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Expressing Emotions vs. Handling Emotions

This is an issue that comes up very often in my everyday life when I squabble with someone and I'd like to know what you wonderful people think about it.

I'm a very emotional person, and most of my life I've been ashamed of it. Lately, after getting more into feminism, I've approached it from a different standpoint - the standpoint that my feelings are valid and not just an embarrassing thing I need to hide. I've become more vocal about my right to express my feelings and have them recognized as valid. In turn, so have the people around me - which often, due to the fact that we care about each others' feelings, turns into a kind of Mexican standoff. It goes something like this (situation made up):

Person A: What you did really upset me.
Person B: Well now I'm upset because you're scolding me over it.
Person A: It upsets me that when I express my emotion you make it about your emotions instead of the thing that upset me.
Person B: Well it upsets me that I can't express that I'm upset that you're scolding me.


The argument turns into both people being upset and feeling like because they are upset the other person should apologize, since their feelings are valid. Then the other person gets more upset that expressing their emotions causes an emotional reaction in the other person, and no one feels like their feelings are being addressed. In my experience there are only two ways to solve this issue: walk away from it, or one person has to give in on expressing what's upsetting them about the other person's emotions and address the emotions themselves. Then that person ends up feeling like they "lost" because they had to tamp down what they were actually feeling.

The question is, where's the line? When someone expresses a negative emotion that stems from something you did, it's normal to feel hurt and upset for a myriad of reasons. Should you have the same right as the person telling you they're upset that them telling you about it upsets you? Or is that inappropriate, and instead the proper reaction is to not discuss how it makes you feel, but the feelings expressed? If it's appropriate to express your own hurt emotions, is it appropriate for the first person to react in the same way - it's a hurtful accusation to say "you expressing that I make you feel negatively hurts my feelings", so is it appropriate to tell them that?


At what point do you think it's time to focus on someone else's feelings, even if the feelings they're expressing hurt you? Is there never a point? Is it that initial expression of emotion? Somewhere in between?

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