How emotional granularity works
And what to do about our feelings once we know what they are
When someone you love tells you that the last two years of their life have been the worst, it is hard not to take it personally. Particularly when they spend all their time with you. No one close to us died. But is that really true? There were things that died. It’s cliche to say this but: our hopes, and plans, friendships, my grandfather no longer calls me (or remembers my name), my father is tired, my mother stressed, my sister feels lost. (BTW, none of these people read my newsletter. It seems horrible that I can say things here to you, without knowing you; I am so thankful for this release.)
How long are we meant to endure this sadness? Sometimes I wish this slow death would just cut to the chase. And take me as I am. But I am working on this—it is one of the things I hide from others while I work to sort it out. To find the resources within me to keep going. But for how long?
For the past couple of weeks, we have been focusing on defining personal needs in our house. Putting text to thoughts and feelings that are often brushed to the side in the everyday business of living. I think that the general theory on why this is important is that if we can define our personal needs, express them to each other, we can then figure out ways in which we can get our own needs met and meet the other’s needs, while still doing the day-to-day of life.
It seems like a lot. It is also a lot when I feel like I cannot ask for my needs, and the other person doesn’t know their needs, and already feels like I am asking for too much. How can we do more? Be more?
Back to figuring out what we want in life and what are needs are. I am tearing up as I write this, because I have this deep feeling that my needs are not being met. And at the same time an intense sense of gratitude for what I have. And the needs that are being met.
My eyes started watering when I googled, “how to figure out what your needs are?” The search results were not rewarding. Mostly saying things like, “Stop, breathe, in the moment notice how you are feeling. Use these emotions as data and not directives.” But that is all fine and dandy. And if I was going to do it now, what emotion is coming up when I just google this is that this topic makes me sad. This “sad” data points to my discontentment with life at the moment.
If I follow the wheel down from Sadness, it is hard not to say that I feel all of those things. But the one that sticks out is Lonely. I feel Lonely. I feel isolated. I feel abandoned and disappointed. Which is all weird things to feel in that I have not been abandoned. And I am not isolated from my partner. And I really have not been alone in years now.