Processing feelings in a healthy way is something that can be taught by a parent.
And the first step is understanding how to process feelings yourself.
A lot of times as parents we don't feel comfortable feeling uncomfortable in front of our kids.
We try not to cry in front of them because we don't want to upset them.
We don't want them to worry or take responsibility.
We don't want them to take on a role of trying to parent and comfort us.
We don't want them to blame themselves.
We don't want them to blame the person who we are feeling upset at, like a spouse.
And these are all very valid and worthy goals.
But often we silently pretend we don't have some of these deep feelings
And lose an opportunity to demonstrate how to be a human with real feelings and process them while living life.
Our kids need to know how to do that.
It is one of the most valuable things we can teach them to do.
When we are processing feelings in a healthy way we are
Leaning into them without resisting, distracting, or reacting.
Noticing how they show up in the body.
Recognizing what they make us want to do in that moment.
Remembering that feelings are just vibrations in the body from a thought in the mind.
Remembering that feelings are normal.
Saving space to have them and own them instead of blame them on anyone else.
When we believe these things, feeling them in front of our kids may look and sound something like this:
"Kids, I'm feeling a little sad because of something I am choosing to think about what happened just now.
It feels kind of like an ache in my belly and my eyes sting and that's okay.
I'm probably going to be a little quieter than usual as I cook dinner because I'm thinking a lot and feeling a lot
But I want you to know that this isn't your fault and you don't have to fix it.
Feeling things is okay."
When a child is feeling something big it may sound like,
"How are you feeling right now? Where do you feel that in your body? Do you want me to sit with you while you are feeling this? You don't need to feel this alone."
Or a teenager who doesn't really want to talk about feelings...
"When that happens to me I usually feel anxious. When I'm anxious it feels like I'm shaking all over inside and my stomach feels like it has a bowling ball in it. Where does anxiety show up for you?"
Whatever the conversations looks like in a home like yours, working from the thoughts of:
Feelings can't harm us.
Feeling is part of life.
Uncomfortable feelings are okay.
I don't have to fix their feelings.
Help us show up authentically allowing feelings to be part of the experience
And show, through example, how to process feelings
Something they will have as a human
In a healthy way.
Learning to process feelings without blaming, resisting, distracting, or reacting is a skill that can be learned. Each time you feel angry or frustrated is another chance to practice and grow this skill.
Show your children a new way to truly feel
One that IS NOT TAUGHT in our everyday culture
Learning to process feelings in a healthy way is something you can do for yourself
That gives to everyone around you.
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