At some point in our parenting journey, we had to come to terms with experiencing diverse feelings and emotions. Not only with our children but also ourselves and that of people around us. Somewhere along the lines of parenthood, we made a secret promise to hold the fort to strictly govern the big feelings. Whether that decision was based on social preferences or generational raising techniques, we all want a happy emotionally-stable family unit.
I am here to debunk the myth of finding perfection when it comes to emotions and feelings. Starting with the Egyptian expression: “Not all your fingers are alike”; meaning that our 5 fingers in one hand have different sizes, shape and orientation and all of them are unique. Same for our experiences. Every day, every memory, every event brings on a unique experience that our body processes differently. In other words, I am saying we can’t be feeling happy all the time. Where is the fun in that!
According to Brene Brown, human beings have 87 emotions that shapes our lives. I am a big believer that we shouldn’t label emotions as ‘good’ and ‘bad”. All emotions are valid. Emotions are the body’s compass that directs it to take action and behave in a certain way. The difference between emotions and feelings, according to Psychology Today is, “Emotions originate as sensations in the body. Feelings are influenced by our emotions but are generated from our mental thoughts.”
Personally, emotions for me are like having a numb limb. When the blood starts flowing back into them, you feel some discomfort. Those pins and needles are worth the pain as they indicate that there is a need of some sort. They are our indicators guiding us to make a conscious change towards a situation that brought that feeling in the first place.
That same concept of numbness applies to big emotions – like grief, anxiety, sadness - the pins and needles are still guiding you to take action. And not all actions and behaviors after experiencing big emotions are acceptable. The discomfort is what will get you to soul-search, adapt, inquire and potentially shapeshift.
Lysa TerKeurst very wisely wrote that, “Feelings are indicators, not dictators. They can indicate where your heart is in the moment, but that doesn't mean they have the right to dictate your behavior and boss you around. You are more than the sum total of your feelings and perfectly capable of that little gift . . . called self-control.”
Back to parenthood, when you manage to embrace your own emotions, you will be teaching your child to do the same. Children need to learn that all emotions are ok. They need you to help them understand and label those emotions. They also need you to help them regulate their nervous system when they are feeling like their world is falling apart. They need you to hold space for them while they express their deepest most shameful emotions, without judging. You won’t be only holding the fort for reasons outside yourself, you will be weaving the fabric for a more emotionally intelligent and resilient generation.
A kind reminder: You are doing your best at raising emotionally intelligent young souls. Keep the beautiful work up!
Lots of love,
Here is a tool that I love using in my coaching sessions that helps the children tell their stories using emotional vocabulary.