A woman went on a great date with a man she’s been seeing for the past two months. After dinner, they went back to his apartment to watch a movie. She felt really cozy sitting next to her man on the couch, when all of the sudden, he looked at her and said: “I need some space.”
She freaked out! Her mind began to race as she thought about all of the things she could have done wrong during their date. “I knew this was gonna happen!” she thought to herself. She assumed the relationship was over, and was ready to just get up and leave, but decided to ask her man why he wanted to break up when things seemed to be going so well. He scratched his head, wrinkled his brow and told her: “I just need more room on the couch. Could you scoot over?”
Did you see that coming? Or did you jump to the conclusion that this relationship was over?
How to Manage Your Feelings
Your answer to this question reveals whether or not your ability to master your heart and manage your feelings is directly affecting your relationships. According to John Gray, author of Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus, we usually make 1 of 3 choices when we are hurt, disappointed or angered:
We can get so good at reacting to, rejecting, or repressing our feelings that these responses can happen instantly without us even realizing it. The results can be catastrophic!
Let’s test and see if any of these relationship scenarios ring true for you:
You’re on a date with a man that you find attractive and who is exactly the type of man you’ve dreamt of your entire life. You start thinking: “He probably won’t even want to talk to me. Why would he be interested in me.” You don’t realize you have these thoughts, though. All you know is you feel awkward. So you overcompensate by pretending to be someone you’re not. Instead of being playful, fun, and open, you get stuck in your head. You wonder if the last thing you said was stupid. You can’t get a word out, and the date goes downhill!
You feel rejected when a man disappears after a date or stops calling you. You take it personally and then say to yourself or your friends: “All men lie! None of them are serious about relationships.” You take down your online dating profile and decide you’re just going to stay single for the rest of your life.
Maybe you’re already in a relationship, and your partner says something that hurts your feelings. You haven’t been taught to communicate openly and truthfully. So you don’t say: “Babe, that really hurt me. I’m angry with you! Please don’t say that again.” Instead, you cut your eyes, suck your teeth, and tell him off about something he did last week. Before you know it, you’re arguing and you don’t know why.
Or, you say nothing for weeks. But because feelings buried alive never die, your frustration comes up in other ways. You’re cold and reject his affection. Or you snap at your kids, friends or co-workers and they label you as hard to get along with.
Your inability to manage your feelings are messing up your ability to enjoy relationships.
Perhaps you’ve gotten so good at the Strong Black Woman Syndrome that you’ve learned to just shut down. You feel nothing. No pain. No anger. Nothing. The problem with going numb is that you can’t feel good emotions like love or joy either! So you just exist. Or, you turn to unhealthy things like overeating, meaningless sex, overspending, or overworking so that you can feel something, even if it these behaviors are ultimately self-destructive.
Learn how to control your feelings before they control you.
No matter your pattern, your inability to manage your feelings are messing up your ability to enjoy relationships. Here are 4 tips to help you protect your heart and still remain open to love.
1. Don’t take it personally
Your partner is going to say stupid stuff. People aren’t going to call you back or ask you out again. Breakups happen. But, the key is to not make up stories about yourself, your worth, or your ability to love.
Tip: Feel the pain, figure out what your emotions are telling you, and then let it go!
2. Watch what you tell yourself when you’re disappointed in love
What do you say when someone disappoints you in relationships?
Watch the story that you create about what happens to you, because this story can become an unconscious script that plays in the background of every future relationship you have. For example, if a man tells you he’ll call and then 2 days go by before he does. You might find yourself snapping him because you have a story that all men lie and can’t be trusted.
Tip: Most stories are rooted in fears and insecurities, so make sure you guard your heart from these destructive thoughts.
3. Know yourself
Study yourself. Know what your triggers and hot buttons are. This way you can respond to relationship problems better, instead of just reacting based on your initial assumptions.
Tip: When you practice self-awareness, you’ll set yourself up for success because you’ll know when you need to take a break from a discussion so that you can carefully choose what you’re going to do and say.
4. Get help
No, help is not a 4-letter word! Most of us have not been taught how to process our feelings.
Tip: I recommend you work with a coach or therapist who can teach you tools on how to heal past hurts and how to communicate in new ways that bring you closer to your partner, instead of pushing everyone away who tries to get close to you.
Your feelings are powerful messengers that reveal what you need, desire, and require in relationships. The key is to learn how to control them before they control you.
BMWK, what is the hardest part of communication for you? Please post below!