Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Your Feelings and Mine Hold Equal Importance, Really They Do

Today I read a statement that stopped me cold - just an innocuous little statement in the middle of several others. Johanna Garth is doing something she calls The Fulfillment Project to make her already good life a little better or something to that effect. Today, on her blog, Losing Sanity, she's talking about a reward system of marbles she set up for her children. She lists a few of the things for which they can earn marbles. One of those things is what made me pause and think. She included "put someone else's feelings before your own" as a behavior that earns a marble. In theory, I don't disagree, but alarm bells started going off in my head. When we teach children to put others feelings before their own, we have to be careful to not teach them that their feelings aren't important.

It's one thing to value someone else's feelings, but it should never come at the expense of one's own feelings. I learned this the hard way. In many ways, as a lot women I know were, I was raised to put everyone else's feelings first and consequently to believe that my feelings didn't matter, or at least were less important. I don't think this was necessarily the intended message, but it was the lesson learned.

There's a fine line between putting someone else's feelings first and devaluing your own. For a long time, I thought it was one or the other, so I would swing between devaluing my feelings and demanding that others value them. I think it's very important that we as human beings learn to value other people's feelings without devaluing our own. It has taken me years to truly know this beyond a conceptual idea and even longer to implement it in my life. I still struggle with this, but I'm getting better at it.

When we value our own feelings, we learn to own them. We learn to understand them. We learn to accept them. We learn that no one can dictate them to us. We learn to share them appropriately and without fear. We learn that every feeling we have is not only our right but our responsibility.

It's only when we truly value our own feelings, that we can even begin to honestly value someone else's in a healthy and productive way. Until that moment, all we're doing is sacrificing our feelings, perhaps our very being, in order to value someone else's feelings. And, that person may never value our feelings like we value his/hers. In a perfect world they would, but this world is far from perfect.

So, I say let's all learn to value one another's feelings without devaluing our own. Your feelings are just as important as mine. My feelings are just as important as yours. Think how much better we'd treat one another if we all lived by that simple concept...

Okay, today should've been the Albany Citizen's Police Academy post, but this felt more important, so you get the Albany Citizen's Police Adademy tomorrow. Hope your feelings are okay with that!

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