Decoding Emotions

The Hidden Messages in Emotions …

Have you ever done or said something you vowed you never would do?
When last did you lose your cool?
How often do you feel intense anger, frustration or excitement?

We all have times of feeling low and this is natural, just as it is normal to experience joy or fulfilment.  Yet our culture is such that positive-labelled emotions are more acceptable than negative ones.  Advertisers promise us long-lasting happiness if we choose their brand.  Imagine for a moment the world with only happiness … what would happiness become, would it still remain the happiness we know now?

In my book, ‘Living an Inspiring Life with Young Children‘, it says, “Emotions are there for a reason.  Without emotions, be they ‘good’ or ‘bad’, we might miss serious situations in our children and ourselves.” Human beings are designed with such perfection that our physical and emotional responses provide the information we need to make decisions.  The trick comes with the decoding.  If we try to cover our ‘negative’ feelings with escapism in food, alcohol, movies, work etc., we rob ourselves of the opportunity of the ‘A-HA Moment’.

Now, imagine how your child feels when s/he has a surge of anger or fear.  This can be powerful and often overwhelming, especially for young ones.  To assist their process, start by accepting what has come up.  Then, if your child wants to, talk about it.  A discussion may take place immediately or later, let the child be the guide.  During your chat, explore thoughts, actions and feelings without judgement.  A few hours later, or the next day, role play the situation using other characters, puppets or toys (depending on the age of the child).  This time the story could have a different ending, or not.  Allow the activity to take on a life of its own.

By providing a safe space for your child to work through situations and events, emotions can be processed and then released when they are no longer required.  The same is true for parents, create a zone when you can let loose and explore emotions that are repeatedly surfacing. Journaling one’s thoughts is a healthy way to work through unresolved issues.

The next time your child is pushing your buttons and you want to shout, “Stop It!”  Breathe.  Watch this emotion; listen to its hidden message.  What is it trying to tell you?  Do you need to put your feet up?  Is your eating habit affecting your hormones and causing you to spin out of control?  If you think the decoding is challenging think again.  The real test comes when we ask ourselves to follow through on the request sent in from head office via the roller coaster.  This may lead to another question, namely, how badly do we really want to master our emotions?  Is it easier to ignore our outbursts?

Whatever the weather, our emotions are here to stay.  So, embrace the aliveness in you for then you can welcome the humanness of your child and those around you.

By Helen Hansen

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