Has your spouse ever asked you, “How are you feeling, honey?” and all you could muster was “I’m fine…”
Inside you may have thought “Feelings? What are they talking about?”
If you (or your partner) struggle to feel emotions, this video may just save your relationship (and your life).
You’ve probably heard of emotional intelligence, but may not know exactly what it refers to.
Your Emotional intelligence (or EQ for short) refers to your ability to identify, assess and control your emotions.
According to the authors of Emotional Intelligence 2.0, only 36% of people can accurately identify their emotions in the moment, so you’re not alone if identifying your feelings is hard for you to do.
This statistic is pretty shocking if you consider that being able to feel and communicate your feelings is essential for empathy and intimacy.
No wonder that we struggle in romantic relationships if only 1 in 3 of us are in touch with our feelings.
If you and your spouse are not regularly sharing your feelings with each other, you probably feel more like buddies than intimate lovers and I’d bet money that you sex life is suffering for it.
And that’s why your spouse asks you how you’re feeling – because they want to feel close and intimately connected to you.
But in order to be able to clearly communicate what’s going on inside you, you need to actually know what is going on inside you.
For the longest time, I couldn’t feel much in the way of feelings…
Why (and how) I Taught Myself To Cry
When I was 15 years old, I intentionally took myself to sad movies to learn how to cry.
I know… it’s kinda weird.
As an awkward teenager, daydreaming was my way of escaping from my feelings of anxiety.
If a friend’s cat died, they would cry. When our cat died, no water came out of my face.
And this concerned me. Perhaps there was something wrong with me?
So I decided to teach myself how to feel… and succeeded.
My close friends now tease me (and love me) for being that guy who wears his heart on his sleeve.
Although I wasn’t aware of how I did it at the time, I’ve since learned an easier method for getting in touch with your feelings than sitting through hours of sad movies. What follows is a condensed version of the method I used to get in touch with my feelings.
There Are 6 Primary Emotions You Can Feel
According to emotion researchers, we have 6 primary feelings. All other emotions can be categorized under these 6. They are:
Most of us have no problem knowing when we’re feeling Love, Joy or Surprise.
Yet, in my relationship coaching practice it’s common for one or both partners to struggle to feel or express their more “negative” feelings like Anger, Sadness and Fear.
Left unchecked, stuffing these feelings down can lead to emotional intimacy problems which very quickly can lead to sexual intimacy problems.
So, in this article, I’m going to focus on identifying and expressing what are commonly considered ‘negative’ feelings – anger, sadness, and fear.
SIDE NOTE: Our society doesn’t support the expression of anger, fear and sadness. Public displays of anger are frowned upon – especially in women.
Men are commonly encouraged to bury feelings and be tough. As children they learn that “Big boys don’t cry” and later on in life can have trouble expressing their sadness and fear – hence the archetype of the stoic, independent man being. Of course, women can suffer from this too.
Getting in touch with your emotions and developing emotional intelligence will be very beneficial to you and your relationship… very quickly.
Because anger, sadness and fear are such vulnerable feelings, sharing them with your lover can make you both feel close and connected if done right.
Here’s How to Feel Your Emotions and Communicate Your Feelings In A Relationship
Step 1: Notice sensations in your body
Each of your emotions has a unique physiological signature in your body. Click the image below to see where researchers have observed how each emotions shows up in your body.
Click to enlarge
- Anger generally shows up between your chest and head and has an outward focus.
- Fear shows up between your belly and chest.
- Sadness shows up centered in your chest and eyes and has an inward focus.
Of course, your body may be different and part of the fun is learning how emotions show up as sensations in your own body. These sensations often show up as a tightness, numbness, soreness or agitation.
At first, noticing the sensations in your body may be difficult, but with time you’ll learn to distinguish between them. This skill will improve your emotional intelligence and your ability to empathize with other people’s feelings.
Step 2: Name your emotion
Based on the sensation in your body, which of the 3 primary emotions feel closest to what you’re feeling? Anger? Sadness? Fear?
Putting a name to the emotion makes it more real and tangible for you.
Step 3: Share the sensation and emotion with your partner
This will help your partner understand your feelings and give them the opportunity to empathize with you.
So you might say, “I’m feeling a tightness in my chest. It feels most like fear.”
Step 4: Ask for what you need in the moment
This is a vulnerable move that will deepen the connection and intimacy between you and your spouse.
If you’re feeling sadness, perhaps you need a hug. If you’re feeling anger, perhaps you need your partner to listen to you rant for a few minutes. If you’re feeling fear, perhaps you need your partner to reassure you.
So, you might say something like, “What I need most right now is… (a hug) (for you to listen) (to jump up and down)…”
A NOTE ON NEEDS: Having needs and asking your partner to meet them for you like this does not make you needy (in the negative sense of the word). All relationships have relationship-specific needs that only your partner can fulfill. Neediness and co-dependence are poles apart. Needing your spouse is a prerequisite to a healthy emotionally intimate relationship between you and your spouse. It does not mean that you are co-dependent.
The more you practice noticing the sensations in your body, the richer your emotional experience will be and the easier it will become.
The more you practice sharing your feelings with your partner the closer you’ll feel to your spouse.
The more you ask for what you need, the more you’ll get what you need.
If your marriage or relationship is in trouble or feels like the intimacy and passion has gone, start noticing and sharing your feelings with your partner like this.
This practice will stir up the waters of emotional connection between you and add a beautiful new dimension to your relating.
These steps will also work to deepen the connection in your relationships with your kids, co-workers or anyone. Go try it out and let me know how it works for you in the comments below.
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