Feelings & Boundaries.
Your feelings are valid.
The purpose of feelings is that they’re a sensory feedback system designed to guide us toward self-actualization. They let us know when our thoughts, words, or actions are veering us from the path toward self-actualization.
When you find yourself needing to express how someone is making you feel, pay attention to your internal responses. How does it feel to be honest about this? Are you uncomfortable speaking up for yourself? Do you worry that you’re hurting the other person? Are there certain things you feel you cannot say? Also, pay attention to the way the person responds to you. There is much to learn about yourself and others while going through this process.
If after expressing your feelings, you’re met with openness and understanding, that is fantastic! And even better when you see the history of respect that comes with that over time.
If, however, you are met with resistance, notice how the other person reacts to your feelings; consider the words they are saying. Notice how that makes you feel. Generally, resistance is because they are uncomfortable, threatened, or maybe even hurt. It’s still possible for them to catch themselves and turn that around. You can remind them that you’re just expressing your feelings—and asking for respect whether they understand or agree with everything.
If they still press, it may be tempting to justify yourself or even to back down. But remind yourself that feelings aren’t about being right or wrong. If you’re made to feel that you’re being sensitive, emotional, overreacting, or even worse—that you are wrong—push pause right there. This is usually a dead-end situation and you may want to consider politely walking away.
Don’t let anyone invalidate your feelings. You deserve to feel how you feel.
If you’re at this level of resistance, it’s usually a good indicator that you need to create a healthy boundary. When a person gets upset at you for your feelings, at its very base, that means they are not respecting you. They want to take control of this aspect of you. Please don’t get upset—also, don’t allow yourself to be treated that way. When you consider that someone’s resistance is usually coming from a place of fear, it can help you to be more compassionate—even if the relationship is undergoing a change which you may not be able to reverse. However, that’s not to say you should change your position. This is simply where you ask for the respect you deserve and allow their response to be their own business.
I don’t think people necessarily do this on purpose. I believe it’s a learned behavior due to years of conditioning which is put upon us all—we dislike being uncomfortable—so we naturally will seek ease or control. It doesn’t mean we’re bad. Just notice and choose to change. If people cannot choose to grow and change with you, perhaps they are choosing to discontinue journeying with you. That is okay. It’s not your job to pull another along with you.
On the subject of setting boundaries, when expressing yourself, you may notice a twinge of guilt or feel a sense of responsibility for how the other person feels when they hear your feelings. I struggle with this one a lot but am learning to work through it. I think it’s an interesting side-effect of being an empath. But as a wise friend recently pointed out to me, it’s important to consider that your only job is to express yourself and let the other person be responsible for their reaction to you. You do not have to make it okay for them. You do not need to figure it out for them. Say your truth and let them respond. I’ve personally noticed that the bigger or more negative a person’s reaction to me when I create a boundary, the more validation I receive that a boundary should have been exhibited it a while ago. No one should ever be angry at you for asking for what you need, or when you request to be respected in a specific way.
I see that sometimes I take too long to express my feelings—not out of fear or guilt as much as wanting to believe that this behavior of disrespect is an unintentional blip. That it won’t stay the same way. People go through phases, experience highs and lows. I like to give people the benefit of the doubt, trust that it’s just “right now”, that it won’t always be like this. So I’m still working on when I need to create a boundary or express myself. That part is tricky for me.
If you’re anything like me, you seek to express your feelings as gently and lovingly as possible. I am also an empath, so I deeply seek to understand where the other is coming from and then to be understood. But “being understood is irrelevant when the cost of it is hurting you”, as a dear and wise friend said to me recently.
I not a master yet, but creating a mantra that you can lean on if someone is repetitively asking you to disregard your own discomfort so they can have theirs has been profoundly helpful. Be clear. Be respectful. And don’t change your boundary. This is the only way that people learn, grow, and change. Something along the lines of “This is how I feel. This is what I need. You don’t have to understand or agree to respect that.”
And if you’re someone who’s struggling to allow others to feel the way they do without attempting to influence them to your way of thinking, please pay attention to that. Seek to change that. There is no threat to you here. Only a new freedom of relationship dynamic. I know that can be scary, but I gently suggest that that is worth exploring.
Stay open. Stay loving. And don’t forget to include yourself in that task. ❤