Communicating Our Feelings

Return to Dialogue Helps...

Feelings - the Language of Intimacy

A feeling is a spontaneous inner reaction to a person, place, or situation that I experience or think about. 

Definition

Neither Right nor Wrong...

Feelings are neither right nor wrong. They have no morality attached to them. Morality only enters in when the feeling is acted upon.  So, there is no need to justify why we feel the way we do.
If you can substitute "I am" for "I feel" you have expressed a feeling.

If you can substitute "I think" for "I feel" you have expressed a thought or judgment.

The "I think vs. I feel" rule

Describing Feelings

Selecting "the right word" to name our feeling is not as important as describing our feeling in as many ways as we can.  Remember, the goal is for our spouse to reach empathy with us in our feeling.

Name the feeling and describe what the feeling is like. You may want to use some of the following characteristics:

Characterizing Feelings

Category Ways to Describe Example
Intensity rate feeling from 1 to 10 "My feeling is a 10."
Taste sweet, sour, bitter, etc. "My feeling would taste sour like a lemon."
Touch scratchy, soft, prickly, smooth, etc. "My feeling is as soft as silk."
Color red, blue, gray, etc. "My anger is red hot."
Sound high pitched, screech, wail of a siren, crack of thunder "It sounds like singing birds on a spring morning."
Physical reaction sick, chilled, giggling, etc. "It was like an upset stomach."
Similar experience childbirth, riding a bike, etc. I was excited, like the time our child took her first steps."
Nature scene beautiful sunset, crashing waves, still forest, gentle breeze, etc. "My joyful feeling has all of the colors of a sunset at sea."
An image hitting a home run I feel gleeful, like a kid who hit his first home run."
 
Possible Questions for Verbal Dialogue
These are suggested questions to help you get started on dialogue and to make it richer and more meaningful. You probably will not want to use more than a few of these during any given dialogue.
Can you tell me more about your feeling?
Have there been other times when you felt this way?
Is this feeling like __? (Give an example of what you think the feeling might be like.)
Is it like the time when __? (Give a shared experience when you think you both felt that way.)
Are there any strong physical sensations you experience when you feel this way?
What does this feeling make you want to do?
What color do you think of when you experience this feeling?
On a scale of 1 (barely noticeable) to 10 (overpowering), how strong is your feeling?
If your feeling was sitting on the table, what would it be doing?
What taste best describes your feeling?
Is there a picture, a song, a movie scene, or a nature scene that comes to your mind that would describe your feeling?
 

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