The one mistake we all inevitably make in relationships.
We turn our feelings into facts!
This is the biggest mistake that we make in our relationships, especially in the arguments of those relationships. Faster than the roll of an eye, or the shrug of a shoulder, or an angry impulsive outburst, we turn our hurt feelings into an undeniable fact about ourself, or the person we love.
But feelings, are just that … feelings! Whilst thoughts are simply thoughts, and … facts are …. well to be honest …
they are highly debatable beliefs which we hold as undeniable facts…
They limit our lives and our relationships, keeping us stuck in old narratives.
Here’s a really simple but common example (pseudonyms used).
Nicola is fed up – every time she tries to discuss an issue with her partner,James, his shoulders slump and he heads for the door. The more times this happens, the more angry and accusatory her tone becomes, and the quicker James exits the room.
Of course Nicola feels hurt, frustrated, even abandoned in that moment.
But it’s what she does next with those hurt feelings, that escalates the argument and locks their dance of discord into a repetitive loop.
In a millisecond, she has turned the momentary chemical explosion of her feelings, into an incontestable fact about James – “You don’t care – You don’t even love me!” is what Nicola hurls at James’s back as he heads out the door.
Whilst I can empathise with Nicola’s devastated feelings in that moment, I see the reason James has behaved this way, is far more complex than the simple ‘fact’, Nicola has seized upon from her lived experiences of her father’s turned back. Yes Nicola’s father used to turn his back when he felt guilty for having left her mother and so, in turn, his sweet 6 year old daughter. Nicola, with the wisdom available to a 6 year old, deduced the ‘truth’, the ’fact’, and now the limiting belief, that her father turned his back because he no longer cared for her, that ‘in fact’, ‘men stop caring’.
But I can see that James isn’t a man who has stopped caring, he just doesn’t quite know how to care for Nicola when she gets stuck in this place of outraged frustration and he doesn’t want to make it worse by saying the wrong thing, so to preserve the relationship as best he can, he heads out the door to avoid an argument. When Nicola accuses him of not caring, when he really deeply cares so much, well he then feels justifiably wrongly blamed and jumps to his own ‘feeling-fact’ that she’s totally unreasonable and she just wants a fight, not to ‘clear the air’ ‘in fact’!
It isn’t that momentary feeling of hurt which is brought to the counselling room, but a tangled web of confusion built from feelings that have been turned into facts.
It’s not the initial feeling that does the repeated damage keeping them locked in this cycle of arguing. It’s the reactive mistaken ‘feeling-fact’ that they each stubbornly cling to, which continues to hurt them long after the incident has passed.
So what feelings are you turning into facts?
HINT: They will most likely be related to some past attachment trauma – and sometimes it’s much easier and wiser to unpack that with a relationship therapist.
Feelings are NOT facts … but too often we turn them into facts.
‘Facts’ that continue to hurt us and keep us stuck in the same old wounding cycles!