In the last Blog called the Beach Ball Effect, we discussed how feelings are like a beach ball. When we suppress them, it is like pushing the beach ball under the water. If those feelings are not dealt with, they pop out, usually hitting whoever is nearby when our emotions get vented. There are several reasons we push the Beach Ball of our feelings under the surface.
Contributing factors to the Beach Ball Effect (2nd of 3)
Family of Origin
What we were taught about expressing emotions in our family of origin affects how we handle emotions throughout our lives. Some of the messages we might have heard about emotions while we were growing up could include, “big boys don’t cry”, “real men don’t show their feelings”, “time heals all wounds”, “if you don’t have something positive to say, don’t say it.” All of those statements contribute to making us push the beach ball of our emotions down in the swimming pool of our soul, so we don’t have to deal with them. As a result, we don’t develop a vocabulary for expressing emotions.
Dealing with the Beach Ball Effect (2nd of 3)
Expand Your Emotional Vocabulary.
When I first got married, I realized I had a Dr. Seuss vocabulary for my emotions. “Happy, sad, glad, mad.” If I was feeling something other than those four words, I really couldn’t get in touch with it, let alone express it. My wife on the other hand, had a vast vocabulary of feelings words with which she could express herself.
Sometimes we don’t communicate because we don’t have the right word. We’re feeling something. We know it’s not anger, so we just ignore it and decide not to mention it. But it might be irritation or frustration, which still need to be addressed. The more specifically we can name our emotions, the better we can get them on the surface where we can examine the cause of those emotions and do something about it.
A good exercise is to take a piece of paper and write at the top of it, I feel___________. Make a list of as many words as you possibly can that will fill in that blank. It doesn’t have to be how you feel right that minute, but just any word in the English language that expresses an emotion. If you create a long list, fantastic! If you come up with a pretty short list, then start adding some new words to your vocabulary!