You shouldn’t feel that way. Don’t feel that way. Your feelings don’t matter. Your feelings are wrong. I’ll tell you how to feel. Just stop feeling.
Sounds harsh, right?
How about this?...
Don’t be scared. Stop crying. You’re fine. Don’t be mad. Stop making a big deal out of nothing. Get over it. Let it go.
Yikes! I know I have uttered some of those statements. But, no matter how it is said, the message is the same…whatever you are feeling right now, don’t. That is a powerful lesson for them to be learning, one that will impact them forever.
We love them. We are not heartless. We are not cruel. Sometimes we are just trying to comfort them. “Sweetheart, don’t cry.”
Sometimes we don’t know how to handle it.
Sometimes we don’t want to handle it.
So, we shut it down.
Bad feelings are uncomfortable for everyone.
Also, we see things from our perspective, not theirs. There have been times when I assumed something about a feeling or reaction my kids were having and when I talked to them about it, really dug in, I learned I was way off. Often, they weren’t even aware of the actual cause of their feelings and reaction.
So, dive into the feelings with them.
I missed an important step when I put this information together, though.
Let them know that it is ok to feel whatever they are feeling.
Oh, if only we could all stop shying away from the bad feelings.
Validating their feelings doesn’t mean you agree with them. It doesn’t mean you are indulging them. It doesn’t mean you are coddling them. It is not turning them into babies or spoiled brats.
It is teaching them that feelings are essential. It confirms that their feelings are delivering a message that they should check out.
Are they often afraid? There’s something there that needs to be addressed.
Are they often stressed? There’s something there that needs to be addressed.
Are they often angry? There’s something there that needs to be addressed.
Are they often crying?...
Are they often anxious?...
Teaching them, intentionally or not, not to feel those emotions is like slapping a band-aid on a gaping wound and hoping it will get better under there. But you need to close that wound up for it to heal.
When we shut down or repress our feelings, they do not go away; they stay hidden, under the surface, and affect everything.
Alternatively, when we acknowledge our feelings and get to the root cause, we can face whatever it is head-on and move forward, having dealt with the problem.
The best way over a feeling is through it.
That starts with validating it.
“You have every right to feel the way you feel.” “I get why you would feel that way.” “I can see why that would bother you.” "Your feeling is telling you something important, let's figure it out."
By validating their feeling, you are empowering them.
You give them permission to feel their feeling and figure out what it's trying to tell them.
You are letting them deal with it now instead of later.
You are also helping them build their emotional intelligence. The more aware of their feelings they become, the better able they are to express them; the better their understanding of the messages they are trying to convey; the better equipped they become to handle them.
As always, my words are meant for you too. Validate your feelings. Please don’t ignore them. Figure out what they are trying to tell you.
Deal with it now, so it doesn’t stay with you forever.
Until next time…