5 Feelings We Hate Feeling

ACCEPTANCE, understanding, appreciation, inclusion, and being valued; all states of feeling we crave for in a social world. But the world is also a harsh place where we all get to experience the opposites of these five states of feeling.

Five feelings we hate feeling:

1. We hate feeling rejected – the feeling of rejection is akin to abandonment, which speaks of the absence of care and/or conditionality in love. If a person needs to do something specific to be loved, they quickly discover they’re not worthy of love on their own terms. Acceptance on the other hand is about unconditional love.

2. We hate feeling misunderstood – this was a particular weakness I had that I felt quite vulnerable about – until I met a biblical counselling professor who suffered the same weakness. I discovered we all suffer it to some degree. None of us like it when people assume they know us or understand us when they don’t. Understanding a person is one of the quickest ways of building intimacy in the relationship.

3. We hate feeling unappreciated – everyone does things that are appreciable. Being recognised, or having our work recognised, is important. When others are recognised and we are not we cannot help noticing the partiality. Appreciating people for the small things they do is a great way to elicit respect.

4. We hate feeling excluded – like feeling rejected, not being included sends a clear message we’re not good enough. The Pharisees loved their exclusivity. And anyone playing the same game reveals their insecurity. Note the paradox: the insecure exclude others, making them feel insecure, to feel better and more secure about themselves. Secure people on the other hand have no problems including others, especially the outliers.

5. We hate feeling undervalued – nobody is worthless, for all have supreme worth, but we can be made to feel worthless. It is good to discern those who have worth issues and find ways to truly value them.

The simple message is this: when it comes to other people accept them, understand them, appreciate them, include them, and value them.

Wherever possible, as far as it depends on us, we should surround ourselves with people who are about acceptance, understanding, appreciation, inclusion, and valuing people. Such people are breath, hope, light, and life.

The more we recognise the need of positive feelings in ourselves, the more we’re prepared to invest positive feelings into others’ lives.

Navigating Challenging Relationships Over the Holidays

The holidays are rapidly approaching and can be a time of joy and a chance to reconnect with family and friends. But for many it can also be a time of stress due to strained relationships, unhappy memories of the past, too much to do and not enough time to rest. In addition, there can also the feelings of disappointment or failure stemming from the expectation that our holidays should be “perfect” like those seen in movies, commercials and social media. Unfortunately, many families and friends are also experiencing strained relationships over the increasing polarization of views in the country today. The good news is there are several tools we can use to manage the holidays and difficult relationships this year.

Awareness is first!

Before the holidays begin, take time to think about what you would like to be different this year. Before we can plan, we need to become aware of what our goal is, so we can set up a way to work toward it. Be as specific as possible and list what you would ideally like from your relationships. The list can also include what you do not want to happen. As you make these lists, tune into how your mind and body are reacting. If thinking about visiting your in-laws makes your neck stiffen or if going to see your Aunt Jane makes you feel excited, write that down as well. Noticing cues can help us create a plan that will increase our enjoyment of the season.

Become curious about your reactions.

Now that you have made your list, become curious about what the positives and negatives are in the relationships you have examined. Asking yourself questions like “what exactly causes my neck to stiffen when think of visiting my in-laws?” can help with planning how to do something different. Tune into your feelings and notice what arises. Maybe you feel judged or criticized or maybe just disappointed because you have different expectations than those you are with at the time. Do certain people trigger negative reactions? Noticing will help you understand your unmet needs and negative feelings.

Examine your list and begin to plan.

By examining the lists, we can begin to challenge our assumptions. This will give us information about just how important things are and if we are doing them because we feel we “should” or because we want to do them. It can also help us to see what we value and how we can use our values to help us navigate tricky situations. If we feel physically ill when we visit certain people or filled with dread before going, is it necessary that we go. What would happen if we did not? If we feel we must go, is there a way we could do it differently? For example, is instead of going to a three-hour dinner at Aunt Jane’s while trying to manage your 2-year-old or getting drawn into a political debate, maybe we could stop in before dinner for a drink or go by for dessert. Good boundaries are essential for keeping relationships positive.

Plan for challenging situations! If we must visit people who we know will be challenging, consider using these strategies:

  • Plan to get plenty of rest before you go. When we are depleted it is harder to deal with difficult people. Even taking 5 minutes to rest in your car can be helpful.
  • Have an exit strategy when you have had enough and use it when you need to. Even if it is to go in another room and wash dishes it is better than remaining in a situation where you feel triggered.
  • Take a breathing break. Head into a quiet place and take 10 breaths. Allowing for this pause will help us respond instead of reacting in a habitual way.
  • Assume positive intention in others. Many misunderstandings start when we assume the other party has a negative intention. If they do, stay calm and respond in a kind but firm way that you are uncomfortable with their comment.
  • Model positive behavior. Steer clear of gossip, judgements and strong “my way or the highway” opinions to keep the interaction positive.

And finally reward yourself for your effort. Plan something fun to celebrate the steps you have taken to do something different this year!

A Social Truth That Can Set You Socially Free

LOOKING into his eyes, I saw it. He is a confident, mature young man; a leader comfortable in himself. No real visible fear in him.

Yet, there was a glimpse into his very human heart that showed me we have the capacity to draw social confidence from this truth: every person, no matter how confident they appear, is vulnerable to rejection.

We know it as we understand ourselves. We all crave acceptance. We’ll all driven to comparison. We may falsely believe we’re alone in our disadvantage; that nobody else feels quite as vulnerable as we do. It’s a lie. Change anyone’s circumstances to the negative and their light darkens. They enter a turmoil any human being finds challenging. And it’s their character that determines their response.

As we encounter our fellow human being, male or female, old or young, advantaged or disadvantaged, we encounter someone like us. We’re more the same than we’re different.

As we look into another person’s eyes, curious to peer into the windows of their soul, inherently interested in them, we can gain confidence that we are in fact encountering a form of ourselves.

Because they’re human and we too, also, are human, we grasp how tenuous interaction is – we know we can upset them as they too might be able to upset us. See how all people are vulnerable? See how our fear for upsetting people is our acknowledgement that they’re vulnerable – that we’re not the only vulnerable ones.

We all have the capacity for fear because we all need to love and be loved. Understand this about the person we’re anxious with and suddenly we’re less anxious.

Social anxiety builds when we magnify our vulnerabilities and lessen another’s. But we are all vulnerable.

Humanology for Couples – Personal Development

Those who know us also know that we haven’t had it easy, with quite a few heavy hurdles on the way. But here we are, still together and yes, happy. That’s why I decided to share some of the things that work for us with you. I hope they can help you be together and happy, too.

The most important basic element in our couple is that we CHOSE to share our lives and grow together. We both DECIDED to walk TOGETHER in this life. That means that we both support one another and share goals and dreams. Neither of us walks and the other one follows. No, we WALK TOGETHER. Every time there’s something new in our lives, be it something in his or in mine, we sit together and discuss it. We then decide what to do. Once again, together.

This all means that our paths are constantly aligned. We make the effort and take the time to make sure that we’re both on the same page. My husband obviously has his goals and dreams. I have my own, too. But what we do is, we make sure that his reaching his and my reaching mine somehow helps us both or at least doesn’t impact the other one negatively. For example, we both work. We try to organize our trips abroad in such a way that one of us is at home, keeping things running. When I go, he stays and takes over. When he goes, I stay and take over. He understands that my professional fulfilment and development is as important to me as his is to him.

My husband often says that a relationship would be very unrewarding if the other person didn’t feel fulfilled and had nothing to share with his/her partner. That doesn’t mean that we should all work outside of home or pursue professional goals. No. What we mean by that is that both partners in a relationship should be able to feel fulfilled in all important aspects of their lives. If a person feels happy staying at home and the couple can live like that, by all means, go for it! If both need to work outside because professional development is an important aspect for both, try and find a way to make it happen. Healthy, solid couples are based on healthy, solid human beings and, to be so, each member of a couple needs to feel like they’re living a rewarding life. If one of the partners feels dissatisfied, unchallenged, bored, hopeless, the couple will surely suffer and probably fail.

Do you know what your other significant other wants in life? Are you sure he/she is getting it or at least pursuing it? And you, do you feel fulfilled, rewarded, satisfied? Are you doing what you want?

There will be times in which one member of the couple might have to do things just to help the other partner reach his/her goals. That’s OK as long as it’s a joint decision and one which doesn’t perpetuate any disadvantages or unhappiness for either partner. Sit together. Speak about your dreams. Listen to one another! Try to find some common ground and common goals and dreams. Then, make a plan. Yes, take some paper and a pen and write down a plan to help both fulfil your dreams together or your individual dreams in conjunction and mutual support, without either suffering. Look for synergies that might push both of you forward. If only one of you is moving forward and reaching goals, the plan will end up failing sooner or later.

Any couple wanting share a life should be a team of two. Later, maybe, a team of more. But as a team, all decisions should be taken together, bearing the wellbeing of both, the team and its members, in mind. If only one of the members of the team is happy, the team will end up breaking up. As simple as that.

Some people tell me, ‘I love to sacrifice myself for my partner and make sure he/she reaches goals. That makes me happy.’ Does it, truly? I respond. If helping your partner reach goals makes you happy and fulfilled because you have no goals of your own, there’s something missing. What do YOU want? If helping your partner reach goals makes you happy and fulfilled because your partner then makes you feel appreciated and loved and that’s what you TRULY want, great, go for it! But because YOU want it.

My first tip for a healthy, long-lasting relationship is then, to make sure that both partners lead what they consider fulfilling, rewarding lives. If one of you is not, sit down together and figure out what is preventing that.

Come back for more ideas on long-lasting relationships. I will be publishing some more articles these coming weeks. Feel free to share them as well, if you think they could help somebody you know.