Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Know how you really feel

Know how you really feel

By Bob Garon
TODAY Newspaper
Tuesday, March 15, 2005 1:42 AM

Part 1 of 4 parts

I have written countless articles over the years about love, but it never seems like it is possible to exhaust this topic. Perhaps it is because love is so complex and it is so very subjective. It is experienced differently by different people.

I would like to focus through on a few fundamental requirements that are needed if one is to love successfully and over the long term.

The first is about feelings. You need to be aware of your feelings and be able to identify them. This might sound like a nonstarter. Don’t I know what I’m feeling? You may be surprised to know that people often have great difficulty with getting in touch with their feelings. They often don’t know what it is that they are feeling. Is it anger, frustration, or anxiety? Is it love or need? Why is it that I don’t like someone? He has not done anything bad to me, yet I don’t like him.

In my work counseling people and helping them to rebuild their lives, I spend quite a bit of time dealing with feelings. Aside from identifying them, you need to know where they are coming from.

I remember a woman who hated her father with a fierceness that was extraordinary. When I asked her why, she couldn’t tell me why. “I don’t know” was all she would answer me. Still, she couldn’t stand him, but could not truly tell me why. It was clear that she was sincere in wanting to know why, but, according to her, just didn’t know.

Strangely, she was in love with a man who was very much like her dad and intended to marry him. When she told me this, I told her that I expected that she would often flare up at him for some little thing or for no reason at all. I was right. She told me that she dominated the guy and was the one who wore the pants in the relationship.

“Then why do you want to marry him?” I asked. “Because I love him” was her answer. She was obviously not aware of the nature of her feelings for the man. Nor did she know where they were coming from. Here was a relationship headed for unhappiness and disaster unless she could decipher her complex and confusing feelings about her dad and the link between her relationship with him and the man she hoped to marry.

Another attractive woman I counseled had a string of six boyfriends. She never slept with any of them and when each one asked for her hand in marriage, she dumped them. When I asked her why, she didn’t know. Further probing revealed that she had been sexually abused and, in fact, deeply mistrusted men. Through it all, however, she did not think she had a problem. Her feelings were all mixed up and she could not understand why she had turned down so many proposals. The truth is that she had a lot of unresolved issues coming from the past. They created a lot of feelings that were getting in the way of her finding the love that she sought.

A strong awareness of your feelings and knowing where they are coming from is the first requirement for loving effectively. Failure in this matter will almost surely mean big trouble ahead.

More on this tomorrow.


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