Getting to know our emotions deepens are 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. This friend will live much of his life pushing people away with his inability to open up emotionally. I remember I knew someone who whenever you would ask him how he feels he would respond by saying “I think everything is going well” or “I really think this week went well”. This person's desire to be rational kept him from ever feeling because feeling is not a rational concept. The problem with this viewpoint of masculinity is that it drives us away from people because emotions are part of how we connect with the people around us and if we don’t use our emotions to connect we are left on the outside looking in.
How does understand our emotions deepen are relationships?
It is often stated that over 90% percent of what we communicate is non verbale (Read) which means that a least a portion of what we are communicating has nothing to do with the words that we say. Often, when communicating, we interpret out of our own emotions. I think about it from this perspective. You are about to leave from work when you text your wife (or partner) and say “hey, I am leaving the office now. Be home soon.” to which she responds “K”. If you have been having a good day at work you might think ‘she must be busy and I’ll see her in a few minutes’. However, if your work day has been less good or you had a day at work that made you upset then you might think “She must be upset at me for something stupid and I am going to stick it to her when I get home!”. Now trust me this is something that happens to me all the time. (Apologies to my wife) Then before you know it you are walking into your house ready for a fight only to find out that your wife is busy talking to her mom or making dinner but you are ready to rumble and before you know it you have found something to fight about and the argument is on.
This is where knowing your emotions is so important to your relationships. Making the connections to your own emotions and the way it leads to you interrupting what other people are saying and doing allows you to take off your emotional viewpoint and see the situation in the appropriate way. In many ways the better we are able to understand and feel our emotions the better we will be able to handle situations rationally. We are incapable of having rationality without knowing our emotions because we are shutting down one part of who we are and trying to live with only the rational side of us.
The other big thing that helps relationships is that you are then able to understand other people when they talk about emotions. Knowing our emotions allows us to understand others emotions which allows us to connect with them. John Gottman, one of the foremost psychologists on relationships describes it in this way “We move in response to our conversation partner’s face, and our brain also fires as we move those muscles and stirs the passions”. As we know our emotions we are able to lean in more and respond to our partners emotions appropriately.
Stunted emotions leave us lonely
Limiting our emotions limits our ability to communicate which limits our relationships. In order for someone to be able to communicate with others well we must be able to understand what they are feeling and be able to explain that we are feeling. In order for us to have healthy relationships we need to know our emotions intimately.