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Dr David Christian Marriage Advice

5 Steps to Dealing With Your Feelings

5 Steps to Dealing With Your Feelings

Have you ever snapped at someone and wondered where all that emotion came from? Or, have you snapped at someone and that person stared at you in disbelief, wondering where all the venom was coming from?

I have found that most of us have very poorly integrated emotions. In other words, we live with emotions floating around inside of us, disconnected from our memories or current day life experiences.

Someone has said, “A feeling denied is intensified.” This is very true. While we may believe we can suppress emotions and they will simply disappear, this is not the case. Those emotions live and breathe beneath the surface, erupting in overreactions.

Let me offer a more specific example.

Some time ago a couple, Jim and Jane, came to The Marriage Recovery Center after having been separated for several months. Both carried a lot of pain and wounding about the events that led up to the separation and the separation experience itself. Both had a lot of deeply held hurt, feelings of betrayal and sadness. However, because those emotions were not processed effectively, they came out in errant ways.

“I haven’t been able to really talk about how hurt I was to be asked to leave the home,” Jim said, tears welling up in his eyes. “I’ve just had to grin and bear it.”

“I don’t think you’ve grinned and bore it,” Jane said. “You’ve gotten back at me in a lot of indirect ways. You make snide comments and are sarcastic with me. You blame me for the separation even though you did a lot to bring it about. I think you’ve overreacted to a lot of things.”

“Maybe so,” he acknowledged.

“I wonder if you both have a lot of hurt that we’re going to need to talk about—in a safe manner,” I said.

Both nodded their heads to this suggestion. We spent the next several days talking directly and honestly about feelings, learning to name them, take responsibility for them, and ask for help from their mate in dealing with them. With feelings integrated into their thought life and learning to understand their e-motion (energy in motion) they were better equipped to ask for what they needed from God, themselves and their mate.

Let’s look a little more closely at this issue and its application to us.

First, learn to be tuned into your feelings. I call this “feeling and dealing.” A healthy person is one who knows what they are feeling, why they are feeling what they’re feeling and what that emotion indicates. Feelings not dealt with WILL be expressed in indirect ways, often leading to something destructive.

Second, be assertive with your feelings. God has given us feelings and we need to embrace them. If we embrace them, and express them in healthy ways, we won’t express them in passive-aggressive or hostile ways. Learn to ask for what you need, understanding that you are your primary caretaker of your feelings while your mate can be a secondary caretaker of them.  

Third, practice naming feelings. I encourage everyone to go on an “emotions hunt” on a daily basis. What did you feel today? How did you express those feelings? If you’re unsure, go looking for different feelings and become conversant with a broad range of feelings.

Fourth, practice listening to the feelings of your mate. Not only listen to their feelings, but attend to and listen for unexpressed feelings. Listen to the words they use and the feelings that lie beneath their particular expressions. Help them name their feelings if they would like assistance. 

Finally, get into the habit of sharing feelings openly and regularly with each other. Doing so will be great insurance against overreactions which stem from suppressed and poorly integrated feelings. As we learn to “feel and deal” with our emotions, we learn to take better care of ourselves and each other. We become familiar with a broad range of emotions and learn what they can teach us. We limit the explosions that occur from hurtful words, passive-aggression and stonewalling. We learn to make healthy connections.  

If you would like to learn more about Core Self Integration and how it can helpful to you, please go to our website, and discover more information about this topic, watching my video series, 30 Days to Relational Fitness. Please send responses to me at and also read more about The Marriage Recovery Center on our website. You’ll find videos and podcasts on sexual addiction, emotionally destructive marriages, codependency and affair-proofing your marriage.

Publication date: November 4, 2014