Often, the answer is far less critical than understanding what drives the question.
This idea was raised at a recent yoga retreat, and I began to reflect on better understanding what prompts my own questions, as well as what may be lurking behind those asked by others.
In my life, I’ve often wondered how others feel towards me, how important and meaningful I am to them. It seems understandable to question if feelings are reciprocal - driven as much by a desire for validation (pleasure) as to insulate against rejection (pain). I am certain I am not alone in this quest. This desire to feel cherished, to feel valued, to remain relevant causes us to entrust our emotions and our perceived value to others.
But herein lay a dilemma. In any relationship, should we seek to find true parity in feelings, with the understanding that individuals are just that - individuals. Each of us is unique in formulating perceptions and developing emotions based on a lifetime of very personal, very intimate, and very unique experiences. Should we embrace our feelings as ours alone without regard, or modulate our emotions in reaction to those of others? Is it possible to consciously and effectively do either one - do we possess such self-awareness and an ability to control our emotions or are we mistaking control for suppression? Perhaps the difference seems overly nuanced, but then again, context is everything.
In terms of emotional capital, relationships rarely prove a sound investment strategy. We do not hedge against emotional uncertainty and loss. We speculate on a long-term upside - throwing caution (and often experience) into the wind.
Despite the best intent, effort, and understandings, relationships are forged by relinquishing control - and the human courage it takes to do so, is enormous. Perhaps there is nothing we fear more than consigning our emotional fate to others. And yet we do, time and time again. We seek this deep connection, we cling to fragments of hope. We grow love from a single bud into a field of flowers in full summer bloom, forgetting that seasons change. Has experience not taught us anything, or simply made us more resilient and optimistic over time?
There are people I’ve loved deeply, and are no longer a part of my life. I can question the integrity of those past feelings, but I know they were genuine and true. They manifest for a version of “me” from the past, an earlier version of myself that also made some questionable choices in fashion, music and hair styles.
Life is dynamic, and the nature of a relationships change as we experience them, experience others, and experience ourselves. When I reflect on what drives me to ask “how do you feel about me?” I am now forced to contemplate what it is I am trying to reconcile within me, what latent need or fear is driving this need to uncover this mystery. I’ve started to discover so much more about myself, learning to embrace how I feel towards myself that wondering how the other person feels suddenly becomes wholly irrelevant.
WIth gratitude to Rony Stav and Emily Shein from YTTP