You may be asking yourself, “How can we avoid all of these traps to be successful partners in relationships?”
The short answer is that you need to start exercising your emotional muscles! Here are a few small steps to help you hit the emotional gym. * cue “Eye of the Tiger” *
You Can Find Success Where Others Have Failed!
Get real about your emotions. The first step towards being more comfortable in your vulnerability is to acknowledge that these feelings exist in the first place. You are a human being who is biologically wired to need love, acceptance, and connection to others. You will feel sad or fearful when these needs are unmet. You may have become skilled at suppressing these feelings when they happen, but they are still there!
Build a practice of noticing and labeling your feelings in the moment. This one can be hard at the onset. Learning to notice feelings that your nervous system quickly shuts down requires intentional effort. It can be helpful to recognize cues that your feelings are shifting, even if you aren’t necessarily feeling it.
Track your thought patterns: how we think is a helpful indicator of our feelings. Are your thoughts particularly negative? Rigid? Optimistic? These can all be signals of emotions underneath.
Get curious about your anger: sometimes anger is an appropriate reaction, and sometimes it is a mask of something more vulnerable. Looking inward at why anger arises can help you distinguish between the two.
Welcome your emotions when they are here: feelings are often uncomfortable, and our instinct can often be to move away from this discomfort when it happens. However, just like pushing through one more set in the weight room, sitting through this discomfort increases your emotional stamina and strength.
Talk to a therapist! Making these changes can be challenging on your own. Finding a therapist to help you connect with your vulnerability in a safe environment can be enormously beneficial.