There were two truths I had overlooked:
1. I can not control other people’s thoughts.
I could not make my kids think of certain things so that they would feel certain ways. Even if I cleared their paths so their lives were pretty drama-free, they still could choose thoughts that would cause them to feel difficult emotions.
Remember, the Thought Model — it’s their thoughts that create their feelings, not the things that happen in their lives.
2. Everyone faces adversity.
Thriving, confident young adults do not emerge from childhoods of having everything handed to them on silver platters and with no adversity. Look around at the people you admire.
They’ve had challenging experiences that they’ve moved through and learned from. Thriving confident adults develop from having difficult experiences in supportive homes where they learn from them.
So, how do we do this?
The good news is, once you learn how to process your emotions, you can teach your kids how to process theirs. The steps are the same, regardless of age.
Otherwise, if you’ve been listening for a while, you know that the thoughts we focus on, create the feelings we feel. What’s happening is that the thoughts we focus on releasing a chemical in our brain that creates the energy of basic emotions in our body.
Emotions are energy in motion and emotions are actually energy in your body. They can not be wished away. Once the energy is in your body, it needs to be processed.
What that means is if your child is upset, it does not help to say, “You shouldn’t be upset about that.” Or if they say they’re scared, it does not help to say, “That silly thing? You shouldn’t be scared.”
The energy from the emotion is already in their body and needs to be released.
How many times have you done this to yourself as an adult? Told yourself you “shouldn’t” be upset, disappointed, or nervous, even though you were?
News flash: it doesn’t work on us and it doesn’t work on them. Once you’ve focused on the thought that releases the energy of the emotion, the emotion must be processed. So, the million-dollar question is: How do we process our emotions?
“Emotional intelligence simply means managing your mental state for a positive result.” – David Atta
Processing an emotion and deepening your own emotional intelligence takes 3 steps.
1. Name it.
Feelings are one word. Say what you feel. Get a list started and hang it on the fridge.
2. Describe it.
Emotions are energy in your body. Where do you feel the feeling? What does sadness feel like? What does loneliness feel like?
I encourage my kids to explain the physical feeling of the emotion in detail as if they were explaining it to an alien who had never felt that emotion before. Where exactly do they feel it in their bodies? Is it hot? Cold? Tight? The more descriptive the better.
3. Sit with it.
Allow yourself to feel the emotion. The physical sensation of the feeling is not acutely painful. You are capable of feeling it though we are accustomed to resisting this step.
Sit and allow the energy to move through you. Emotions come in waves — they come and they go. Instead of explaining why you’re feeling what you’re feeling, judging it, or resisting it, sit with it. Experience it.
I like to put my hand on my heart when I’m feeling a more difficult emotion and lift my hands to the sky when I’m feeling a joyous experience.
This is the beauty of being human. We are here to feel our emotions. Feel your life. Live your experience.