What is the Feeling behind the Words?

what is the feeling behind the words? blog
Living The Big Stuff

What is the Feeling behind the Words?

I learned the art of listening to the feeling behind the words one day as Richard and I sat, ironically, in our large house at our children’s miniature table and chairs. It was a funny sight, this grown couple choosing this space to confront their issues while their kids were at school. We were having a rare “marriage moment.”

It was a pivot turn for me as I learned what it truly meant to feel his heart.

He was frustrated and feeling unappreciated. We were busy and broke. I realized as he was talking about the ways I wasn’t showing up, that I could feel my defensiveness rise. I caught it like a ball in motion! I saw my own wall rise, and before I jumped into the attack with fists flying, I sat back in my little chair and took a BIG breath.

In my breath, I heard a voice say, “Kris, listen to this man you love, listen to his feelings.” In that moment it became more important to honor his heart than the content of what he was saying, even though I didn’t agree and had my own feelings of being unappreciated. It was more important to hold his heart in my hand and love him in this way than to defend my own ego.

The core of authenticity sometimes means stepping out vulnerably and being honest—even if it means offending someone by the honest reflection. Through this authenticity, we hold a steady mirror for each other.

I recently had the experience of waiting for someone to just simply say two words of appreciation: “Thank you.”

Rather than walk away resentful when those two words hung in the air unspoken, I decided that it was important in this relationship to call out and confront what lingered in the air.

(I don’t consider this sweating the small stuff, but rather living awake to the big stuff.)

Yes, there was discomfort in very lovingly and gently saying,

“A simple, thank you for being here and would be appreciated right now.”

As her eyes widened, I could almost hear her say by the look on her face: “What?! Why would I have to say that?”

And, then, rather than truly listening, she began a list of the things she did for me, like a scorecard, to point to why a simple “thank you” was not needed.

Isn’t it ironic that in our closest relationships we are so quick to defend and take offence?

I felt the odd resistance and shock from her, and I knew it was time for a heart to heart conversation—separate from this time. I have to say, though, because I truly care about this connection, it was worth the risk to honor my integrity by speaking up.

One of the most difficult things is to allow ego to step aside and listen to the feeling behind the words of someone close to you.

If you are faced with an unexpected confrontation, especially, when it is coming from the heart of someone you love and trust, here is the inquiry:

  • What is he or she feeling behind what is spoken and how can my ego step aside so that I may honor and hear the heart?
  • Will I honor this partner or friend by honoring how he or she is feeling?
  • Or, will I be “right” and risk the heart of someone I love?

Ego is vicious and will always sabotage your closest connections. The voice of ego will suffocate your ability to have truly heartfelt authentic conversations and connections.

If you are present, you’ll choose to be kind over being right, and you can choose to truly listen to the hearts of your closest companions. You can choose to listen to the feelings over the content or words of what is spoken from the heart.

One of the easiest things you can do is shower those around with you with appreciation and praise, and watch everyone around you perform with more ease and grace.

You can also realize those moments when someone is feeling taken for granted and may not risk saying so.

Being committed to authentic expression comes with some risk—but what lies unspoken leaves resentment lurking in the shadows and often can be the demise of a wonderful relationship. And, your truest relationships, whether it be your spouse, friends, co-workers or children will appreciate knowing that they can count on you to be honest with how you feel so that they have the opportunity to honor your heart and feelings with a pure reflection of love and genuine appreciation.

One of the most beautiful things about age, is that we know when it’s important to allow our authentic expression to emerge heartfelt and loving without apology—as we are calling in those true connections to support us in living our most vibrant lives.

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