Chances are you’ve heard the poignant statement “feelings are not facts”. On its face, it can seem dismissive, especially when the feelings in question are your own; however, learning this can be revolutionary to healthier relationships. It can be hard to discern whether we are responding to the situation at hand or being triggered. This can lead to an emotional spiral. In this state, there is little space for logical thinking and we let our feelings lead the way.

Most of the truths we hold self-evident and make other people answer for are projections of our own inner world. Therefore, when we go to express ourselves, it may be hard to truly get the other person to see things your way and if they do, they may feel the need to defend themselves against a preconceived notion you’ve concocted all on your own. It’s not a foundation for healthy and effective communication; however, some of us have spent so much time being unheard and/or having our needs unmet that we can already be in a habit of projecting that’s hard to break. 

We all have to start somewhere. 

So, if you find yourself in need of ways to decide whether the things you’re feeling are, in fact, feelings or if they’re just projections, there are a few things you can consider. Try out these methods before you decide it’s time for a knock out, drag down with your loved one. 

Allow the moment to settle. 

When we feel the need to immediately discuss an issue, chances are, we’re acting out of our current emotional state. Leaving some space in between when you feel the trigger and when you communicate your feelings, can give you a very important outlook on what the actual offense is. This is not an invitation to gaslight yourself into thinking that your feelings don’t matter but rather an opportunity to trim the fat and focus on the meat of the problem. 

Do not bring up other issues than the one at hand. 

Projections are easier to make when we start to bring in past disputes or things that we feel are behavioral patterns in a heightened moment. Staying on topic can help both parties arrive at a solution much faster and can keep your emotions from writing a narrative about the other person that may not be completely true. Words like “always” and “never” can create a divide in a relationship that doesn’t allow for resolution. 

Photo Credit: Keira Burton

Decide what you really need from the other person. 

Do you just want to blow off some steam? Are you wanting to be heard? Do you want to connect deeper? Are you feeling neglected? At the core of our emotional outbursts are usually very human desires. Pinpointing what’s underneath your anger or sadness or silence can be so instrumental to getting the support you need from the person you’re directing your emotions toward. 

Write down what you want to say. 

When we are upset, it can be hard to truly make sense of all the things we are feeling and properly sort through them to arrive at the core; therefore, writing can be very helpful. When we see our feelings written down, it can be easier to find the proper language to convey what we need and to decipher whether or not what we’re feeling is about ourselves or about the other person. 

Focus on ‘I’ statements. 

Hurt feelings can bring up a lot of need to have somewhere to assign blame. When we start to point fingers, all of the things we are feeling on the inside become the full responsibility of the other person; however, when we lead with ‘I’ statements—-“i feel”, “i think”, etc…—it can help us self-correct in the moment. Putting the full onus of the things we feel on our ourselves can really help to lessen projections and focus on the internal factors surrounding our current state of emotions. 

Lead with the facts. 

Though it can be tempting to let our feelings lead discussions, facts are always more efficient. When we allow facts to dictate the way the conversation will go, there is no limit to how many wrong turns can happen but we let the facts be in the driver’s seat, there is less room for error. Opt out of saying all the things you heart may be feeling and stick to the facts, clarity awaits.