The Heart of the Feelings

During conflict resolution trainings and peace building classes, I talk about feelings. What do feelings have to do with peace and conflict?   

If you feel happy and content, what vibe do you give off to the people around you? Likewise, if you feel angry, hurt, or frustrated, what sort of energy do you share? 

It seems easier to just act out of feelings rather than acknowledge the feeling, sit with it, and find out what the feeling means.  

Feelings provide important signals about needs. When each member of a couple feels fulfilled, thankful, and openhearted, it may mean the needs for affection, trust, and support are being met. Feelings of anger, hurt, or frustration, may reflect unmet needs for connection, understanding, or appreciation.  

During a family mediation, when I hear a spouse say, “you’re never home,” I hear “I miss you, I need support, connection…” However, the other spouse usually hears, “nothing I ever do is good enough.”   

The “never home” interpreted as “not good enough” may not meet the need for appreciation, thereby beginning this looping circle of unmet needs. This may lead to one person shutting down and avoiding the conversation or being more confrontational or aggressive.  What if there was a way to be clear about needs while showing compassion for a spouse or partner? 

Being clear about any need, including a need for connection, may feel uncomfortable or awkward to share. Would you rather build further disconnection, or create a deeper connection, along with affection, trust, or support?  

Communicating for Couples classes teach non-violent communication (NVC) tools for sharing honestly with clarity and compassion.  

A civil and family mediator, peace builder, and educator, Sherry Ann Bruckner lives in Alexandria, Minnesota. Visit brucknermediation.com/services to learn more or call Sherry at (320) 808-3212 for help to transform conflict and create peace.

As always, be gentle with you. Be gentle with all. Be the peace.