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Respect and Feelings

Feelings are the emotional and physical responses to what we think about and how we react to daily events. Feelings are natural—we can't stop them from happening. Because we are all different, we respond to feelings in various ways, sometimes positively and sometimes negatively. By acting responsibly towards our feelings, in both words and actions, we can learn to respect ourselves and others.

It is hard to act responsibly when our actions are a result of our feelings. Often myths and erroneous statements complicate these feelings. Do either of these myths about feelings sound familiar?

"Feelings, that sissy stuff." Recognizing that feelings are real and natural for everyone is important. Some of us may never acknowledge that emotions or feelings are a part of living. It may be difficult for some of us to talk about our feelings. An important step in building self awareness and relationships with others is learning about personal feelings. Most individuals learn to accept feelings, both good and bad.

Feelings don't exist—so no one should talk about them. Denial of feelings can damage relationships and can build up emotions to the point of eruption of negative behavior, such as when an angry person hits the table. Thinking that we cannot talk to those we respect about our feelings may cause a "shut down" emotionally. Talking about personal feelings with friends and family may help.

Instead of denying feelings, give them words. Feelings tell us something about ourself, just like an information chart. Develop a list of "feeling words" and mount them on the wall or the back of the door. Every time you or someone in your family "feels" a certain way, write the word or draw the face that best describes it. Occasionally at the dinner table develop a story built on feeling words. Begin...

Today I feel ________ because __________.

I sure was scared when _______ so I ___________.

I was embarrassed when ________ because I felt ______.

These activities can encourage an open communication of feelings and respect with the family.

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