Sometimes life sucks. People are mean, Teachers make dumb mistakes, Bosses are blind, and our family pushes our buttons. When you or your kids are feeling down in the dumps, it’s important to give yourself permission to feel it. Take a break from blaming & complaining and LABEL THE FEELING: mad, sad, embarrassed, frustrated, disappointed, scared. Finding & labeling the AUTHENTIC EMOTION is powerful. It honors you and your feelings. Worry, stress, anxiety are not emotions, they are a mental distraction that only create more worry, stress and anxiety.
Naming an emotion contains it. Suddenly, what used to feel overwhelming, now feels manageable. You’ve felt disappointed before, you can handle it. So you feel ashamed? That’s ok, we all do from time to time.
This is a hard thing to give our kids. We don’t like to see them sad, mad, scared or ashamed. We want to kiss their boo-boo’s and make it better quickly so we don’t have to see our child suffer. But when we first tell them to “look on the bright side” “don’t feel that way” or “it’s no big deal”, we unknowingly teach them that there is something wrong with them, that the way they feel is flawed. We do the same thing to ourselves when we deny our own emotions. “I should be happier” “I need to just suck it up and get over it.” “Why can’t I just……be different than I am?”
Naming and owning an emotion doesn’t take long. In fact, Scientists have timed it. If we fully allow ourselves to experience an emotion, it lasts about 90 seconds. Kids are usually better than adults at staying with the feeling, crying, hitting, stomping, and then they’re over it. Sometimes it’s all you need. But if you’re a Mom like me who can’t help but help, you can ask my most favorite question, “What do you know to be true about you?”
DD -“Ella was so mean to me at school today. She said I was stupid and fat.”
Mom – “You feel mad.”
DD – “Yeah. It makes me mad when she’s mean to me. Why can’t she just be nice?”
Mom – SILENT SITTING (no talking, just let her have her emotion, let her stay frustrated for 90 seconds.)
Mom – “What do YOU know to be true about you?”
Somehow when we ask for TRUTH, it raises the bar: “I know I’m overweight, but I’m also a good friend.” or “I say dumb things sometimes but I’m not a dumb person.” or “Whenever I’m with Ella I feel worse about myself.”
If your child’s response is “The truth is I’m a loser and nobody likes me”, start over at step one, naming the feeling, “You feel sad.”
Model it for your kids by trying it for yourself.
1- Find something or someone that is bugging you.
2- Name your authentic emotion: (mad, sad, scared, ashamed, etc.)
3- Bathe in it. Picture yourself sinking into a bathtub of your emotion. Let yourself soak in it for 90 seconds. Say to yourself, “I feel scared, and that’s ok. I allow myself to feel my feelings.” Notice how it feels in your body and where you feel it.” BREATHE! It is super important to keep your breathing slow and deliberate. If you start to think, talk, blame, argue, bring your attention back into your body and your breath.
4- After 90 seconds is passed and you are feeling calmer, ask yourself, “What do I know to be true about me?” and see what answers arise.
5- Congratulate yourself on being authentic. Celebrate your awesomeness. (I know you want to avoid this step but your kids are your motivation.) You want them to have a positive self image so show ’em how it’s done!