In every relationship there are times when there is a hassle. Whether it is a friendly, professional or romantic relationship. Relationships come with annoyances. What you initially appreciate in someone can suddenly turn into frustration. And the longer you wait to express your emotions, the more it can damage the relationship.
Think of a colleague who does not take responsibility, so that you have to fix her work. A friend who cancels for the umpteenth time, so that you doubt what the friendship means to him. Or your partner who always seems to know better, which makes you keep your mouth shut from now on.
Common situations that can evoke feelings of disappointment, frustration or even anger.
What is your strategy: ignore or speak up?
The first time you get annoyed by the other person's behavior, the impact is usually not that big. But every time it happens again, the frustration increases.
At such a moment you have two options:
1. You express your feelings in that moment; or
2. You don’t speak up and store these feelings.
Reasons not to speak up
Whether or not you express your feelings depends on the situation and what interests are involved. What is being touched in you and is this worth possibly entering into a conflict. Because that's what we unconsciously often fear. That if you speak up, there will be disagreement right away.
Your choice is also influenced by how you learned this in your family of origin. From an early age you learn which emotions are and which are not allowed. What emotions were shown and encouraged? And what emotions were judged or criticized?
For example, many boys grow up with the message that crying or showing your vulnerability is a sign of weakness. As a result, you put your true feelings aside and show different behavior. You might get angry, make a sarcastic remark, laugh it off, or get very rational. But the real feeling is suppressed at that moment.
The effect of suppressing your feelings
If you avoid a conflict with the other person, sooner or later an inner conflict will arise. By denying and suppressing your feelings and emotions, you store them in your body. Compare it with a savings card. For example, someone can save 'anger stamps' instead of expressing their anger. Or every time you feel unheard, you store this experience internally and become a little more indifferent. Apparently your opinion doesn't matter.
Saving feelings usually goes well for a long time...
Until the moment your savings card is full and the bomb bursts. Chances are you're handing in your stamps to the wrong person or in the wrong situation. The person who is subjected to this will experience that the emotional outburst is disproportionate to the actual incident.
Imagine your boss often criticizes you. Even though it irritates you, you don't show it. You're holding back until you get home. Then you yell at your partner or your dog for getting in your way.
The pros and cons of saving stamps
Your authentic feelings are thus replaced by other feelings that arise from an old pattern. The 'advantage' of saving stamps is that you avoid conflicts. At the same time, suppressing your feelings can also lead to physical complaints, such as tension and stress. And in the long run, it usually damages the relationship anyway. From the old pattern you are not able to solve the problem in a mature way, so it remains.
How full is your savings card?
If you have a fairly full savings card, then you would do well to exchange them regularly from now on. These five steps will help you with this.
1. Explore what matters to youSometimes it helps to step out of the situation to feel what really mattered to you.
2. Set your intentionWhat would you like to achieve by speaking up? Do you want to set your boundaries, understand each other better or learn how to deal with a situation differently from now on?
3. Pick your momentThe longer you wait, the more loaded an emotion often feels. So don't wait too long to speak up. Indicate that you want to give something back and ask if the other person is open to this. If the answer is no, then it makes no sense at all.
4. Be specificName the specific situation and tell what the effect of the other person's behavior was on you. Check if the other person understands you.
5. Be clear on expectationsBe specific about what you would like the other person to do differently next time. And ask for commitment
By listening to your feelings and expressing them to the other person, you take your own needs seriously. The other person knows what you really think or expect, which makes you more reliable. And you create an opportunity for both of you to grow in the relationship.
Men's group: meet up, share & grow
Do you find it difficult to express yourself? Do you want to feel more secure in contact with others? I regularly organize men's groups in which you learn how other gay men deal with this. Read more >