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I Don’t Agree

We can all have disagreements and differences of opinions over anything. Anything except one thing.

If someone is trying to tell us something about their feelings, which is always going to be an important thing for them if they’re taking the time to tell us, then (particularly if we have asked them to tell us how they’re feeling) we must put our own feelings and interpretations aside, check our understanding, clarify what they mean and ask for more information until we know, through their response to us, that we have come as close as possible to fully understanding them from their perspective.

We can’t disagree with someone about something they are telling us they feel. We can, however, not understand them or not comprehend their feelings, and/or feel (perhaps very) differently about it. But we can’t disagree with them about their feelings.

If we do find ourselves disagreeing with someone about their feelings (which we all know is something only they can know about) in reality we are placing our assumptions, our judgements, and our faith in our own intellect above their own knowledge of their own heart, mind and body. We’re assuming our brain knows better than they do about what they feel.

We must realise that our interpretation of their words about their feelings is never going to come close to understanding how they really feel.

Don’t tell them you disagree with the words they’re trying to use to tell you about their feelings, either. If you don’t understand them ask them to tell you more about how they feel, or in different ways or to give you examples to help you understand.

We do of course all have different feelings about all kinds of things.

I or we can feel happy about a thing or a situation, and you or they can feel sad about that same situation. And others can hold other feelings about it too. But none of us get to hold our own opinion about how someone else does or should feel about a thing or a situation. No matter how strongly we feel differently from them about that same thing.

We can feel and communicate our own feelings. And we can seek to understand the feelings of others on their terms. And we have to believe them, even if what they tell us they are feeling seems unlikely to us.

We can disagree about anything, including how we each feel about a thing or a situation. But we can’t disagree with someone about how they feel about a thing or situation, even if we feel (extremely) differently about the same thing/situation.

The only thing we don’t get to have an opinion on is someone else’s feelings.

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