Friday, February 16, 2018


This picture popped up in my Facebook feed this morning and got me to thinking. Actually, what it really did was played into some thinking that was already happening. I don't have a resolution to my thinking, nor have I definitive answers to my questions, but that hasn't stopped me before, so here goes:

. . . Can people make you feel a particular way? I know there are times we all try to make someone else have a specific (usually unpleasant) feeling, but does it take?

. . . A difficult CPE* supervisor once said something demeaning to me. Using my best learned communication skills, I told her, "When you said . . . I felt put down." Her response astonished me: "Well, why on earth would you choose to feel that way?" This comment flew in the face of everything I'd ever learned about healthy communication. I had always understood that feelings are part of our primitive selves, instinctive, spontaneous, not deliberated and selected.

. . . I came to believe, after considerable reflection, that there are feelings that might be described as authentic in that they are the first ones that crop up at a particular time; they are an instinctive response to a stimulus. Yet they can be examined by the self and modified by what the examination shows.

. . .We don't have to automatically accept the [usually destructive] feelings that someone else wants us to have.

. . . Sometimes people know how something that they did made us feel, but not always. Sometimes we have to tell them.

*Clinical Pastoral Education


Janet O. said...

And sometimes they don't care.
But I know when my Dad passed in 2016, every single one of his 20 grandchildren wanted to be there--because of "how grandpa made me feel". His first concern was always the other person--never himself. Whether the grandchild ascribed to his Christian beliefs, or not, he was interested in their lives, concerned about their well being, and complimentary about their accomplishments. You can't help but "feel good" around someone like that.
On the other side of the coin, I do believe we can choose to alter our "authentic" feeling, with effort. Choosing not to be offended is a big one. Choosing to love someone whom others may consider unlovable can be a truly challenging decision.
I'll get off my soapbox now, but I did enjoy your musings.

Helen said...

Goodness, you touched a nerve for me with this post! :)

I do believe that some people have a way of making you feel special by the things they say. I also believe that some people have a way of putting you down by the things they say. My husband tells me that I read too much into what people say to me...I suppose he might be right, and I also know he's looking out for me when he tells me this.

I've had a former student come up to me and say that I made them feel so good when I said "this or that" to them. I'm also sure that I have said some not-so-nice things, too...hopefully those things are fewer than the nice things.

When using the "I" approach to tell someone how they impacted you, this is how I feel about it. If I said to you that "I felt this way when you said ..... to me" and I get a response like you did from your difficult CPE instructor, I realize that they don't care about my feelings. A simple "Oh goodness, I never meant to hurt you that way," is so easy and a much kinder answer. Like Janet O said, some people don't care.

To end my "soapbox", I tend to dwell on the negative often times. It's one of my personality traits that I don't like, but I try to stop doing it when I find myself engaging that "frame of mind". One of my places/activities to negative self talk is when I'm sewing. I love sewing, but negative things pop into my mind for some reason. I try to remember to turn on music while in my sewing does seem to sooth my savage breast.

Have a wonderful day, Nancy. I love reading your blog and your FB posts. You brighten my day. (((hugs)))

Anonymous said...

As I've gotten older, I have become better at identifying alternatives to my initial authentic feelings, which often leads me to feel better. I can't help but see the potential for abuse of that, though, when I think of people like your supervisor who *should* feel bad at some level after hearing you say you felt hurt but then choose to blame it on you instead of accepting any responsibility for their actions. Perhaps the denial of responsibility is their initial authentic feeling, but I feel like there are many people who quickly and instinctively rationalize away any feeling they don't like to experience. I certainly don't want to do that, myself. I guess the trick is to make sure that when I help myself, I do no harm to others.

Shasta Matova said...

A lot of how you feel about what someone does depends on how you feel about them. If you trust them to be kindhearted, you will take what you say as advice instead of criticism. If you don't care about the person's opinion, then their negative words will roll off your back. All feelings are genuine, but we do have to examine how accurate our interpretation that caused the ill feeling is.

I think the quote is about treating people with kindness so that they feel good around you.

Carol- Beads and Birds said...

Shasta said just what I was thinking as I read your post. Often words are not interpreted as the person meant them due to their poor communication. I find my daughters texts to me to be that way. I often must ask her to explain what she meant. But on it's own, the meme is accurate. You will always remember how someone made you feel, whether good or bad. Always.
xx, Carol