One of the top 5 regrets of the dying is ‘I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings’. Given that we never know when our life is going to come to an end, it’s a really good idea to not only express our feelings, but by doing that, keep our relationships up to date and healthy. Easier said than done, I know! But here’s three ways to help with this. Even using one of these suggestions, once a week, will begin to create more open-heartedness in your relationship, and go a very long way towards not having regrets towards the end of your life.
Appreciation is something that both giver and receiver benefit from. When we appreciate something or someone, we recognize its full worth, and that is what is so meaningful. Bring this into your relationship by being willing to state overtly what you appreciate about your partner.
To do this easily, simply say ‘I appreciate you because…’ and then state something you appreciate. Or leave them a note stating this. I once visited the bathroom of a friend’s house. Up on the mirror was a Post It note with this sentence on. She and her husband had agreed to do this to remind them to not take each other for granted. By focusing on one thing about each other they really appreciated, every day, they reminded themselves regularly why they had fallen in love in the first place, and what was still keeping them together.
It’s really difficult to appreciate someone without also having an open heart, and feeling open-hearted is necessary for a full and satisfying relationship. That also means one in which there are few, if any, regrets.
Use ‘I’ statements
Examples of what we usually say are things like ‘You just think money grows on trees!’, ‘You’re always on your phone, you never listen to me’, or You’re such a slob, you just expect me to clean up after you all the time’
These might sound very familiar, or maybe you don’t say them yourself, but you know others who do. The problem with these statements is that they all begin with an accusatory ‘you’, and those to whom they are directed will almost always begin to feel defensive, resentful and definitely not open-hearted. That’s because the statement in the way it is worded is easily perceived as an attack.
Using an ‘I’ statement, however, you can still get your message across, but in such a way that it is much more likely to be heard. For instance, instead of the above you could say: ‘When you spend money on extra things, I feel anxious and worried’, ‘When you keep your phone out at dinner, or answer it, I feel unappreciated and not very important’, and ‘You know something? I feel really overwhelmed and unappreciated when you don’t do your share of the housework. Can we discuss it?’
Using an ‘I’ statement like this means you are taking responsibility for your own feelings, you are expressing them consciously and with care, and you are still being assertive, but not in such a hostile and aggressive manner. ‘I’ statements also allow for interaction and discussion, thereby keeping the channels of communication open.
Asking A Scary Question
My late husband Philip and I used to ask each other a question that could be quite scary, depending on when it was asked. The question was:
‘Do you feel loved by me?
This is a much more unusual statement about love than the familiar way of expressing your love by saying ‘I love you’. Not that there is anything wrong at all with saying ‘I love you’; but asking whether the other feels loved by you is quite different. For a start, you have to be willing to hear an honest answer!
If the answer is yes, you might want to know how they feel loved. If the answer is no, you might want to know why that is too. Either way it can lead to an honest discussion, which of course is why it can sometimes be a bit scary!
I noticed that when I was the one asking, I really had to be willing to hear a ‘no’, and then to be open to hearing the reasons why not. If I was being asked the question, I had to respond just as honestly. What happened was that every single time, it helped us feel closer, more intimate, and more involved with each other.
Do you have any unusual ways you express your feelings in your relationships?
Have you tried any of the above? If so what worked, and didn’t work?
Share in the comments and let us know!