“Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.”
Children were followed from preschool to early adolescence. During preschool, the mothers were rated in how they manage difficult feelings. During the fourth grade, the kids were rated in this area well. Both mother and child’s tendency to internalize feelings led to more emotional eating (for the child) during adolescence.
Life is full of positive and negative experiences that bring about both positive and negative feelings. Many of us learned early on that crying and acting out –natural reactions to messy feelings — are not acceptable. But when those feelings get trapped inside we can spend a lifetime trying to keep them covered up with something — tasty food, material things, achievement, you name it.
There is an alternative and that is to accept the feelings, and get curious about them. Sometimes difficult feelings are trying to tell us something important, like we need to make a change or try something new. Or for some of us, they may be decade-old wounds still trying to find a way out. A child acting out can simply be a sign they are working through something difficult, and may need a supportive ear.
The funny thing is once we stop resisting difficult feelings so much they have less power over us, as does the stuff we try to cover them up with.
This week let’s be mindful of how we handle difficult feelings, not just with ourselves but our children. Are we quick to resist and push bad feelings down? Or do we allow them to surface and get curious about them? Which do you think is better for health and well being of your family?