Getting to Know Your Feelings, a users guide.

Mar 09, 2021

Let me start by acknowledging that our society as a whole, has a complete aversion to negative feelings.  For most people, the goal is happiness… 100% of the time.  And if they’re not happy, something is wrong and they are trying to fix it.

Does this sound about right?

The reason why I start here is that I want to challenge the idea that you are supposed to be happy all the time.  Life is not supposed to be sunshine and unicorns all the time.  If you don’t have rain, you can’t have rainbows.

Life is about the contrast and the full human experience.  If you were never sad, you wouldn’t fully experience happiness.  If you didn’t experience failure, the final win wouldn’t be as gratifying.

This is a really important concept to understand as a parent.  We always want things to go well for our children.  We want for them to be happy, and experience wins in life.  But when they don’t, when they are sad, worried, or anxious, we tend to want to “fix” it so that they will feel better.

With me, it started early when I told my kids they would get a lollipop at the doctor's office after a shot.  Or when we’d stop and get ice cream after their team lost the game.  We teach our kids that it’s not okay to be scared or sad, and that something outside of them will make them feel better.

Logically, it would seem that we are doing the right thing.  We are trying to help our children feel better.  

But as parents, we also want to be aware of how we are showing up and the message that we are sending.  If you find that YOU are uncomfortable when your child experiences negative emotions, you may be unconsciously sending the message to your child that if they feel sad it makes you feel sad… and then they start monitoring what they share or take responsibility for how you feel.

A lot to think about, right?

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