I was in session this week with a wonderful client and when he sat down and we discussed our focus for the day he told me he wanted to stop being so weak. When I clarified what exactly he felt was weak about him he talked about his emotions and his anxiety. I think if there was one theme I hear most often with my clients it is that they believe that having their emotions – whether this be sadness, grief, love, hurt, anger etc – is a sign of weakness.
Let’s look at an example that pertains to your relationship. If you and your partner had a fight and your feelings were hurt. It feels a lot safer to simply express the anger or to brush it under the carpet than it does to go up to your partner and say “When you did X my feelings were really hurt because of Y. I need Z from you so that I can know that we are okay.” Our engrained patterns with regards to dealing with our emotions in our relationships often get in the way of us feeling safe and being really vulnerable. These patterns are heavily layered with each person’s defense mechanisms and the whole purpose of defense mechanisms is to protect a person from feeling their feelings and being vulnerable. If we really let ourselves feel and let our partner see those feelings we risk being hurt again. Never showing them, however, prevents our relationship from strengthening and our connection from deepening.
It takes a lot of courage to feel your feelings and even more courage to let someone else witness them. If you are someone who believes that having feelings is weak, ask yourself what is harder: being unaffected or really feeling your feelings. If you answer the latter then take the time to work on telling yourself that having your feelings takes strength and sharing these feelings takes courage.