John Gottman on The Easiest Way to Improve Your Relationships.
Let’s go back to our friend from earlier (from part two) who blew up in anger at his close friends. This friend has lived through his life with a viewpoint of masculinity that says that a man doesn’t feel emotions but rather is a stoic, emotionless, creature whose responsibility is to be strong, and being strong means to be emotionless
Getting to know our emotions seems, often, like a fool's errand. “If I get to know my emotions more than I will feel them more” is the thought pattern. In many ways this is very true. If we get to know our emotions we will feel them more frequently because we will not be avoiding them however if we are more aware of them we will feel them less intensely
Let me set the stage. It is a beautiful spring day and you are standing outside with one of your close friends when he says something to you the hits a nerve and, seemingly, for no reason you blow up at him in anger; yelling at him about what he said, with your friends left standing there completely stunned. Shortly after this interaction your friends asks you “Hey, what happened? Why did you blow up at me?” when you respond by saying “I have no idea, I just blew up”. This pattern repeats again and again over the next few months or years till one day you are left wondering “what do I do to stop this from happening?”.
One day I remember I was working a job with some teenagers who were in the legal system when one of them said to the whole group at the residential “Hey everyone I want you to know that I am upset today so if I am a jerk to you it is not my fault.” This kid went on to treat most of the people in the residential really poorly throughout that day and blamed it on being upset about something else in his life. It struck me as such an interesting idea that this client viewed his emotions as something attacking him.