What's Underneath that Feeling?

Updated: Jul 19, 2021

What’s underneath all of this frustration?” Is really just another way of asking “Why are you this angry?” but it hit me like a ton of bricks.

What else is going on here that I’m reacting to? What’s really happening?

We were only talking about client deliverables at my desk. It wasn’t that big of a deal, not really. But my frustration and tension was palpable and contagious. I could feel it creeping around and infecting everyone around me. Maybe that’s just my main character syndrome showing, but I remember my mood being really loud that day.

When my boss asked “what’s underneath all of this frustration?” I felt seen. I felt accepted. I felt like there was space for me to have an emotional reaction, even at work. It was the first time I’d ever felt that.

Growing up, I heard a lot of “be a big girl,” “be a good example for your sister,” “you’re tough as nails,” and “don’t be so sensitive.” The phrases varied but the message was clear: we don’t have time or space for your emotions here, and they’re too big anyway. You’re too much and you need to be less so I can deal with you.

I never even considered that sitting with an emotion was a possibility, let alone finding ways to better understand why they’re happening. Emotions were always something to suppress, ignore, or protect yourself from; if I could stop myself from feeling anything, I couldn’t get hurt.

“What’s underneath that?” set me on a path that would lead to better conflict with my husband, Matt, a deeper understanding of my own thoughts and emotions, and most importantly: therapy.

The importance of being seen and accepted for who you are as a person is wildly underrated. We’re starting to understand how important it is for children as they grow up (shout out to gentle parenting, baby!), but what about the adults in our lives?

How can we ask good questions that make them feel seen, accepted, and safe? What can we do to create space for people to bring their whole selves to the table? Can we show up as our full selves to show others that they are welcome, just as they are?

I don’t know if she intended to set me on the path I’m on or not, but I deeply appreciate her for saying what she did and for taking a moment to see that it wasn’t just client deliverables that were pissing me off.

Thanks Lisa.

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