Validating Each Other's Emotions
BY: T. Franklin Murphy | November 2015
True communication proceeds from the heart; not the mouth. The bonds of love strengthen when we feel felt by our partner.
Communication is essential for healthy relationships; yet often neglected. True communication requires more than rattling off words. Deep communication is a connecting of souls where thoughts and feelings leap from one person to another—a commune between spirits where words often fail.
Many people struggle, missing this lesson in childhood; often because there were no skilled teachers available. The baby is a bundle of feelings first, long before words arrive.
Words just facilitate communications of the feelings, often the sounds fail, a weak medium for conveying complex feelings. Sharing emotions is complicated when we barely know what we are feeling—we ache but don’t know why; so, we blindly react, exploding to trivial triggers.
"Daniel Siegel, who coined the term interpersonal neurobiology, uses the concept of “feeling felt” to describe the ability of one person to empathically and authentically encounter another person."
Robyn Penmen | Center for Intercultural Dialogue
Lost in blindness, many relationships express undefined feelings with manipulations, projections and heated words—this is not open communication.
Beyond the words, there must be understanding—understanding of feelings. The feelings felt often get lost in words that vaguely convey an underlying personal experience. We want to be felt. We want to be accepted. We don’t want to emerge victorious from a battle of words. The win is meaningless if we still feel unnoticed and misunderstood
Emotional Communication: Communication that extends past words integrating the internal experience of both partners. Emotions are recognized, understood and respected.
A hidden theme beneath most intimate communications is, “Can I count on you?” While unspoken, the search for attachment and acceptance strongly influences human interactions, especially with intimate partners and family.
"'Feeling felt' implies empathy paired with acceptance and presence. It engenders not only understanding, but also resonance."
Sharon | Partners in Healing
The search for compassionate acceptance gets smashed against the wall of despair when small concerns ignite a heated battle of wills. Instead of a quick response, or defensive reaction, we must reply to the bid for safety, even when the hazy words trying to express a want are unclear.
With effort, we can step back and see the distress even when the words don’t match. We should respond to the distress, not the words.
When partner communication validates our experience, closeness and fondness is fostered.
Open communication solidifies bonds and builds trust—required for intimacy. The healing salve of connection isn’t won through stinging remarks, and words that pierce the hardened heart of a lover. We build connection through a much deeper communication—in a smile, in a touch, in understanding. The feeling of being felt heals wounds, opens minds, and creates trust.
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