Wouldn't it be great if we could just feel the good feelings? If
we could bypass what makes us feel disappointed, sad or
uncomfortable? It would be great to just feel love or joy, but
feelings are a full-package deal. You either feel them all, or it's
difficult to feel anything at all. That doesn't mean you have to
suffer when challenging feelings arise. You can acknowledge worry
or anger without becoming worried and angry. They're just feelings;
they don't have to become ways of being.
Too often we feel something and push it away in fear of being
too angry or too "weak." But denying feelings only represses
them-it shoves them down and turns them into something else like
anxiety, impatience or judgment.
Emotions aren't the problem; it's our inability to feel our
emotions that gets us in trouble. If we could just let a feeling
come up, to allow for tears or admit and address something that
makes us angry, we wouldn't waste our energy pretending that things
don't bother us.
Humans naturally have an array of emotional experiences, but if
we choose to distract ourselves and not feel them, it's called
numbing. Numbing comes in many forms: alcohol, food, drugs,
shopping, technology, and the most socially acceptable form,
Too often we stay perpetually busy so we don't have to deal with
how we feel. We stay focused on anything but what's going on
Kids know how to have a good cry, or stomp around and get their
anger out, and they know how to express disapproval or call out
something that seems unjust.
But what do we do? We tell them to stop it, we tell them they
are being manipulative, we tell them they are too dramatic, we tell
them they are too sensitive.
We teach them their emotions aren't valuable. We teach them to
numb out and pretend.
What if we felt our feelings instead? Then we could teach our
kids to do the same. We could share tools to appropriately discuss
and release what they feel, and teach them to honor feelings rather
push them away.
We could teach them that emotions are normal, an essential part
of being human, and regardless if it's a good or not-so-good
feeling, they have our permission to feel it.
Cathy Adams is a certified parenting coach, yoga instructor and mother to three girls.
See more of Cathy's stories here.
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