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Feelings

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Sep. 17th, 2003 | 05:17 pm

I was chatting with someone recently and they pointed out how I tend to illustrate things with references to studies and not with my feelings.

One of my most common feelings is a sense of sadness since I am alone and that I feel it will always be so. My observation is that expressing that feeling drives people away--reinforcing the source of that feeling. If I want to meet someone I feel like I shouldn't express the feeling of loneliness.

What I've learned is that people only want to experience your feelings if they're happy, silly, cheerful feelings--despair, depression, hopelessness, bitterness never seem to be appreciated. (There's also the one I have the most trouble feeling--anger).

But several people have seemed to want me to express my feelings, should I? There is always the chance that if I get better at expressing them I might occasionally express a positive one. Though that assumes that I get to have positive ones, since it seems that sharing the things that I feel strongly about causes everyone to flee.

For instance as I share what I've learned about the state of our environment people start feeling depressed and to escape they desperately try to change the subject.

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Comments {10}

geekgirl

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from: warsop
date: Sep. 17th, 2003 06:37 pm (UTC)
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It's my experience that it's a matter of being selective about to whom you share your feelings, the amount of time you spend expressing your feelings, and the point in your friendship at which you express your feelings.

If you are always negative, and you go on at length about it, then you are going to have fewer people who want to talk to you. If you are generally positive, or at least somewhere bordering neutral, then you'll have a larger audience. Friendships tend to start with positive feelings shared, and as the friendship grows, sharing more negative and/or personal feelings is more appropriate.

Part of this is that people need to learn their way around your feelings. If they don't know you very well, they don't know how to respond. They're left feeling very uncomfortable: why are you telling them this? what can they say to make the situation better, or at least make you feel better about the situation?

Your example of the environment is an excellent one. People don't just want to know how much it sucks. They want to know what possible solutions there are. They want to know what they can do. They prefer to come by it in small steps -- very few people go from driving a Hummer to riding their bike 30 miles overnight. They don't want to deal with someone who is self-righteous about what that person is doing to save the planet.

I've no idea if any of this makes sense. I'm just blathering off the top of my head. :)

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Diane Trout

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from: alienghic
date: Sep. 17th, 2003 07:15 pm (UTC)
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Yes it does make sense...

Hmm. The person wanting me to be more expressive is one who does know me reasonably well. Perhaps their comment is motiviated because even thI've remained reserved. Perhaps I'm stunting the friendship by not allowing myself to slowly start sharing what I'm feeling.

That makes sense and seems like it's possible to manage my sharing enough to avoid terrifying them while building a closer friendship.

I'll need to think about this some more, thanks. :)

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Josh

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from: irilyth
date: Sep. 17th, 2003 07:35 pm (UTC)
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I think talking about your feelings is a means, not an end. Someone might tell you that they want you to talk about your feelings more, but I'll bet that what they really want is to understand you better, or feel closer to you, or help you work something out, or some other goal besides the immediate pleasure of conversation.

One consequence of that is that context matters, a lot. If you're at a party where people are there to have fun, talking about silly, happy, cheerful things is appropriate in that context, and talking about how much everything sucks probably isn't. Conversely, if you're in a situation where the point is to talk about serious issues, being too flippant may be annoying to others, while being negative can lead to interesting insights. Someone who wants to get to know you better probably does want to hear about how you really feel, both positive and negative. When the checkout clerk at the Trader Joe's asks how you're doing, they're just making small talk. :^) Some of that is obvious, I'm sure, but questions like "should I talk about my feelings more" aren't just a simple yes/no thing.

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Diane Trout

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from: alienghic
date: Sep. 18th, 2003 12:02 am (UTC)
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It's been a close friend whose been pestering me to be more open with them. I've had a habit of maintaining emotional distance between myself and the rest of the world. I'm thinking that perhaps I could work at slowly trusting more.

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(no subject)

from: musicwomyn
date: Sep. 17th, 2003 09:40 pm (UTC)
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I think you should share if you feel comfortable. I find that I relate to people better when I hear the darker side of them, the negative emotions, because that's what I know best. But, I have the same fears you have about sharing that stuff. I worry about scaring people away, and have.

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Diane Trout

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from: alienghic
date: Sep. 18th, 2003 12:04 am (UTC)
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I can feel a bit more comfortable dealing with darker emotions. Though once I did listen to one friend talk about her depression and now she's severely depressed. I know I tend to blame myself too much but I do wonder if encouraging her to focus on what was bothering her helped trap her in depression.

I've certainly scared people away as well.

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her other side

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from: saltbox
date: Sep. 18th, 2003 06:47 am (UTC)
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For instance as I share what I've learned about the state of our environment people start feeling depressed and to escape they desperately try to change the subject.

Hah. That's why you find a bunch of people who realize the same things you do, and then you huddle together and gripe and gripe and gripe until you're really depressed. But at least no one's trying to change the subject!

Plus after awhile you get to the productive bits too.

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Diane Trout

(no subject)

from: alienghic
date: Sep. 18th, 2003 02:54 pm (UTC)
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It takes being able to deal with the depressing stuff to come up with the ideas for solutions. (Though once one has ideas on what to do it's easier to get people to listen).

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cat

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from: neko_san
date: Sep. 19th, 2003 03:02 pm (UTC)
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What I've learned is that people only want to experience your feelings if they're happy, silly, cheerful feelings--despair, depression, hopelessness, bitterness never seem to be appreciated.

i hate to sound overly cynical - but i agree with you completely.

maybe people respond better to negative feelings when there's something simple they can do to help.

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Diane Trout

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from: alienghic
date: Sep. 19th, 2003 03:08 pm (UTC)
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I think the feeling powerless is a good point. Though mostly I was complaining about being told to share my feelings, when really I've leared that people don't want me to share them. (I found it rather confusing).

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