(and stop apologizing for them!)
“I’m sorry, it’s just how I feel.”
This particular statement has been a part of my vocabulary for quite sometime. It almost feels obligatory to say it after expressing how I feel. I mean, I should feel bad for having feelings, right?
What it truly makes me wonder is, do I actually feel bad about the way I feel?
Recently, I got into an argument with a co-worker who kept using language I found offensive. While explaining why I didn’t appreciate his way of expressing distaste for people, I managed to fit in, “I’m sorry, it’s just how I feel.”
It was in that moment that I realized I wasn’t truly sorry. Not even in the least bit. I decided to count how many times I apologized in the next few days. Eleven times. A couple times during an argument with my boyfriend, another with my dad, and add in a few more with friends, and there you have it.
I talked with a few people who believe saying ‘sorry’ after stating feelings is just a nice gesture.
“It’s to help the other person feel less bad about how you feel,” one person stated.
While certainly there might be some truth to that, what’s wrong with just saying how you feel and leaving it at that?
We aren’t truly sorry. It’s most often what we think the other person wants to hear. It’s as though we are trying to make that person feel at ease with our feelings. But why?
I am beginning to believe that it’s a reflection of the fact that we don’t even feel comfortable with our own feelings.
I begin condemning myself, belittling those feelings and making myself feel even worse. By the time I’ve come around to accepting that’s how I feel, I’m too emotionally exhausted to start dealing with those feelings.
It becomes a cycle of feeling bad about one thing, in turn to feel worse about another, then to be too tired to take care of those feelings.
Often, when building up the courage to let someone know my feelings about an issue concerning our relationship, I get tense, confused, and all sorts of emotional.
“Will he/she understand how I feel?
“How do I break it them?”
“What if he doesn’t get it?”
If I don’t own my feelings, others can tell. They can sense it.
And, what about those tears that sometimes come along with expressing ourselves?That certainly can cause more discomfort for both parties involved.
For instance, while I was still playing golf for my university, I had been torturing myself by not expressing to my coach how I felt about the way she treated me, until one day it all exploded.
I was a blubbery mess, mascara smeared, while repeatedly apologizing for my emotional outburst, and at the same time, asking her to be nice to me. The whole interaction was uncomfortable, not only because I couldn’t seem to get my words out coherently, but because I was obviously really hurt by her actions but somehow needed to express that I was sorry for feeling unhappy.
Owning your feelings is no easy task.
Sure, I can sit here and say that I am strong independent woman, and that I feel how I feel and that’s that. However, while my owning my feelings, I still have to show respect for others as well.
When I addressed my co-worker, I can admit, I wasn’t necessarily tactful about it. Instead of telling him that he sounded like an “ignorant prick,” then adding on that I was “sorry,” all I needed to say was, “When you use that type of language around me, it insults me. I would appreciate it if you didn’t talk that way around me.”
I would have gotten my message across, without adding insult.
Acknowledging your feelings does take some work and effort, but it’s worth it. While, albeit, this might sound a little crazy, have a conversation with your feelings. Kind of like this:
You can say, “Well, hello feelings. Glad you stopped by. What brings you here today?”
Feelings: “Well, you still have some unresolved issues. I can’t leave town until you know what they are.”
You: “Indulge me. I have been feeling, what’s the word...anxious, lately. I knew something was bothering me, but I wasn’t sure what. Please, go on.”
Then, your feelings might bring up memories of your childhood, or past abusive relationships, addiction, or a current heartache. But, because you don’t keep rejecting those painful memories or those situations that are real in your life, you’ll be able to face those feelings as though they were an old friend. It won’t be awkward. It won’t feel forced. You’ll do it because you know that the only way to ensure happiness is to deal with those uncomfortable emotions.
However, you have to treat your feelings with respect. If you keep disregarding them, each time they come back, they will be meaner and nastier. They’ll get agitated that you’re not paying attention to them and make their presence known at the most inopportune times.
Painful feelings become more potent and powerful when you sit and dwell on them without taking any steps to resolve your emotions. The more excuses we make to not deal with them, the rejection they feel will manifest into bigger and uglier problems.
When you treat your feelings with respect, you in turn are respecting yourself because those feelings are a part of you and if you reject your feelings, you, in turn, are rejecting yourself.
If we sat back and truly examined our feelings, most of the time we will find ourselves justified for having them. Feelings are there for a reason. They aren’t just like the big-bang theory where they just seem to appear.
So, today I’m going to give my feelings a little love today by owning and cherishing them. I’ll apologize when I have something to apologize for, like to my editor, Natalie.
Sorry my article is late!
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