Saturday, October 29, 2011
Feeling what the other person feels?
We’ve all heard those old sayings, “Actions speak louder than words” and “Reading someone else’s body language.” But what do they really mean? How can we see those ideas as real satisfaction indicators within relationships?
All humans are social creatures at their core – even if those hermit-like people among us don’t realize it. As social creatures, we are hardwired to show our emotional states to others in every facial expression, tone of voice, gestures, and how fast or slow those are shared. The language of our bodies and expressions can change the way we feel about or react to another person.
Within relationships, it often happens that two people who know each other very well come to naturally recognize and understand each other’s body language. However, even then, we’re not always aware of the signals we ourselves are giving off to others. It’s important that even the happiest couples learn to reflect on both their signals and their partner’s, in order to reach better understanding and needs fulfillment.
Some experts have explored an idea they call “feeling felt.” This is when you have the sense that your partner feels your feelings (attunement) and is able to respond in the appropriate way. “Feeling felt” is something that we all instinctively need, emotionally. And we need it at every stage of life.
Relationships where each person has this need satisfied are usually relationships where positive emotions run high and negative emotions are rare.
If you’ve been following along with us for a while, you’ve probably read this and already guessed that “feeling felt” is pretty much dependent on having a secure attachment to one another, right? It’s true that someone with a passive aggressive or avoidant partner isn’t going to “feel felt” very often.
What is interesting about feeling your partner’s feelings is that it’s often non-verbal. In classic empathy between those who don’t know each other well, you can understand where people are coming from or feel sad when they do, but they have to verbally say, “I’m feeling this” first. When a couple is properly attuned with each other, strong positive (or strong negative) emotions can be sensed in a way that isn’t expressed in words. Rather, it’s expressed in body language, expressions, gestures, and tone of voice.
Want to get to know your partner well enough that you can both know what it’s like to “feel felt”? Perhaps you want this, but you’re not sure your partner understands the importance of it? We can help! Please visit us at Conflict Coach to learn more about what you can do to find attunement and secure attachment in your relationships. Our coaches are standing by!
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