Every week I work with couples to find deeper connection and understanding. Really well-intentioned, caring, kind, sweet people who somehow just don’t understand each other the way they once did, or who just don’t feel heard when they finish conversations ask me how to better connect and really see each other again.
If this sounds familiar, don’t lose heart, you can make some small changes in your communication that will really help you reconnect.
One of the easiest ways it to increase your emotional vocabulary. So many of us are raised without language for the way we feel. I am including a list below to help you expand the language available to you. Read through the list and try to notice these nuanced emotions throughout your day. Or spend time reflecting on times you have felt each of them alone or in combination.
If you feel overwhelmed by the list just start with the big four: MAD, SAD, HAPPY, AFRAID. Notice what each feels like and when and where they are present in your life. You can expand to others over time and with practice.
Many of us use vague descriptors to tell people whats going on with us. These vague descriptors are a decent start, but by increasing your emotional vocabulary you will be better understood by yourself and those around you.
I’ve listed a few common vague responses below. Notice how often you give these answers when people ask how you are. Challenge yourself to use one or more of the feelings from the feelings inventory list instead.
- “Okay” – Using one of the words from the feelings inventory will give clarity to you and those around you.
- “fine” – All too often we say fine to cover negative emotions. Check in with yourself, are you being honest about how you are feeling?
- “Good” – Awesome! I am glad you are feeling good, now how could you be more descriptive with one of the words on the list to increase connection with those around you?
- “Bad” – Good start, now try again, what are you feeling?
- “I don’t know” instead of this take a deep breath and check if this is true- do you actually not know, or are you feeling confused or uncertain (or something else)?
- “Weird” – Again this is a great starting place, now, what does weird actually mean? Say more, use the list.
- “Stupid” – Sounds like your self-critic has some judgement about how you’re feeling. Try to go a little easier on yourself and say more clearly how you are feeling.
There are lots of ways to get there, and it will take practice to find the right phrasing for you and the people around you. Stick with it to find connection. If you need help along the way give me a call.