How Faux-Feelings Are Sabotaging Your Communication Efforts


Woman's face half-covered by mask

Getting in touch with our feelings and sharing "I-statements" is a known strategy for communicating nonviolently and bettering our chances of being heard.


So why isn't it working?!


Faux-Feelings are Actually Thoughts


"I feel like you're ignoring me."

"I'm feeling attacked!"

"This feels so disrespectful."

"I feel like you're forcing me!"


While these I-statements all seem to focus on what you are feeling, they are in fact making an interpretation about the other person's actions and intent.


For example, it may or may not be true that someone is ignoring you, but you do not feel ignored — you are actually interpreting that they are ignoring you.


Just for a moment, recall a time when someone seemed to be ignoring you. Tune into your body and find what this feeling of "ignored" is like.


I assume you'll find that there isn't a feeling of ignored, but rather there are one or more feelings making this unique soup of emotion, depending upon the situation. Perhaps you feel angry, impatient, frustrated, sad, lonely, or some combination.


You think they are doing something to you, which is causing you to feel negative emotions.


It's More Than Semantics


While this may seem like an unimportant semantic, it actually can put a large kink in your communication flow.


Feelings are an embodied experience, like sensations. Sharing an emotion or sensation with someone is to name a truth of your experience.


Real feelings can't be argued with.


You may not like that I'm sad, angry, frustrated, or embarrassed, but you can't deny that it's happening for me. It's a fact, like giving a weather report: it's foggy, raining, cloudy, a thunderstorm.


In contrast, judgments and interpretations are stories and can have many narratives. To say that I'm feeling attacked is to say that you are attacking me, that you mean to harm me, that you are doing something wrong.


It's a Setup for Struggle


Thinking that your judgment is your feeling sets you up for struggle.