Learning to Come from the Gut

One of the hardest lessons I have ever had to learn was to become conscious of my "gut feelings". I used to be a master of pushing down my feelings and being unconsious of what I was really feeling.

I seemed to be operating from the principle of, "If I ignore what I am feeling, maybe it will go away."

Well, I've reached a point in my life where I am no longer capable of ignoring my feelings and sometimes they can make me completely miserable. The trick in making your feelings work for you instead of eating you up inside is dependent on knowing who you are and what is important to you -- and then not ignoring what you feel.

One of the main things that I have learned about myself is that I value being respected. The other side of that coin is that I can't and won't tolerate being treated with disrespect. I refuse to allow the people in my life to treat me as anything less than a human being. If someone that I know does treat me with a lack of respect and I don't do anything about it, that is when I feel miserable.

I know full well that I am not perfect and that I am fully as capable of making mistakes and screwing things up as well as any human being. But I insist on being treated with respect in spite of anything that I have done, simply because I usually don't mess up on purpose.

If my intention is love and healing and not hate and destruction, and I do my best, nobody has the right to treat me with sarcasm and put me down or try to push me around. I, at the very least want to be treated with ordinary courtesy.

Lately, my wife has taken to forgetting to deal with me with the same rules that she automatically applies to complete strangers. When she wants me to do something for her, she makes it in the form of a command instead of a request. "Please", "Thank you", and "Would you do me a favor?" have been sorely missing lately.

"You're falling asleep. Get up and go to bed!"

"Take off your hat"

"Stop putting these things in the drawer. Throw them in the trash."

The unexpected commands were making me angry, but I waited until I had a good night's sleep before I said anything. Sometimes, my feelings are caused by not enough sleep or dehydration or fatigue. But when I woke up this morning, I was madder than the day before and I knew that I had to act. When I got back from the gym, I went into her and said:

"I am extremely upset with you right now about the way that you have been treating me. I feel as though you don't respect me enough to give me common courtesy and it has made me extremely angry".

She was startled and asked me what she had done. I told her how it felt to be sleeping in my recliner and rudely awakened by her command to go to bed.

She immediately began defending herself by trying to explain.

I exploded: "NO! I'm not listening to your explanations when I'm telling you how I feel. I'm walking away!"

I went upstairs to change out of my gym clothes.

It took her about five minutes, but she came up, sat down and said, "Okay. Now I'm ready to listen".

So I reeled off three or four examples of what she had been doing lately and how angry I was. It took awhile, but she listened very well and then apologized. We had a very good day today.

No, she didn't even slow down as to the number of things she wanted me to do, but she treated me with kindness and respect throughout the day.

©2008, Irv Engel

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One's life has value so long as one attributes values to the life of others, by means of love, friendship, indignation and compassion., - Simone de Beauvoir

Irv Engel is a successful salesman, builder, husband, father, grandfather and friend. He loves to sing, dance and is currently taking an art class to learn water color painting. He is the creator and coordinator of the Relationship Training Course for Men. This book, The Real Deal: A Guide to Achieving Successful and Real Relationships, is the result of hundreds of hours spent writing down the lessons learned in a lifetime of marriage, divorce, re-marriage and raising four kids. He hosts free telephone conference coaching sessions in the evening or on weekends.The conference is a good way to find out about relationship coaching and to ask any personal questions around your own relationships without risk to your money or your privacy. E-mail him for phone number, access code and schedule. Irv and Monica live in Lake Forest, Calif. They have eleven grandchildren. They have celebrated their thirty-fifth wedding anniversary.

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