I just spent two weeks with engineers, largely helping them understand that feelings are important! Helping them experience the affective side of their interactions with one another and how perception-checking in the moment("It seems like you might be disappointed about that") is often the key to unlocking our relationships with one another.
In general, I'd say most of us suck at this. We blaze on through our lives with this idea that really dipping into those deep places is a distraction. And it's certainly not efficient. Or if we go there at all, we save it for the therapist.
One of my maxims this year is NO LIFELESS CONVERSATIONS! That doesn't mean everything has to be serious (yawn), but, if I'm bored in a conversation, my intention is to start the kinds of conversations I want to have. And not to be scared of where they might lead or if I'll be rebuffed. Life is too short to spend it hovering on the surface, holding back, making nice. (For total inspiration, I love this article, The End of Small Talk. The story of a man on a business trip who decides to ask his colleague how he and his wife fell in love. Such a beautiful example of being present instead of checking out.)
I'm glad my clients haven't installed hidden cameras in my house. I'm less than stellar about making space for Loretta's emotions sometimes. I used to have a scrap of paper on my fridge that said, "You can't discipline an emotion." The only thing to do is to be with it. I'm slowly learning and, as always, it's usually poetry that helps me. Here's something I wrote this week after some parenting fails.
Feeling it All
Lately, the slightest things undo her--
another reminder about chores,
her big brother going off to another
Big Brother Extravaganza,
favorite shoes or coat lost around the house.
Today, sadly, I scolded, launched straight
into a lecture about flexibility, maturity,
throwing a T.V. threat in for good measure.
When I'm awake, though,
when I'm remembering the child I used to be,
I get down on the floor
in her muddled pile.
I take her in my arms if she'll let me,
I let the cookies in the oven burn,
I hold her for all the tears I should have cried.
I believe her sadness,
the total perfect fucked-up-ness
of this moment,
and how the best, the only thing to do
is feel it all.