Feeling Small

Feeling small.  It’s a condition everyone experiences now and then.  It can occur out of nowhere.  Maybe you are in a conversation and someone talks about something you don’t know anything about.  You might feel small.  Or what about times when someone forgets to include you in something you wanted to be a part of.  You might feel small here too.  Feeling small, it happens.  It happens to all of us.

I think what we’re really feeling though is disconnected from others, disconnected from someone, something or an event.  I think it’s a feeling we get when we are alone and we don’t want to be.  I also think it’s very, very common.  We all feel this “small” feeling at times.

So what do you do about it?  The first thing to do is recognize that it happens and then discover what happens to you.  Get familiar with the feelings inside yourself and start to put words around it.  Maybe it feels like isolation, maybe it feels lonely, perhaps it is sadness, and whatever it is, begin to label it.  What you will be doing is learning about yourself, and your inner world.  These are essential steps to describing what is going on inside yourself.

So why is it important to understand and label what’s happening inside?  First it helps us identify what’s happening with us, so we just don’t feel so terrible.  Second, when we understand what’s going on inside us we can explain it to others. 

So why would you want to describe feelings of loneliness and sadness to anyone, because all these feelings get evoked because you are alone.  You feel disconnected from other people.  If you talk about the feelings, no matter what they are, you will be connecting, which is really what the soul is missing.

I know it’s hard to let people know when you feel these feelings.  These are the kinds of feelings most of us were taught to keep hidden from others.  Many of us were taught to just show happy feelings and hide the hard ones; discomfort, anger, frustration, fear, worry, sadness, guilt, shame.  Few people are taught that these feelings are O.K. to reveal.  Few people feel comfortable saying things like, “I feel angry at you right now,” or “I am full of sadness,” and “I feel guilty about that.”  These are not things that come naturally, but when we can reveal them to others we get rid of the “small” feeling.

When we know what’s happening inside us, when we can identify our feelings, we can then learn how to express them to others.  Usually when we are at this stage we are not yelling, we are calmly explaining what is going on with us.  When others hear what’s happening inside us almost every time they will want to come closer.  A person’s natural instinct is to move toward another when they are describing something vulnerable.  That is what makes us human, our ability to move toward and help others.

So when you experience those times where you just feel left out or “small”, try and remember to turn toward another.  It will lead you toward the connectedness we all crave.

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What To Do When It Feels Like Things Are Broken

 Sometimes when people call to find out about couples counseling I can hear panic in their voice.  I can sense a feeling of worry and fear.  Something is broken and the person on the phone doesn’t know how to fix it and that’s why they are calling.

This is a terrible place to find yourself, not knowing if you can make it in your relationship, wondering if it’s broken, and daring to hope it can ever be better.  All this is pressing on the individual who is making the call.  It’s a helpless kind of feeling.  As if all the things the person knew doesn’t amount to anything and they have to do something absolutely radically different to survive the current difficulty.

It’s a scary call to even consider.  It’s an even harder call to make.  And yet hundreds of people make these calls to therapists and counselors every day.  They call because they are looking for help.  Often they call because they fear everything they know will go away and they have one last effort to make before that happens.

What ever the reason, it’s always a good sign.  People turn to others when what they know doesn’t work anymore.  It’s O.K. to do this when our car breaks down, or if we need a medical check up and to get our taxes done.  But when it comes to our relationships we are not taught to turn to outsiders to help get the relationships back on track. We are taught to take care of it ourselves.  Maybe we are from the thinking that it’s not that bad, it could always be worse or, it will get better, eventually.

Most people feel their relationship is their business, not the business of an outsider, even a therapist.  I get this.  I understand this.  It’s so hard to uncover all the parts that have been hidden from us, from our partner and lay them out in front of a stranger.  I know.  I also know it works.  The process works.  People get a chance, maybe for the first time in their lives to tell their entire story without someone telling them their vision is off or wrong. 

That’s the beauty of counseling.  It comes without judgment.  Therapists are trained to help you say what will be helpful to you, understand what it is you feel and help you ask for what you need to be happy.

It’s so scary to move into this when you have relied on yourself or your partner for everything else.  It’s so hard to even think that someone who doesn’t know you can actually help you make your life and relationship better. 

And that’s exactly our training.  That’s what therapists and counselors do. We help people feel better.  It’s what I do and I love it.

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When Couples Can’t Say What They Want To Say To Each Other

All the couples I work with have something in common.  They want a better relationship with their partner.  It’s universal.  We as humans want to be loved.  We want to feel safe, cared for, supported and nurtured.  We want the best out of life and we want it from our mate.

This is true with all relationships.  Who wants a relationship filled with hurt feelings, criticism, lack of support and silence?  None of the couple I work with.  In fact that’s usually what they talk about when I meet them.  They tell me what’s in their relationship now; fighting, sadness, aloneness, and they tell me they want that gone so they can feel the love again.

Most people think counseling is a way to remove the barriers that have crept in overtime and kept the couple from feeling connected.  The counselor is supposed to remove the barriers and then the couple is happy again. 

One time a client walked into the room and stated, “So this is where the magic happens.”  I laughed with him and responded, “Yes it is.  In fact my magic wand is right over there.”  We laughed again, but the truth behind that statement echoes what most people believe; therapy will fix the problem.

What I like to help people understand is that counseling helps couples understand themselves, their relationship and each other.  I’m their guide to help them in the process.  I know the real success lies in couples who can say everything to their partner without fear of hurting feelings or driving them away.  I know that happy couples know how to listen to their partners without taking everything personally or feeling they have to argue to the death to win an argument.

There are very few rules for a good relationship.  But these guidelines are important.  They sound a lot like the good book, or the Ten Commandments or any other philosophy that treats others with compassion.  They are simple because if you and your mate are conscious, you will not intentionally harm the other.  If you accidently hurt the other, your mate can tell you about the hurt and you can make amends immediately.  You recognize that holding on to hurt feelings harms you and your mate, it keeps you disconnected.  You work hard to resolve difficulties because you know that if you don’t they will build and build and you will have walls between you that leads to all the stuff you don’t want.

The recipe for a good relationship is simple.  The roadmap to getting there may not be.  Each person brings to a relationship his and her experiences from a lifetime of living without the partner.  Included in this history is an unconscious collection of rights and wrongs.  This collection is a template that people fit their lives on to. The rights and wrongs keep us safe in our world. When people find their mate there is an unconscious expectation that the mate will automatically understand the partner’s right-and-wrong template. A person might think, if he or she really loved me, they would automatically know what I needed.

Unfortunately each person brings his and her own template, and they differ.  Most people don’t talk about what they need in the relationship to keep them feeling safe and loved because most people don’t even think about it.  It’s unconscious.  You only are aware of it when it’s not working.  Something happens and you feel misunderstood.  Your perfect person doesn’t know that one important thing about you.  They must be heartless, or even, the wrong person.  The perfect person would know, automatically, because isn’t that what love is?

These are the issues you get to explore in counseling.  You become conscious of when you expect something from your partner without asking for it.  You gain the confidence in yourself to be able to ask for what you need.  You stop blaming your mate for not giving you what you needed when you haven’t let them know what it is.  It’s simple and it can be challenging.  Even so, it’s worth it.

Send your comments to linda@lindanusbaum.com

Learn more about Linda at www.lindanusbaum.com

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