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The Myth of “You Make Me Feel”

Linda: Sherry and Scott found themselves arguing a lot. One of the main causes of their fights revolved around Scott coming home later than he said he would. When he would arrive late, he would be met with blame from Sherry saying, “You make me feel so angry! You are so inconsiderate. I can’t count on you. You make me so mad!” Any good will that Scott had driving home from work, looking forward to reuniting with Sherry, evaporated in the face of such a greeting. He reacted to her harsh judgment, justifying his lateness saying with an angry tone of voice, “Why are you making such a big deal out of this? The way you shout, you’d think I was an ax murderer!”

Sherry had no awareness of her part in their bitter arguments. She believed she was merely sharing her honest feelings, and actually believed that her strong emotions were caused by the external event of Scott’s tardiness. She had no insight that she was ascribing her own meaning to the event of Scott’s lateness.

These two cycled through many bouts of extreme discomfort around his lateness and several other disagreements around his “laid-backness” due to basic personality differences. Scott’s orientation was more relaxed and Sherry’s strict. Sherry saw herself as a highly responsible person and felt duty bound to report her distress to correct Scott.

When Scott and Sherry came to couples’ counseling, it was revolutionary thought for Sherry to realize that it wasn’t Scott’s behaviors that were causing her distress. His behavior was only a trigger for her feelings and her strong reaction had more to do with the meaning and significance that she was attaching to the event. Sherry realized that she was interpreting his behavior as a lack of caring and respect that both hurt and frightened her.

It was a pivotal moment when Sherry saw that she was making HERSELF feel what she was feeling because of all the secondary messages she was telling herself about his behavior. Even after her realization, it took a large number of repetitions to break the old blaming habit that invited Scott’s reactivity when he felt accused of being a bad husband. Sherry made a firm commitment to communicate her feelings of sadness when he was late because she had been looking forward to seeing him. She was able to become vulnerable more of the time to share her fears that he didn’t value her strong preferences around keeping agreements.

When Sherry became more responsible in her expression of her emotions, owning her own feelings rather than blaming, Scott felt much more safety and warmth in their partnership. He kept closer track of the time to arrive when he said he would. His response was not due to fear of getting into trouble, but because he wanted to gift Sherry with showing his care for her. Out of her understanding of how much more skillful it is to share her own tender feelings rather than her judgments Sherry was able to completely delete “You make me feel” from her vocabulary.

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The Myth of “You Make Me Feel”


Bloomwork

Linda Bloom LCSW and Charlie Bloom MSW are considered experts in the field of relationships. They have been married since 1972. They have both been trained as seminar leaders, therapists and relationship counselors and have been working with individuals, couples, and groups since 1975. They have been featured presenters at numerous conferences, universities, and institutions of learning throughout the country and overseas as well. They have appeared on over two hundred radio and TV programs. Linda and Charlie are co-authors of the widely acclaimed books: 101 Things I Wish I Knew When I Got Married: Simple Lessons to Make Love Last (over 100,000 copies sold) Secrets of Great Marriages: Real Truth from Real Couples about Lasting Love, and Happily Ever After...and 39 Other Myths about Love: Breaking Through to the Relationship of Your Dreams. The Blooms are excited to announce the release of their fourth book, That Which Doesn't Kill Us: How One Couple Became Stronger at the Broken Places. They live in Santa Cruz, California, near their two children and three grandchildren. To view our upcoming events and to sign up for our free newsletter, visit our website at: www.Bloomwork.com


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APA Reference
Bloom, L. (2020). The Myth of “You Make Me Feel”. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 29, 2020, from https://blogs.psychcentral.com/relationship-skills/2019/12/the-myth-of-you-make-me-feel/

 

Last updated: 22 Mar 2020
Statement of review: Psych Central does not review the content that appears in our blog network (blogs.psychcentral.com) prior to publication. All opinions expressed herein are exclusively those of the author alone, and do not reflect the views of the editorial staff or management of Psych Central. Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.