It’s generally accepted that women have a greater capacity to connect by feeling. I think it starts with the hormones managing our bodies and the systems therein; ebbing and flowing with monthly cycles and childbearing. Those chemicals cause emotions and sensations that are unique to us and our biology. From our youth, we learn to recognize cues and are sensitive to what those cues are signaling. We learn to listen early on.
Then, we add in the emotions and cues of those around us and how we interpret them; how they overlap with our own. In their purest form, these basic communications have kept humankind alive through the centuries. Now, however, we have substances that throw them out of whack, social cues and expectations that complicate the feelings and thoughts we listen so closely to. Things have become confusing and convoluted as we have evolved.
However, even in this gradual distortion over time, I feel that women have also learned to evolve and adapt to the changes. We still listen closely. We still feel as much as we see. One personal example of this is the experience I’ve been having with my son. Last year, at nine years old, he was diagnosed with General Anxiety Disorder and this year with ADHD. Feelings have been big, actions have been bigger, and the growth of knowledge and understanding we’ve gained has been the biggest.
The first lesson I learned in this experience is that our feelings are our own and unique to us. This means that all feelings are real to the person feeling them. It sounds painfully simple, but let me explain.
My son would be playing with his siblings and the smallest things would set him off to fits of rage. When I would try to dilute the situation, his rage would elevate and he would direct all the big feelings to me personally. Mean things would be said and I would take offense. After therapy sessions for him and for me, we learned that my attempts to dilute and diffuse were interpreted by him as his feelings being disregarded. In my mind the situation was simple and his feelings disproportionate. However, that wasn’t fair because his feelings were his to feel and not mine to judge. Yes, his brain chemistry wasn’t responding appropriately but that didn’t mean the feelings weren’t there. We have now learned (and are still working on) the conversations that help him feel seen first, then to give some time for the mind to calm down before working through the issues. Nine times out of ten, he returns from his calm-down time with an apology for his overreaction. In the moment he is blinded by his feelings, but in hindsight he sees clearly. Can we not all relate?!
Once we are able to allow people room to feel their feelings, we need to also see through them to the person underneath. My son is not a rageful delinquent with behavior management issues. That is not his identity any more than we as women are volatile humans with those same issues when we are premenstrual! Just because chemicals are causing issues, does not mean we are those issues. I think we forget this too frequently. When we see someone on social media who posts negativity and offensiveness, we can look past that and see someone with hidden hurts or situations we don’t understand. While seeing people through emotions is more easily said than done, I know wholeheartedly that it is a skill we must develop in order to love our neighbor as we’ve been commanded.
We, as women, have been gifted the ability to feel and identify feelings on a level designed by God. This gift is one that, when applied intentionally, can diffuse tension, lift confidences, nurture the brokenhearted, and bond the broken. I am grateful to be a woman.
Lead Photo credit: Priscilla du Preez via Unsplash
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