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When we feel
uncomfortable, it is a sign something is wrong. The sooner we acknowledge this feeling,
and either take action or communicate the feeling, or both, the sooner we can feel comfortable again. Telling people when
we don't feel comfortable, by the way, is one quick way to find out who respects our feelings.
If they do respect our feelings, and thereby respect us as individuals, then we won't need to tell them a second time. Nor
will we even need to give them an explanation.
Excerpt from my 1996 book
When you feel uncomfortable, you often actually feel it in your body, usually your stomach. Thus the term "gut instincts."
Your body is trying to tell you to watch out, be careful, or to take some action to get out of a situation. When you feel
uncomfortable, use your upper brain to analyze the situation. Determine what is making you
feel uncomfortable. Chances are there are several specific negative feelings. Identifying
them helps you determine what action is necessary.
Sometimes you need to take unilateral action. Sometimes your action must involve others.
Since many people will manipulate you (if you let them) into situations
where you feel uncomfortable, you must express your feelings. Let them know with a simple,
honest, clear, and direct statement. For example, just say, "I don't feel comfortable about
this." This helps you set your boundaries and helps you see who respects them and who does not. Either way, it is better to
know the reality of the situation.
Here are some stories about feeling uncomfortable
Once I asked a woman how her
first date with someone went. She said "I never want to see him again." I asked why not, and she said, "Well, I felt very
uncomfortable when kissed me after only one hour of talking. He didn't see that I was uncomfortable, though, and he kissed me again later in the evening. I felt even more uncomfortable, even a little disgusted by it. I couldn't tell him that, though. I just left, and if he calls
me again I won't go out with him."
The ironic thing about this
was that this was a psychology student in her final year of studies. I wondered how she could have gone through an entire
psychology program without learning how to verbally express her feelings and without developing the self-confidence to do
Learning to say "I feel uncomfortable"
Once I was
chatting with a 14 year old. Like usual, I was asking questions like "Does your mother slap you?" I find most adolescents have no problem answering such questions, since normally they
are very open. This person, though, told me that felt uncomfortable with my questions. I
said, "Ok" and then apologized. She said that it was okay and that she always tells people when she feels uncomfortable with something.
I don't know where or how
she learned to do this but I was definitely impressed. I wished that someone had taught me how to do that when I was 14. I
might have been able to prevent getting sexually assaulted by my university professor when I was 18, among many other painful experiences after that.
source site: click here
Not Comfortable With Uncomfortable
by George McGurn - November 8, 2000
This week in our
Parenting Workshops we are focusing on uncomfortable feelings. And so many of the parents are feeling very uncomfortable trying to cope with their uncomfortable feelings. It doesn’t seem to make sense that being able to feel uncomfortable feelings can help us solve problems. But being able to experience uncomfortable feelings can act as a warning or danger signal for us.
If we were driving
on a highway at 100 miles an hour and could not experience fear we might get in big trouble. The fear tells us to slow down
before we get hurt. It’s the same with pain. If we put our hand over a burning candle and couldn’t feel pain we
would not take our hand away. And then we would do severe damage to our hand.
One of the toughest
uncomfortable feelings for us to deal with is anger. In our workshops we call this anger wrath. I don’t think anger is a primary feeling we feel. I think anger is a reaction to a primary feeling we felt but did not deal effectively with. Some of the primary feelings that cause anger are:
If you feel 30
pounds of disappointment at 9:00 in the morning and deal effectively with that issue, most of the 30 pounds of disappointment will go away. And then the 30 pounds of disappointment will not turn to anger.
But if you don’t
deal effectively with the 30 pounds of disappointment, this feeling of disappointment will continue as disappointment for a while. But later the feeling of disappointment will begin to turn into anger.
And this new anger
will join the other unresolved anger you have in your system. And when anger has been in your system for a long time you are
very aware of feeling the general feeling of anger. But it’s hard to deal with this general feeling of anger because it has become mixed in with all the other unresolved feelings.
I worked in a weight
loss clinic for a while. And I remember talking with a client about her week of focusing on her healthy eating style. She
told me she did very well for 6 days but Saturday was a disaster. She said that she had plans to socialize on Saturday morning
but her friends called to say they had to cancel out.
Then she called
another friend who said that she would like to go with her. Then at the last minute the friend called back to say she was
not going to be available.
Then the client
told me she began to feel really hungry. And before she knew it she had made herself a huge, unhealthy meal and ruined her week of eating healthy.
Her story didn’t
make much sense to me to we went back over it. We tried to find out what feelings she was really experiencing. As we went over her day she began to see she was feeling frustrated about not being able to
go out with her friends. Then she was able to be even more specific by saying she was feeling very disappointed that her friends didn’t keep their word about going out.
And then she was
able to see that she was really feeling disappointment and not hunger. And the food was not going to help her deal with her feeling of disappointment.
We talked about
the importance of naming the specific feeling we are feeling if we are going to deal with the uncomfortable feeling effectively. Because she was feeling disappointment not hunger, no amount of food was going to make the disappointment go away.
At the weight loss
clinic it was so common for the clients to say they were feeling hunger when they were really experiencing:
And it was so sad
to see these people covering up these uncomfortable feelings with food to try to make the uncomfortable feelings go away.
A key issue in
dealing effectively with uncomfortable feelings is to recognize the specific uncomfortable feeling that you are feeling. And when you name that specific feeling you can begin to develop a plan to deal with the specific feeling.
In the parenting
workshops this is the plan we use to deal with uncomfortable feelings:
feeling: "I am upset!"
Verbally: Talk it out.
Doing: Do something about it.
Forgive, Forget and then move on
Young kids seem
to have a very effective method of dealing with uncomfortable feelings. Just look at them after they fall asleep at night. They usually "sleep like a baby."
Young kids go to
bed with their books balanced and their uncomfortable feelings resolved. They don’t twist and turn all night trying to wrestle with unresolved, uncomfortable
feelings like adults do.
Young kids are:
HONEST: They tell you how they feel. "I am mad at you."
SPONTANEOUS: They don’t wait. When they feel
it they say it.
DIRECT: They don’t beat around the bush.
They get right to the point.
LOUD: They don’t worry about who will hear
them. They want to make sure you hear them. And they don’t want to be "shooshed."
ALL OF IT; They keep going until they get all of
been twisting and turning at night wrestling with unresolved uncomfortable feelings you might want to take a tip from our young kids about dealing more effectively with uncomfortable
Sometimes our kids
can learn from us. Sometimes we can learn from our kids.
source site: click here
When an emotional injury takes place, the body begins a process as natural as the healing of a physical
wound. Let the process happen.
Trust that nature will do the healing.
Know that the pain will pass and, when it passes, you will be stronger, happier, more sensitive and aware.
Listen to your feelings
Your feelings tell you what you really care about and so, there's no right or wrong. Events and situations trigger feelings, but it seems the brain has little control of when a feeling will develop or what it will be.
You do get
to figure out what your feelings are telling you. Putting names to your feelings and taking time to think about what they mean helps you make good decisions. When you decide how important a situation is to you, you may have a different feeling about it the next time it occurs.
aren't responsible for your feelings. The good news is you're not responsible for other people's feelings, even though you may often hear, "You make me soooo angry!"
responsible for your actions.
Denying feelings leads to confusion, resentment and physical stress. Even intense and uncomfortable
feelings are softened when they are acknowledged without criticism or blaming. Allowing yourself to experience uncomfortable emotions means you're also freer to experience joy and peace.
Think about how strong a feeling is.
Feelings go all the way from mild to very strong. Think about
anger. What annoys you just a little? What ticks you off big time?
to feel the whole range of emotions. Do the things that make you feel angry have the same effect for your partner or your friend? Probably not.
emotional responses are unique. Knowing this makes it easier to accept strong emotions in other people, even when you disagree. Low intensity or moderate emotions may not call for any action.
It may be enough
- Be aware of the emotion and the circumstances in which it occurred.
Tuning in to
a positive emotion early on can lead you to exciting opportunities.
Tuning in to
an uncomfortable emotion before it's intense can prevent escalation of both the feeling and concern.
If the same
emotion recurs ever more strongly with the same situation, it's a stronger message that something needs your attention.
Chill out strong feelings.
You know when
a feeling is really strong - you usually have sensations of the stress response (out of network site, be sure to save this window to come back to!) - such as: lump in your throat, knot in your stomach, pounding heartbeat
or shaking knees.
It's not okay to scream or throw stuff and then say, I was so angry, I just blew . When feelings are intense, you need a way to cool down, (out of network site, be sure to save this window to come back to!) or chill out. Then you can try
to figure out what your feelings mean and decide what to do.
Figure out what the feeling means.
If you feel sad, what is it that you've lost that means so much to you? How can you comfort yourself thru this time? Do you need to ask for help?
If you feel angry, what is it that's bugging you? Is it something you can change or fix? If not, do you need to re-think your view of the situation and how you'll respond to it in future?
When you're happy, enjoy it! You deserve good times. Then ask yourself: What is it about the scene that makes me feel so good?
How can you re-create that kind of situation? ... Again and again!
If you feel afraid, what do you need to do to feel safe? Could you decrease your worry by planning ahead a little
better next time? Do you need to talk positively to yourself to get thru a stressful time?
And when you
feel guilty... have you done something you know is wrong? Do you need to apologize or take steps to fix the situation? If you don't believe what you've done is wrong, is there a reason to feel guilty?
Express the feeling.
Tears and laughter are great releases.
Music, art, poetry, sports, talking things over w/a friend or writing
in a journal are other possibilities.
Find your own personal ways to work through feelings. Putting feelings into words is sometimes hard, but other people tune out yelling, whining and complaining.
Check out communication skills (both underlined links in this paragraph are
out of network sites; be sure to keep this original window to get back to!). Using "I" messages to express feelings and ask for what you need will boost self-confidence and earn the respect of others.
Let it go...