the help of the 3 techniques shared below, you can develop the skills necessary to express your emotions effectively.
Why is it important to communicate effectively ?
Effectively communicating our emotions is important for several reasons:
- Enhancing Relationships: Communicating emotions helps to enhance our relationships with others by promoting understanding, empathy, and compassion. When we communicate our emotions effectively, we give others the opportunity to understand our perspectives, and we can better understand theirs.
- Resolving Conflict: Misunderstandings and conflicts often arise from a lack of effective communication. When we communicate our emotions, we can prevent misunderstandings and resolve conflicts before they escalate.
- Improving Mental Health: Emotions play a crucial role in our mental health. When we suppress or ignore our emotions, we may experience increased stress, anxiety, and depression. By effectively communicating our emotions, we can reduce stress and improve our mental well-being.
- Increasing Self-Awareness: Communicating our emotions can also help us become more self-aware. When we express our emotions, we gain a deeper understanding of our own feelings and motivations.Making Decisions: Our emotions often influence our decision-making. By effectively communicating our emotions, we can make more informed decisions that are aligned with our values and goals.
3 techniques to communicate emotions more effectively:
Somebody very wise once told me: “It takes only 10 minutes of courage to resolve all the issues we have with any person. Just 10 minutes of courage. But you need to be honest and authentic. Just 10 minutes.”
These are the 3 techniques that you can use to communicate your emotions fully and completely.
Technique #1: 10-Minute Alarm Technique
When we have trouble communicating what we feel to others, it is often the case we just don’t have enough space to express ourselves fully as the other person often interjects and maybe even defend themselves or offer different perspectives on our emotions. This technique can take care of that aspect. In this technique, two people take turns in expressing their emotions. Here’s how it works:
- Set an alarm for 10 minutes (You can decide to set an alarm for longer than 10 minutes, depending on the situation.)
- One person (talker) is expressing their emotions fully for the whole duration of the time, without being interrupted by the other person (listener).
- Once the alarm went off, the listener will start talking by repeating what they learned in the last 10 minutes. In their own word they review what the issue is, what are the emotions that the talker described and ask additional questions to make sure they understand the whole situation.
- The talker then provides additional information and confirms that the listener understands the situation and their emotions fully.
- Set an alarm for 10 minutes again and it’s the listener who talks now with the same rules applied.
- This technique continues until both parties reach a point when they feel everything has been expressed and understood by the other party.
Technique #2: Removing the Visual Aspect
Sometimes, especially in intimate relationships, it might be difficult for us to watch the other person sharing their emotions of hurt and sadness and anger without us wanting to say something, to console the other person, to try and help the situation. However, by interrupting the sharing of the other person, we sometimes do more harm to the situation than if we just stayed quiet.
One reason why this happens is that we can see the other person in front of us, we can see their facial expression, we can see the emotions flowing through them and we might feel compelled to “help” the situation somehow.
One good technique when sharing especially painful emotions with other is to remove the visual aspect from the conversations. There are 3 elegant ways to do it:
- You can go for a walk with the other person, not looking at each other, just paying attention to the path ahead.
- You can position yourself next to the other person so you both sit next to each other and agree that you will focus your eyes on a point in front of both of you (a candle, view in front of you like a starry night sky or a sunset etc.), not looking at each other, not paying attention to their face in particular.
- You can agree that you will share everything with your eyes closed. This is especially effective as you will remove all the visual stimuli and can really tune into your own emotional states and into the emotions of your partner/the other person.
Technique #3: Total Truth Process
The Total Truth Process is a communication technique developed by Jack Canfield, the co-author of the "Chicken Soup for the Soul" book series. The Total Truth Process can be used for communicating emotions effectively by providing a structured approach that promotes honesty, empathy, and constructive problem-solving. By following these steps, individuals can express their emotions in a way that is respectful and considerate of others, while also working towards resolving any issues or conflicts that may arise.
The process involves communicating our true and total feelings to the person we’re upset with. Often, when we are upset with someone, we get stuck at the level of anger or pain and don’t move past it into the emotional completion. The Total Truth Process allows you to process all the negative emotions and let go of them so that you can return back to a state of love and acceptance with the other person.
The Total Truth Process has 6 stages and it’s very important to spend equal amount of time on each one of these stages. This process can be done in person or as a letter written to the other person, where it’s again important to write the equal amount of text in each of the 6 stages. What is great about this process is that there is no need to share the letter with the other person, as it is us who is moving into the emotional completion, so participation of the other is not required, if we don't feel like it.
The 6 stages of The Total Truth Process
Here are the 6 stages and also some prompts how to communicate each of these stages.
- Anger and resentment
I don't like it . . . I’m angry that . . . I feel frustrated . . . I feel annoyed . . . I’m fed up with . . . I hate it when . . . I resent . . .
It hurt me when . . . I feel hurt that . . . I felt sad when . . . I feel disappointed about . . .
I was afraid that . . . I get afraid of you when . . . I feel scared when . . . I’m afraid that I . . .
- Remorse, regret, and accountability
I’m sorry that . . . I’m sorry for . . . Please forgive me for . . . I didn’t mean to . . .
All I ever want(ed) . . . I want(ed) . . . I want you to . . . I deserve . . .
- Love, compassion, forgiveness, and appreciation
I understand that . . . I forgive you for . . . I appreciate . . . Thank you for . . . I love you for . . .
Very useful approach with the Total Truth Letter (where you decide to write a letter instead of sharing your emotions in person) is to make a list of people who have hurt us in the past and then start writing the letter each of those people one by one. It is usally the case that the first on the list are parents and the spouse of the person, I also recommend writing one letter for ourselves, as there might be something that we need to let go of within ourselves as well. My experience and experience of number of my clients is that after writing a couple of letters and expressing their emotions completely, they suddenly don't feel hurt by the rest of the list and there is really no need to write the letters to all people on the list. Try it out for yourself and you will see!
The ideal communication technique
Communicating emotions is an important part of healthy relationships. It helps us understand each other and connect more deeply, which allows us to better support each other in times of need. But sometimes we get stuck in our emotions and don't know how to move forward after being hurt by someone else's words or actions.
The communication technique I use in my personal life is a combination of all 3 techniques I have shared with you in this article. Whenever I feel hurt by someone or someone feels hurt by me, I combine these 3 aspects:
- Communicate uninterrupted = 10-minute alarm technique
- Focus on emotional states = Removing the visual aspect (usually by having our eyes closed)
- Express complete range of emotions = The Total Truth Process
By combining these 3 techniques into one, you can not only empower yourself, so you don’t shy away from talking about emotions with the others, but to create a platform for communicating emotions effectively, fully and to the emotional completion.