“That which we are capable of feeling, we are capable of saying.”
A father calls me… he’s sad… he made a mistake… again.
Once again he didn’t say what he needed to say to the person he needed to say it to and, once again, those feelings got pushed deep inside. Adding ‘more’ to the existing heavy load, he quickly reached the point of boiling-over and during a non-so-smooth event with his son, he lashed in pent-up anger. His response to the event was disproportionate to the crime…you know how that happens. The punishment doesn’t fit the crime because the punishment was only in part ABOUT the crime.
Are there any lessons and opportunities to be had from this experience? You bet there are; here are a few…
1. Making amends with the son.
Have a conversation that may sound something like this: (1) “I’m sorry (2) that I yelled at you and responded that way. (3) I was wrong to do that. (4) I was angry about something else that I didn’t take care of and that added to the frustration I was feeling about what you did and so I lashed out in I way I shouldn’t have and I know that hurt you. (5) Will you forgive me?”
Components of this conversation:
- State the sentiment
- State the act you are referring to
- Admit culpability
- Offer some explanation about what happened
- Ask for forgiveness
Lessons presented to the child:
- Teaches him the value of saying ‘I’m sorry”
- Helps him understand exactly what you’re sorry for and helps to validate his feelings
- Shows him the importance of owning our actions by admitting when we’re wrong
- Helps him to see that when we don’t take care of things as they happen, they get stored and later amplify. They become bigger and surface down the road.
- Demonstrates the vulnerability required to ask for forgiveness and the importance of doing so.
2. Resolve the original issue that created the ‘extra’ emotional charge.
Follow the formula for cleaning/resolving the conflict. Remember, when we honestly confront a situation, it is not for the purpose of getting the other person to GIVE (say or do) us something but rather for us to own and express (process) our own feelings and emotions in order to resolve them. This is a form of self-care.
- Let the other person know you want to talk. Create the time to do so.
- State the situation/event “when x happened and you…”
- State the feelings it elicited in you “I felt like/that ….”
- Name the resulting emotion “and it made me really ‘angry/mad/sad/..’
- In a healthy relationship it would be appropriate to ask for what you need now (i.e. an apology, for them to see where your point of view, whatever you need) in order to resolve this situation. If your relationship is not at the point where the other person will respond appropriately, just having the conversation is a good and healthy start.
Outcomes for the participants:
- Helps the father process his emotion by talking about it.
- The Father practices good self-care by sharing how he feels rather than allowing that feeling and emotional charge to remain inside him where it will build momentum and express itself in another way in the future.
- Establishes healthier boundaries between the two persons by the father’s demonstration of the cause and effect of a certain behavior he experienced.
- Places responsibility of the initial actions back on the proper owner and allows them the opportunity to either accept it or deflect it depending on the level of emotional intelligence that is involved.
Honest communication is the key to not only deepening the relationship with yourself but also clarifying and deepening your relationship with others. And after all, isn’t that what we really want?
To your relationships!
P.S. Life is really all about relationships which are the #1 challenge most of us encounter. I’d love to chat with you about how much more fulfilling your relationships could be and what an impact that would have on your SHORT life. Go to my home page and schedule a short, complimentary chat with me to see what’s possible for you…you may just discover that life can in fact be much sweeter!
P.S.S. Please leave me a comment below; I’d love to hear your thoughts (any thought). A comment from you would really help to let me know that what I’m writing about is of value to someone :-). On this side of the fence, it’s hard to know if any of it makes a difference unless I hear back from you. So let me know and help me reach others by sharing this blog post with your friends and family! Thanks 🙂