Don’t Let Emotions Get the Best of You

Ever had a day when you felt a bit out of sorts? Not a grumpy or bad attitude, but a day when you knew your perspective was in danger of sliding south and that you just weren’t looking at things the right way?  I hate it when my perspective goes out of balance.  I could turn into a fire breathing dragon without much provocation. 

What happens is that I take the stress and strain from one situation and connect it to another.  The two may not be related, but because I am feeling off balance and emotional they get tossed together anyway.  This sort of thing can be hell on a relationship.

 The interesting thing is I can tell when other people are doing this, but didn’t readily identify it when I was the one doing it.  When a single parent friend of mine was feeling stressed about her house payments, getting the kids ready for school, making dinner on time, having enough to go around at dinner, and constantly having to run errands by herself, she started complaining to her boyfriend.  Now, none of those things were actually his fault, they were all things in her own circumstances under her control, but because she was feeling out of sorts and somewhat emotional, he got to hear about it which made him feel guilty, or bad, or mad, like he was inadequate, or out of sorts wondering what he’d done wrong.

 It works both ways, I’ve seen guys do the same thing by bringing their work home and not being geared towards family time, they get stuck in “get it done” at work mode and want to just collapse for a few minutes or unwind a bit before being hit with: “take out the trash, set the table, change the baby, walk the dog, or can you cook tonight?” 

 So what is the answer?  How do we stop the cycle of emotional response that can lead to disagreements and hurt feelings?

 Stop, recognize how you feel, what you’re feeling, and why.  Before you address your partner, friend, child, ask yourself some questions:

  • What am I feeling? Anger, resentment, hurt, frustration?
  • Why am I feeling these emotions?  Instead of playing the – all too easy trap of laying blame or pointing fingers at someone else – Ask yourself, what am I doing or not doing right now that makes me feel that way?
  • Are the obstacles you are seeing real?  Sometimes we put obstacles in our own path and they become excuses to make things easier to explain or not do. 

Obstacles such as:          

  • It’s too hard
  • No one will help me
  • I’m too young/old
  • I don’t have the money
  • It will cause drama
  • I don’t have the energy

 Stopping yourself to find out the true cause of your frustration before addressing someone else can make all the difference in your relationship and day for both of you.  No one likes to be unloaded on for things they really have no control over and may not even be responsible for.

 All relationships are dependent on communication.  If you don’t state it, then don’t expect it, because no one is a mind-reader.  If you live together and you find yourself overwhelmed, then discuss and divide duties to meet each other half way, help each other out.  That way no one feels like demands are being made later. 

Above all make time to put everything else aside, including other people, cell phones, televisions, radios, and all other distractions and just listen to each other.  If someone is really and truly important to you then make the time to listen to them, and allow them to know you better by sharing with them as well.

 Cherry Coley ©

 

 

Telling Tales and Sharing Stories

Sometimes we just try too hard.  Have you ever found yourself over explaining something because you wanted the other person to understand what you were saying so bad and you wanted to make a good impression?  They sit there with a nod and a smile pasted on and you just find yourself explaining when you should probably be quiet instead. 

What’s worse are the times when you find yourself or watch someone else try too hard.  They go above and beyond explanations on to hand motions or sketches to keep on explaining something beyond the facts that are definitely known.

I have a friend that loves to embellish stories.  I suppose since we are in Texas they could someday wind up as Texas tall tales.  Sometimes they just embellish a little bit and everyone just kind of overlooks it and goes on.  Other times, the embellishment gets rather wild and things that happened to someone else suddenly become personal experiences that were much bigger and more harrowing each time the tale is told, depending on whom the tale is being told too, and who they are trying to impress.

We have a few story tellers in my family.  My aunt was one and she was a fast talker too!  My aunt and uncle came to visit us from California one year and she decided she would share with us all her stories about the same time my dad piped up and decided he would share all his with her.  Together in the same room they both chattered and no one else could get a word in upside down, sideways or otherwise.  Honestly, at night we could hear the walls still ringing with the sound of those two trying to out talk each other.

My aunt was hard to follow with her stories because she didn’t really pause between them and if you weren’t really sticking to every word she said then you could get lost and never find your way back to the conversation.  She would switch subjects and keep right on going despite all the blank looks in the room. 

It was great to see them and that they got to come visit, but I often look back on that and wonder how much more enjoyable it would have been if they had been a little more considerate of each other and the other people in the room.  How much more could we have learned from each other if everyone had taken turns sharing, stopped and listened to each story or experience, then allowed someone else to have a say.  It’s we will never know now, but it is an experience to remember.  Now when we have someone come visit we will, find ways to not allow one person or a few to dominate all the conversations all the time.  If nothing else we will make a game of it so that there is equal sharing time.

Time is fleeting and too important to waste.  Time invested with loved ones should be shared and enjoyed and one thing that makes that possible is taking the time to establish and practice good communication so that each person feels heard, valued and equally important and included in the group.

Cherry Coley ©

You are Important!

Don’t you hate it when you are in the middle of a conversation and suddenly you get lost?  The person talking is emotional and the subject is important, but somehow some where they changed subjects or switched things a little in the middle of their talk and you are struggling to get back on track and figure out what they are talking about. 

Don’t panic, it happens sometimes to the best of us, especially if it’s someone with a different personality than yours.   What to do?  Don’t just let them go on with their story and stay lost hoping they will say something that brings you back into the conversation, gently stop and ask for clarification.

It’s important in good communication that you follow what the other person is saying are understand what they need you to understand.  I have been one that would allow the conversation to go on thinking I understood, then come to find out later that I really didn’t.

After looking at the different relationships in my life, I realize that in order to cultivate them and have more fulfilling friendships and deeper relationships with my family and the people I love that it’s more important for me to ask questions than to just assume anything at all. 

I wonder now at some of the relationships in my past.  Would things have turned out differently if we had communicated better?  I don’t know.  Perhaps, in some cases, we would have realized we didn’t have much in common earlier. 

The important thing to remember is that communication is vital to all relationships.  Take the time to share, watch facial expressions, make eye contact and really listen to what’s being said.  Show the people in your life that you appreciate, respect them and that they are important to you.

Cherry Coley ©

Are You Listening To Me?

There is nothing more important in any relationship than feeling like the other person listens to you.

I am sad to say that there have been moments in my life when I haven’t listened as well as I should have.  I have on occasion found myself hurrying someone along so that they would get to the point and I could go on my way many times in the past, especially with the storytelling personality of some people.

My dad could tell wonderful stories.  When I was a child I used to love to sit and listen to him for hours.  My youngest daughter has inherited this gift as well.  Oh, I know you’re thinking I am a story-teller as well.  You are right; I used to sit in groups of kids at different schools telling all sorts of stories each day.  Somehow my storytelling has found its way to the written form more these days. 

My youngest daughter has an imagination beyond compare, the tales she can weave span entire generations and involve so many characters that about half way through you’re wondering how you got from point “A” to point “P”.  She is truly amazing!  Sometimes, when life is hectic, we tend to try to hurry her along so she will find the point, make it, and we can change the subject.  She is hard to get to hurry or change “channels” and often will stick to the rambling until she’s done, you’re frustrated, she’s mad, and the point got thrown out the window. 

 Yet, that is not active listening.  Active listening would involve listening to the story, asking questions if needed, but not to interrupt, putting your own feelings and emotions aside, and allowing yourself to be in the moment and enjoying the conversation.  That also includes turning off the radio, putting down the cell phones and focusing on the person speaking.  The effect is amazing.  The attitude of the speaker improves because they are being heard.  The person listening is learning about the speaker by listening, eye contact and watching expressions, both people gain by the encounter and the relationship is strengthened. 

 Listening and communication have always been the most important things in relationships, but especially now in this high pressured, busy, sometimes almost frantic pace we all keep to make sure everything is done each day, it seems more important than ever to find that person that is a true friend, an oasis in the midst of chaos, that we can turn too and have them just….listen. 

 Cherry Coley ©