“How Should I Feel About [X] Problem in My Relationship?”

Couple

It’s human nature for us to want to gain some perspective of our relationship from the outside in. Almost everyone I have ever met who has had some kind of relationship will ask this question to their friends, family, or a therapist.

The funny thing I find about this question is that we are all so focused on how we should feel rather than how we actually feel. Is there a universally acceptable way to feel about anything?

I feel funny.
I feel funny.

Why must we feel the need to have our feelings be accepted and validated by others? If I’m already upset over something, I really don’t want to have to worry about whether someone else thinks I’m an idiot for being upset or not. I want to be able to just feel it.

I think what we should be really asking is, “How Should I REACT to [X] Problem?” I think there is a great confusion between how one feels and how one reacts. Somehow most of us think of these two very different things as one and the same–yet they’re not. Your feelings are your own to have and whether they affect the people around you is completely up to you. Your reactions, however, affect the people around you as soon as you react. The big difference here is that one is internal and the other is external.

And this is why so often we receive the advice:

“Think Before You Act”.

We so often forget that it is even possible to separate our emotions from our actions. And it is when we’re reminded that some of our actions can misinterpreted that we receive the urge to seek validation from others that our feelings are valid. It’s important to remember that all feelings are valid by default. We cannot place a logical false or true status on something as ethereal as emotion. Our actions or reactions are the physical manifestations of the feeling or emotion we are experiencing. It is our plan of action that really need to be evaluated.

Next time you find yourself wondering whether your feelings are “wrong”–forget about all that and instead focus on how you want to react–and whether your reaction is socially acceptable or appropriate.

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