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Healthy Relationships -  Gain the Benefits of Managing Feelings Well - Here's How You Can Proceed

Greatly Improve The Quality & Success of Your Relationships with These Strategies for Managing  Feelings

I n relationships that work well, the participants use strategies for managing feelings.

These subjective emotions well-managed contribute to relationships that seem like they were made in heaven; poorly managed or not managed at all, they can result in relationships that seem like they were made in - well, you know, that other place that's really hot!

The game plan for managing emotions in each relationship will necessarily have some aspects that are unique to that relationship.  After all, we are individuals, we are all different ages and stages, our backgrounds are unique, our goals and plans are our own, our roles with each other vary etc. So a way of proceeding with a long-term, trusted friend will be - and needs to be - very different from the plan of action with a stranger.  Indeed, taking into account that this person is your boss/ your best friend/ your intimate partner/ your casual acquaintance/ your child/ your parent is central to having the game plan work well. 

That said, there are some commonalities to keep in mind, and they are quite basic.  In fact, you knew them when you were an infant, even though the chances are you've forgotten some or even all of them.  So it's worth revisiting them, the better to be sure to include them in creating successful emotional management strategies in each of your many relationships. 

Why revisit what you knew as an infant about managing emotions? Because as an infant, your life depend ed on creating successful relationships   Think about it - without a successful relationship you simply would not have survived!

Also, as an infant, you couldn't distract yourself from feeling states like you can as an adult.  Like it or not, your life revolved around feelings. In fact, that's one way to describe your life as an infant -moving from one feeling state to another - hungry, tired, satisfied, uncomfortable, needy, mad, happy, scared, content. In short, you had only the communication of your emotional state with which to build the relationships on which your life depended.

Which is why it's worth reviewing what your infant self knew about the role of your emotional states in building successful relationships.

Here are some primary points you knew then.  Keep them in mind as you go about developing effective game plans for managing emotional states in your relationships now:

1. Feeling is central to being alive. Everybody you have a relationship with is alive and therefore has feelings, even though they have different styles of dealing with them. Emotional states are as fundamental as breathing.

2. Communicating feelings is as natural and basic as breathing. As an infant, you just flat-out expressed your emotional experience without apology. You included these states as the central part of your relationships. What this means is that conveying and receiving messages about these states was normal then and is still both natural and normal.

3. Having feeling states accurately received and accepted - by ourselves - and by another - is massively comforting
.   As an infant, you communicated feelings non stop... until.... yes, UNTIL you experienced you'd been accurately received by another person. Then you felt sooooo much better.

That doesn't change just because you're an adult.  You still want your emotional state to be accurately received and interpreted, both by yourself, and by others.

What this means is that a successful emotional management strategy in each relationship still  includes receiving and accurately interpreting feelings - both your own, and those of others.  The goal as an adult is to learn to do it well, and in ways that are appropriate to the various situations and relationships you have now.

A good place to start is with yourself.  Simply identifyand acknowledge your own feeling state. For example: 

  • "I'm so mad right now, on a scale of one to ten I'm an eleven."  
  • "That scared me so much I'm shaking."  
  • "I know I'm anxious, I just don't know what I'm anxious about... yet." 

A next step is practicing this skill with another, so that you learn to accurately identify and acknowledging their feeling state:

  •  "Wow, you're really mad about this, huh!"  
  • "That sounds terrifying, were you (are you )scared? 

A third step is to check for accuracy. If you're not sure whether you correctly identified the feeling state of another person, you might consider gently asking for clarification if it is appropriate in that relationship and if the situation is conducive to it: "Are you sad? (Mad? Glad? Scared?) about this? "Are you saying you're hurt that...."

Fourth, stop immediately if you notice any tendency  to:

  • Compete.  Some people operate under the hidden rule that only one person can feel, and they will fight to the death to be that person.  Don't be one of them. And if you find they insist on playing that game, well, you might want to reconsider your involvement.
  • Escalate above the other person's feeling state.  Feelings are not cudgels with which to bludgeon another person.  Put your weapons down and communicate instead. There are no losers when people share feelings honestly - only winners.
  • Overpower, interrupt or in any way block or obliterate.  Having feelings- even strong ones- is not an invitation to a contest.  Everybody feels and everybody deserves to be heard.

Fifth, people grow and change and situations change too, which means that the game plan you made at the outset of the relationship will need updating.  That's why it's better to think of  feeling-management-strategies as an ongoing processes rather than something that's established and then set in stone.

Last, there will be relationships in which it is simply not safe or appropriate to either communicate your own feelings or to even acknowledge those of others.  This is a sad but simple fact of life.  Learn to differentiate the times, places and relationships where it's safe  and appropriate - and be sure you have plenty of relationships in your life where exchanges about the feeling states of the parties involved are both safe and welcome.

Developing effective  feeling-management strategies, you will dramatically improve the quality of your relationships.  You will also almost magically transform them into more supportive relationships. You will increase emotional intimacy, increase your sense of satisfaction, reduce relationship difficulties, diminish relationship stress. And, you will significantly lessen the chances that unexpressed feelings might sabotage those relationships. 

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Tags: healthy relationships successful relationship relationship success relationship help relationship trouble improve a relationship improve relationships relationship difficulties relationship intimacy relationship stress emotional intimacy

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