Feeling Felt

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Communication is essential for healthy relationships; yet often neglected. True communication requires more than rattling off words. Deep communication is a connecting of souls where thoughts and feelings leap from one person to another—a commune between spirits where words often fail. Many people struggle, missing this lesson in childhood; often because there were no skilled teachers available. The baby is a bundle of feelings first, long before words arrive.

Words just facilitate communications of inner experience, often the sounds fail, a weak medium for conveying complex emotions. Sharing emotions is complicated when we barely know what we are experiencing ourselves—we ache but don’t know why; so, we blindly react, exploding to trivial triggers.

Key Definition

Feeling felt is the subjective experience of emotional attunement, where another person recognizes, and validates our emotional experience. Feeling felt is the sense that we exist in the mind of another person.

“Daniel Siegel, who coined the term interpersonal neurobiology, uses the concept of “feeling felt” to describe the ability of one person to empathically and authentically encounter another person.”

Robyn Penmen | Center for Intercultural Dialogue

​Lost in blindness, many relationships express undefined emotions with manipulations, projections and heated words—this is not open communication.

Being Felt

Beyond the words, there must be understanding—understanding of emotions. In addition, we need more than just understanding, but also validation. Our emotions often get lost in words that vaguely convey an underlying personal experience. We want to be others to understand our intimate experience. We want to be accepted. Winning a battle of words fails to soothe our lonely souls. The win is meaningless if we still feel unnoticed and misunderstood ​ A hidden theme beneath most intimate communications is, “Can I count on you?” While unspoken, the search for attachment and acceptance strongly influences human interactions, especially with intimate partners and family.

“‘Feeling felt’ implies empathy paired with acceptance and presence. It engenders not only understanding, but also resonance.”

Sharon  | Partners in Healing

The search for compassionate acceptance gets smashed against the wall of despair when small concerns ignite a heated battle of wills. Instead of a quick response, or defensive reaction, we must reply to the bid for safety, even when the hazy words trying to express a want are unclear.

​With effort, we can step back and see the distress even when the words don’t match. We should respond to the distress, not the words. ​Open communication solidifies bonds and builds trust—required for intimacy. The healing salve of connection isn’t won through stinging remarks, and words that pierce the hardened heart of a lover. We build connection through a much deeper communication—in a smile, in a touch, in understanding.  The feeling of being felt heals wounds, opens minds, and creates trust.

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