Own Your Feelings

They don’t belong to any one else. No one gave them to you. They are yours. Own them.

As an observer shadowing Toto and the century practice team yesterday, they were talking about trust and the importance of becoming a master repairman if you want to be part of a high performing team. When a highly respected team member questioned how to repair trust from an incident that hurt her feelings I heard a common refrain:

“…he MADE me feel ________”

Reflecting on a challenge by Toto to me last week that stung, I asked the team to listen to these two statements and tell me the difference.

1. “Toto made me feel hurt when he challenged me.”

2. “When Toto challenged me, I felt hurt.”

Do you see the nuance? Which one sounds like a victim? Which one comes from a stronger core?

Because a huge part of our human nature is eMOTIONal, feelings arise involuntarily when confronted by some event or interaction which could be external or internal. Whether that “something” is real or only perceived to be real, the feelings are real and they MOVE you.

In “Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most” the authors highlight there are really 3 levels of conversations to be had arising out of a challenge or conflict between us humans.

The first level is “what happened?” Per Anais Nin, we don’t see things the way they are, we see things the way WE are. You say you are going to do something for me but it slips your mind. To you it’s a little deal, to me it’s a big deal but you could be oblivious unless I tell you or you start noticing there is a strange distance between us.

Underneath the “what happened” is the feelings. Feelings can be very confusing. Yesterday, when writing about how easy or hard it is for us to receive a challenge from another and why, some of us realized we have feelings that burble up but we have no idea where they came from or why. Getting clarity on WHAT you are feeling and REPORTING them will help you get to the root of them. “I feel frustrated” is reporting a level one feeling. “I feel frustrated because I feel guilty” is reporting a level two feeling. “I feel frustrated because I feel guilty because I feel so needy in having these high expectations for my friends” is reporting a level three feeling. Feelings can be complicated!

And at the root of feelings is the “identity” conversation. Boy, this one can catch us sideways — but if the incident triggers some subliminal deep-rooted fear or shame about “who I am”, THAT is the real demon to be worked through. Which involves slowing down to do the REAL, HARD, WORK of building a strong core. A strong core will act as the FILTER for challenging the CONCLUSIONS of your feelings based on what you BELIEVE about the “what happened” — which will then lead to better DECISIONS and choices in relationships.

Together we Improve.

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