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Sharing Your Feelings: Controlling or Loving?

By Dr. Margaret Paul
May 06, 2024



Discover the difference - sharing feelings as a form of control, or as a way to take responsibility for yourself and create emotional intimacy.



compassionOne of my clients asked me, "When it comes to sharing feelings, what is the difference between using my feelings as a form of control and taking responsibility for my own feelings?"

The following are examples showing these differences:

"The other night you said some things in our argument that hurt my feelings, and I'm still feeling upset about it."

This woman is letting her partner know that she is upset by what he said, and she is making him responsible for her hurt and upset, rather than opening to learning with him.

If she were taking responsibility for her own feelings, she would first do an Inner Bonding process to learn about what she told herself that fueled her hurt. Then she might have the following dialogue with her partner:

"The other night you said some things in our argument, and I ended up feeling really hurt. I did some dialoguing about it and realized that I had let myself take your attack personally. But there must be some good reasons you said those things, and I’d like to understand it. I'm also wondering if we can set some ground rules regarding what we say to each other in our fights. Are you available to talk with me about this?"

In this case she is not making her partner responsible for her feelings. Instead, she is requesting a learning discussion. If her partner is not available to discuss this, then she would need to accept this and learn to disengage from conflicts that are personal attacks. 
 

Another example...

"I just want to let you know that I'm really angry at you for changing our plans at the last minute."

This man is making his friend responsible for his anger. He is telling her that she caused his angry feelings. He is hoping that by letting her know that he is angry with her, she will change her behavior and not do that again.

If he were taking responsibility for his anger, he would first do an Inner Bonding process to explore why his inner child is angry at him - how he did not take care of himself in this situation. He might discover that he often puts himself in this position with this friend, knowing that she is not reliable. If he were focused on taking loving care of himself rather than controlling her, he could decide to either accept that this is likely to keep happening, or only make spontaneous plans with her. If he doesn't want to accept it, he might then have the following discussion with his friend the next time she tries to make plans with him:

"It seems that changing plans at the last minute is something that you often do. I don't like it, so I'm going to stop making plans ahead of time with you. I really enjoy being with you and I am willing to make spontaneous plans at the last minute, but not future plans. If you still want to get together next Friday evening, give me a call late on Friday and if I don't have other plans, then I'd love to get together."

Instead of trying to change her and make her responsible for his feelings, he is taking care of his own feelings and letting her know what he will and will not do.
 

The sharing of feelings can lead to emotional intimacy...

"I felt hurt and angry the other night by a statement you made, and I did an Inner Bonding process around it. I learned so much from it about myself and about why I get hurt by that kind of statement. I learned about how I often take your comments personally and then judge myself as bad or wrong. I think I've been doing this most of my life, and it's such a relief to discover this! I'm really grateful for this new learning."

She is letting her partner in on her learning, rather than blaming him or her for her feelings. This kind of sharing of feelings can lead to deeper conversations that create emotional intimacy.

Your intent determines whether the sharing of feelings leads to intimacy or to conflict.

Heal your relationship with Dr. Margaret’s 30-Day online video relationship course: Wildly, Deeply, Joyously in Love.



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