How do you feel? This has been the single most important question I have learned to ask people in times that are difficult and emotionally charged. So, why is it so important?
In the past I might try to logically analyze what somebody is going through. Let me take a step back. I still do try to logically analyze what a person is going through. I believe that when we look at thinks logically they are usually not as bad as they might seem when we’re all caught up emotionally. However, I understand that not everybody thinks the same way (fortunately).
With that said, I learned to ask people the question, “How do you feel?”
I do this at times when a person expresses a difficult or unpleasant circumstance, event, or other situation. Asking the question helps cut through the logical part (which I’ll keep in my head for a bit longer), and aims to understand how it is actually affecting the person.
The answer to this question is oftentimes something to the effect of, “I’m okay with it.” I might have anticipated their response to be different when I thought about it, but taking the time to ask helps me to understand where they are at.
A high school teacher of mine told the class to “Never apologize for your feelings and emotions. They are natural.”
It was pretty good advice, even though I do believe we can control our emotions to some degree.
Nevertheless, the best examples I can think of pertain to a situation like this: I’m dealing with two friends. We will call them “Friend A” and “Friend B”. Friend A insults Friend B and upsets them a lot. At first, I’d tend to side with Friend B and sympathize with them, perhaps even treating Friend A differently. But lo and behold, upon talking with Friend B, I ask them “How do you feel about it?” A lot of times Friend B is over the situation before I am. The funny thing is, I might be operating on (my) principles, but why am I holding a grudge with Friend A for something they didn’t do to me, and for something that Friend B is now over?
Asking the question about feeling has helped me gain perspective on a lot of situations. I think more with my head than my heart, like a good deal of people do. This question and understanding helps deal with people who tend to think more with their heart, but also works for everybody because we all still have feelings.
Of course there are situations where we might choose to never forgive Friend A, but those would have to be to the extreme.
Consider inserting that question into repertoire, and more importantly, listen to the response. Digest the response, and then get on with life accordingly.