by Wendy Strgar November 05, 2010
“There can be no knowledge without emotion. We may be aware of a truth, yet until we have felt its force, it is not ours. To the cognition of the brain must be added the experience of the soul.” –Arnold Bennett
I married into a family whose primary operating principle was “If something is wrong, don’t talk about it.” Even as a young woman in my early twenties, I knew instinctively that silence in the face of difficult emotions is a mistake. In the years of therapy that I undertook during adolescence to deal with my own family’s dysfunction whose version was “If something is wrong -scream about it,” I learned the power of giving language to emotions.
Talking about feelings requires learning the nuances of first identifying them. Many children grow up not knowing the difference between basic emotions like fear, sadness and anger. Anger is the easiest emotion for most people to express, whether inward or outward, and many grow up without the emotional support to experience these other more vulnerable and painful emotions.
Emotional intelligence is perhaps one of the most sorely missed and profoundly necessary skill sets in our culture. As an often frightened and sad teenager, I realized that putting words to feelings and having a framework to understand the range of emotions that occurred inside and around me was a way out of the insanity; or at the very least brought insanity into an easily recognizable light.
This week I had an experience with a co-worker that brought back many memories of the power of the dangling conversation that hung perpetually around any attempts to relate to my in-laws. To the degree that nothing was ever resolved in their family, all the issues and hurt feelings that ever happened between them and now me, was up for grabs. Everyone had to walk on egg shells because almost any comment could set off a chain reaction that led back to that huge sack of unfinished conversations.
If I did anything right in my own family, it was making sure that every difficult emotional meeting found some kind of conclusion. If not an apology or an emotional coming together, at the very least I always demanded closure that included true listening and attempts at empathy. This practice allows the past to be over when people leave the room, even if both people walk away with less than they want.
The alternative makes relationships unsafe, only increasingly so over time. Dangling conversations that leave hurt feelings fester; even if the people practicing them can come back looking like nothing happened the next day. Emotions are real things that live in our bodies with more power and force than our thoughts. Respected, they are the most powerful form of bonding that a relationship can hope for. Silent, ignored or left hanging, they are the most prevalent form of cancer that eats away at the health and longevity of loving.
by Wendy Strgar May 22, 2018
There is no time like long summer nights to cultivate our uniquely, profoundly human capacity for pleasure, especially sexual pleasure. Our pleasure response transforms our relationship to each other and even to life itself. Focusing on pleasure not only changes how we see our opportunities for intimate connection, but also invites us into a deeper relationship with our erotic soul.
by Wendy Strgar May 17, 2018
It becomes hard to trust your own thinking when nothing seems to be working. The space between how I thought it would go and how it is going seems to widen in front of my eyes. Maybe most difficult of all is how often the undesirable outcomes around us spill over into our relationships, both at home and at work. An errant comment too easily turns into an argument. I become blind to my impact on people around me, caught up in the unresolved problems surrounding me. During times like these, we often underestimate the power of the choices we make and how it can create a path back towards what’s working or down the slippery slope of self-destruction, which my husband affectionately calls “flirting with the gutter.”
Here is my short list to making it better when it isn’t working at all. Each one helps you do the next one, so start at the beginning and work your way down.
by Wendy Strgar May 03, 2018