Have you noticed how the day looks longer and heavier when you are upset? It seems as if everything and everyone are out to get you. Kids took forever to get ready for school, traffic was unbearable, the guy in front of you didn't bother to hold the elevator door, your boss was being demanding, your colleagues were not friendly, the food was tasteless, weather has been giving you headaches the whole day. Your spouse is being annoying, and your kids are throwing endless tantrums. You feel exhausted and just want the day to end hoping that tomorrow will be better. Let me stop you right here and tell you two small things: 1. Chances are that if you go to bed still upset and frustrated, you will probably feel the exact same way when you wake up the following day. 2. If you look back, was everything and everyone that bad and dark? Or did your mood blur your whole day experience? I guess you know all this already. It is not magic, nor does it imply a complex scientific explanation. The way we feel and - most of all - the way we let our feelings pour out into our life, has a huge influence on how we experience things and people. If you can accept this, imagine the impact your feelings may have in getting others distant or close to you. No one wants to be around someone who is constantly angry and rude. The same is true for someone who carries a deep sadness and talks frequently about their sorrows. I remember this person who used to gossip at work every chance they got! People would laugh, just to talk behind their back a few minutes later. I never understood any of the sides. Why would you gossip about people you work with and risk a relationship for a good laugh? Or why would you laugh and then talk s*** behind that person’s back? From where I sat, the whole scenario was a bit pathetic. And when I was able to put my judgement aside, I realized how these two groups of people were unconsciously alienating others around them.
This led me to observe more attentively my surroundings and notice how do we let our feelings get in the way of our relationships, just to blame the subsequent distance on ourselves or on someone else. I see this happening in both the professional and personal sphere. For instance, when you get annoyed or frustrated with your boss or your colleague’s attitudes and start being blunt and unpleasant. Or when you get hurt by someone you love and either hide your discomfort away or project your pain into the other person. Or when you feel unhappy and keep others at arm’s length to avoid them knowing about the inner turmoil you are experiencing. In any of the examples above, you are distancing yourself from others. You may say you have good reasons and even put the blame on your feelings, but at the end you are cutting yourself the chance to build a more trustworthy and close relationship.
For the sake of what, I ask you? Because you feel hurt, sad, angry, frustrated, unhappy? I get it! You have feelings – it couldn’t get more human than this. Hiding behind your feelings may seem a safe strategy – and it could indeed be the case in certain toxic relationships (check the episode Keep or Lose a Connection with a toxic friend) – but it is not a good enough reason for it to become your pattern.
Let us look at the opposite scenario. Despite the extra effort, I believe this approach yields much more success in the long term. Next time you get frustrated by the way your boss or one of your colleagues behave, clear the air with kindness and then move on. If someone you love is mean to you, share your disappointment with them and treat them with the respect and empathy they were not able to show. If you feel worried or gloomy, instead of burying these feelings away, share them with a close friend or someone you trust.
Feelings can be powerful tools to tear apart or strengthen a relationship. Feelings can be powerful means to lose or keep a connection. No one is asking you to be happy and bright all the time. I guess you will find out the weight lifting from your shoulders when you start sharing your feelings…in a healthy way. Feeling mad does not mean start punching people, feeling unhappy is not equivalent of locking your sorrows away, feeling in love does not equal spending the whole day glued to each other. Feelings can make people grow apart or together. Which emotional path are you choosing?