Let’s start off with a look at a child’s emotions as well as a Swedish saying I love: "Our children will ask for love in the most unloving of ways."
When little people’s feelings get really big, sometimes they don’t know how to let us know, ask for help, or how to handle them alone. They can come out as big storms of emotion that seem to test our very moral fibers. (ex: "I know I love my child but man, right now, I don’t like him very much"). We can do a couple things with this child …
Now, some of you may have different ideas on styles of parenting and may disagree with my option - that’s ok. I would just like to add that my training comes from looking at a child’s neurobiology. If you would like to read about this wonderful way of looking at parenting, please check out the great author and researcher Dr. Dan Siegel.
On to our bigger topic. I have had adults come to me and say that sometimes they feel like that child with really big feelings "… but why? I’m an adult? I should be able to manage my own feelings and cope with them in a more positive and productive way!”
My first question is: “What do you do when you feel whatever emotional storm is brewing for you?” Many times I hear answers close to, “Well, I can’t just break down. I have work, kids, and a life.” So basically, you are telling the hurt/scared/frustrated/etc. child in you, “Hey look, I know you are giving me the big puppy eyes full of tears, but I just don’t have time to care for your hurt right now.” Would you say that to a child? Would you ask them to hold all of that in until it’s convenient for you? I hope not!
Our emotions happen when they happen. This is where someone inserts a great big “DUH” - but it’s true! We seem to think we have some control and we can just push it off until it’s convenient for us to “deal” with it. Let me ask you … is it ever convenient? Or is that just an easy way for us to not have to truly sit with our storms and attend to them?
When we are talking about a child’s emotional storm, here’s how I would address it. Sit beside them (not in front of them), have some kind of appropriate safe touch to remind them that someone cares about them, and let them talk through it, let them cry through it, let the storm rage on (Frozen song inserted here) as long as everyone is able to be safe and cared for. Let them see that it doesn’t have to be lonely, scary, or shameful to process your emotions. Be there with them.
Now I challenge you to do the same for yourself. Honor your emotional storm. Get somewhere comfortable where you will not be ashamed of letting out whatever needs to be released. Keep yourself safe. Remind yourself that you are loved and you don’t have to do this alone. Attend to the strong emotions that are asking for your love and attention. They are child-like because they want to be heard. They want to know that they too are important.
I always suggest that you have someone to companion you through your emotional storms. Have someone that will sit beside you and hold your hand or touch your arm in reassurance. Have someone that is not afraid to weather the storm with you. Ask them to be with you and not try to “fix” you. You don’t need fixing. You need to be true to what’s going on for you.
I know it’s not always possible to have someone with us during these times, so if that’s the case, I ask that you be that supportive person for yourself. Don’t judge yourself or criticize the time and energy it takes - just as you wouldn’t do that to a child. Do your best to fill your body with love and acceptance.
I will say, this is much easier said than done - as is parenting. We will never be perfect, but we can do our best every time. Every time we strive to fill ourselves with compassion and understanding, it becomes more of a (healthy) habit and will soon be something we look forward to recieving from ourselves. Practice makes progress (not perfect)!
Remember: These storms are here for a reason. They may not leave easily, but the more we attend to them with kindness and compassion, the less they want to remind us of their fury.
Hey there and happy 2019 everyone! I felt as though we saw the world struggle quite a bit in 2018, though I'm constantly optimistic of the wonderful things that are yet to come in this brand new calendar year. I believe we can all learn from our mistakes (as individuals and a society) to help create a happier, healthier, and more compassionate world.
I like to believe that we are all doing the best we can with what we have, but we can always learn more to do better. This is what I like to think of as a trauma-informed view of the world. This thought processes and others I have adopted from my trauma-informed education help me to approach people, situations, and challenges with compassion and wonder vs. frustration and judgement. I have been fortunate enough over my many years of education to have teachers and mentors that have opened my eyes, expanded my mind, and have helped me transform the way I look at and interact with the world.
Now with all of that "hippee-dippee" stuff (as some would call it) out there, I want to let some of you skeptics know that the information I will be sharing is based in research done in behavioral health and neuropsychology. There are a lot of "feel good" techniques that can be used, but I like knowing the science behind why it works and how it helps our bodies and minds.
The Journey Guide is not a "how-to" book or a "what's next" adventure guide. These monthly posts will mostly focus on topics in the areas of grief and trauma - (hopefully helpful) tips and tricks about many different aspects of some of life's toughest journeys. This is just a blog from a mental health professional looking to share all of the wonderful things I have learned in my education and my wonderful experiences - hoping to spread some education, hope, and inspiration as I go!
My goal is to help you think differently about these topics, gain a better understanding (if they are new to you), and help build a more compassionate base as you work with yourself and/or companion others on these, or other, tough journeys.
Join me each month as we talk about the "tough stuff" so we can create a better world for each one of us! The world needs the helpers to continue to step up and spread the love | joy | comfort | acceptance | community + so much more.