Now More Than Ever, We Need to Empty Our Emotional Jugs
The past two years of the pandemic have flooded many of us with more feelings than we have capacity for, which has led to a lot of feelings spilling out. We have all experienced the spillage of those emotions. Maybe our fuses feel shorter, or we are crying more, or maybe we are drinking more or sleeping too much. Emptying the emotional jug is an exercise that partners or loved ones can do together that provides a number of different benefits. The first benefit is that it provides the “speaker” an emotional release, making it less likely that their emotions will spill out as unproductive behaviors or be misdirected. When we empty some of those emotions, we also create more space inside, increasing our capacity. Another benefit is that vulnerably expressing emotions, and having them met with empathy, leads to an increased sense of intimacy and closeness. When we share our feelings with others,we feel closer to each other. The benefits that come from closeness are innumerable, but include a better sex life, improved health outcomes, reduced stress, and an overall sense of wellbeing.
The focus of the emptying the emotional jug exercise is to increase partners’ ability to communicate with each other about emotions, as well as to foster the feeling of closeness that comes from the vulnerability of honestly communicating feelings. Set the environment for this exercise by sitting or lying close to each other, holding hands, or touching, and looking in each other’s eyes. Make sure that the setting is quiet and without distractions. Each partner will get the turn to be a speaker and a listener. The speaker should try to be as honest and introspective as possible. The benefits reaped from this exercise are commensurate with the level of investment in it. The listener’s job is just to listen and be present. The listener should not ask follow-up questions during this exercise, beyond those that are scripted, or try to make the speaker feel “better.” Again, the listener’s job is just to listen and be present!
Go through all the questions with one person being the speaker and the other the listener, and then reverse roles. You’ll discuss what you are mad, sad, scared, and glad about.
Listener Asks: Tell me what you are mad about? Speaker answers.
Listener Asks: What else are you mad about? Speaker answers.
Listener repeats this question until Speaker answers that they are not mad about anything else.
Listener Asks: If you were mad about anything else, what would it be? Speaker answers.
Listener Asks: Tell me what you are sad about? (Repeat as above)
Listener Asks: Tell me what you are scared about? (Repeat as above)
Listener Asks: Tell me what you are glad about? (Repeat as above)
Asking these four simple questions, vulnerably sharing your emotions, and listening with empathy can provide a tremendous amount of relief and closeness. Give it a try and reap the benefits!
If you’re looking to further connect with your partner, CFR’s Relationship Checkup provides a comprehensive assessment of relationship strengths and vulnerabilities and teaches vital skills for achieving and maintaining a healthy relationship. Our 3-session package is based on solid research and has been shown to significantly improve a couple’s relationship.
Register before February 28, 2022 and enjoy a special rate for 3 sessions with one of our graduate-level interns.
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