Mama bear rant first! If you don’t have kids, bear with me (pun intended!) and I promise it will be worth it!
Want to know one of my biggest pet peeves? When people tell kids “shake it off”, “quit crying”, “stop being angry”. First off, I would livid if someone told me that. As an adult, I will feel anything I darn well please! And yet people say it to kids all the time? Why? Why can kids not have feelings and emotions just like I do as an adult? Want to watch me become that mama bear, just try saying these phrases to my kids and see what happens. Okay, I probably will be pretty nice about it, but I will definitely intervene and let me kids know that they can feel whatever they want. You know what I have noticed with my kids? The more my kids can express their feelings, the more they express them in healthy ways (a.k.a. less drama!) Just imagine that! How can you have a full blown tantrum when you are actually being validated? Just some food for thought.
Another story not about kids, back when I first got married, I was such a drama queen! I am very serious… I blew everything out of proportion. I just couldn’t help myself. Everything felt like life or death. I would get so frustrated as I lamented the end of the world and my husband stood calmly listening. How could he remain so calm?!? “DO YOU HEAR ME?!?! THE WORLD IS ENDING!!!” It took us a long time to work through these emotions, but together, we slowly saw that I did not feel like I was being heard, and even more importantly, I did not feel like I had permission to feel. Seems like a strange concept but think about the logic of the statement. Everything needed to be extreme or else my feelings were not “valid.” If it wasn’t the end of the world, then why was I crying? If it wasn’t a huge fight, then how could I be angry? If it wasn’t a big “mistake,” then why was I so hurt? Getting the picture? I couldn’t just feel. I needed BIG drama to justify having any feelings.
Can you relate? Do you feel like the only time you can cry is if someone has died? Do you feel the need to compare your situation to someone else’s to either invalidate your feelings or perhaps invalidate theirs? Do you find yourself using phrases like “at least I didn’t (lose my job)” or “it was just (a miscarriage)”? Why does it matter? Your feelings are valid just as they are. Let them be. It is okay to feel. Stop putting yourself down for having feelings.
Want to know something strange that happens when you allow yourself to feel? You become okay with letting others feel. You are able to sit with someone in grief because you know that it is okay. You are able to sit with someone who is angry and not try and solve the problem. You are able to be present with others and provide permission to feel. You become a safe harbor for those around you. Wouldn’t you like to be that space for those you love? I certainly want to!
So here is my challenge for you today, my friend: name your feelings today. Here is a great worksheet to use to help you. Name as many or as few as you feel. Side note, don’t try and fix your feelings. They are just feelings. They do not define you. They do not control you. They are not good or bad. We are multi-dimensional people and feelings are just part of our puzzle. So you be you today and feel any darn way you please!