The Next Time You Have A Problem, Try This
I love being a person that people call when they need help with a problem. By the time we’re in convo, it’s usually because the other person has a nagging sense of restless uncertainty related to the situation they’re going through. To me, it’s so satisfying to help others gain insight into whatever it is they’ve got going on. But whether it’s an argument with a friend or family member, an uneasy circumstance at work, or a personal issue with which they can’t find solace, there’s one thing these problems all have in common: the need to have an emotion named.
The reasons these issues pick at your awareness so much is because an emotion (or four) is trying to come through. And this makes you feel so scattered is because you haven’t yet named that feeling. Over the years I’ve seen the lightbulb come on for people as soon as they make the connection with what they’re feeling and how it relates to their problem. (Spoiler Alert: it’s usually an underlying feeling rather than one that is obvious.) More than a solution or resolution, what they’re actually searching for is a way to put words to they way they’re feeling.
If you’ve ever felt sad or angry or annoyed but you weren’t sure why, it’s likely because what you’re feeling is a side effect of feeling lonely or overlooked or not validated. Once you find that hidden emotion, the magic wand of clarity appears in your hand.
The good news is, after you have that piece of information, the answers typically fall right into place. Naming your feelings gives you back some of the power you’ve felt you lost to whatever struggle you’re experiencing. Additionally, a good understanding of your emotional response to a situation gives you a fat dose of clarity. Digging deep into what you’re feeling can guide your course of action and bring you newfound peace.
How To Better Understand What You’re Feeling
Even if you’re super in-touch with your emotions, it’s always a good idea to take a magnifying glass to your feelings when you’re tackling a big wax ball of a problem. The next time you can’t put your finger on why you’re bummed or angry or feeling stuck, try one of these ideas.
1. Write It Down
Write down the situation and notice if you have any emotional responses when you read it back. If you do, ask yourself why you feel this way. For example, you’ve written a paragraph outlining the fight you had with your sister and note that you feel sad when reading it. After asking yourself why you feel sad, you realize it’s because you actually feel betrayed that she shared an embarrassing story from childhood about you with her husband.
You might have to ask why a few times to see if anything comes up, but stick with it.
2. Examine Your Expectations
Did you have an expectation that wasn’t met in the situation? Perhaps you had your sweet little heart set on date night going a certain way and it went in the totally opposite direction. That sure can make a gal feel resentful and disappointed [she said from experience]. Check in with your expectations and see if your attachment to one particular outcome is generating the feelings you’re experiencing.
3. Ask Someone To Listen
At times, the answer is right under your nose, but you’re too close to see it. Give a trusted friend the chance to help you discover what’s right there by asking if you can bend their ear over pasta and vino. As you explain your situation, your friend may be able to pick up on the subtext of your emotions and help you put those confusing feelings into words.
It doesn’t matter how you get to the bottom of your feelings, the important thing is that you gain a deeper understanding into your experience that will help you move forward.