That may be one of the most frequently used questions in therapy. As an attachment focused therapist, there are many reasons why I ask this question so often! I wanted to explore all that is in this question for me.
We are biologically driven to be in relationship with other people and thru healthy connection with others, we achieve emotional balance and regulation. This is a key developmental task for very young children. Our children learn about their emotions by experiencing their emotions with us. Think back to your childhood - how did your parents respond to your anger? Your joy?
Emotions are triggered most strongly by relationship issues and navigating emotions in relationship with another person is the quickest way back to an emotional balance. We have all had emotions we would rather not experience as they are not pleasant. Also, many of us had caregivers that didn't know how to handle certain feelings as a child and we learned that by denying or blocking these feelings we could more safely be in relationship with our caregiver. It makes complete sense then we block or deny those feelings currently.
When I ask, "How does that make you feel?", I am inviting my clients to slow down and engage with that emotion fully. This can be scary, overwhelming or even just feel foreign as we have never spent time feeling that feeling. We achieve balance by engaging fully with our emotions which happens most naturally with another person. In therapy, we add structure to this experience by identifying the elements of an emotion: the trigger, initial perception, bodily felt sense, meaning assignation, and action tendency or motivational urge (Arnold, 1960).
We are designed to be in relationship with other people and how we understand our emotions can make relationships easier or harder. Emotional safety in my therapy sessions is essential and through our relationship we can begin to explore new and difficult emotions together.