Mama, I’m scared” – said my 5 year old during bedtime last night.
The lights were off, it was dark and he says he always feels scared when it’s dark.
This is a new development for him.
My first reaction was to fix it right away, make him feel better, convince him there’s nothing to be scared of.
My child feels scared ! Oh no! Something is wrong and I want to fix it!
But, wait a minute. Nothing is in fact wrong here.
What’s wrong with feeling scared?
Instead of doing any of the above I simply said, you are scared and it’s okay. If after I leave you feel scared, you can repeat this to yourself ‘ I am scared and that’s okay.
After all I want to teach my son that FEELINGS are for FEELING and not for FIXING.
What a relief for me as a parent. Nothing has gone wrong here.
I don’t to have to change how he’s feeling.
In fact, I can use this as a chance to teach him and remind myself that we don’t need to be fixing our feelings all the time.
We should not be afraid to just feel them.
This especially applies to negative feelings.
We somehow got this incorrect idea that we should be happy all of the time.
If we are upset, angry, disappointed, outraged, we must be doing something wrong.
But what I want to suggest is that we allow for that contrast in our life in order to feel the good/happy moments AS the happy moments.
Without the contrast we wouldn’t feel the happiness.
I know this is obvious but we often forget that when we argue with our negative emotions.
When tragedy strikes, someone dies or is harmed – how do we want to feel about that? We don’t want to feel happy about that.
In fact, we DO want to feel sad or upset about that.
That is the contrasting, negative emotion of our life.
We need to allow it to be there without trying to change it.
When we resist our negative emotions we feel even worse.
I’ve recently started practicing this trick which helps a lot.
Whenever I feel anything negative I name that feeling to myself.
If I feel irritable, I say to myself: “I am irritable”.
This forces me to first become aware of what I’m feeling. Second, by naming the feeling I stop RESISTING it which feels so much better than resisting being irritable.
Talk about making it worse!
Try being not irritable when you are irritable!
Boom, Mama looses her sh*t!
So, you can do the same with any emotion: pain, disappointment, shame, discouragement, etc.
You name it, and repeat it to yourself without any judgement.
It relieves any resistance towards it and helps you to process it, which ultimately makes that negative feeling leave much sooner than if you resist it.
If you are having trouble naming your emotion, another way of handling it is by trying to locate it in your body and describing how it feels – chest tight, stomach, hot…
Bringing your attention to it lessens it’s effect.
It’s like a crying child asking for your attention .
As soon as you acknowledge him/her, the child is less upset.
They know they’ve been heard. Same with your emotions!
Take care of yourselves my friends!