Do you ever struggle with your emotions?
Like one moment you are happy and relaxed, then something small (or large) happens and instantly dampens your mood? Often, we tend to label emotions as “good or bad”, “negative or positive”. We enjoy the “good” emotions but beat ourselves up or feel guilty for feeling the “bad” ones. What would happen if we could see emotions without labels?
Yesterday I had one of those moments when a rather annoying situation turned into a lovely life lesson.
I was taking a long-awaited bubble bath. I had waited all day for the “perfect” time to be able to get “me time” without interruption. I was just about to get in the bath when the first knock happened. My children, who were supposed to be napping, were apparently up already. I ignored the knock and slid down into the hot and peaceful bath… intent on getting some essential self-care.
I wasn’t even fully wet before the second knock came on longer and louder. I said, “I’m in the bath, you’ll have to wait.”
My kids were pretty determined at this point, and after each new step of the bath (shaving, shampooing, then adding conditioner), I found myself getting more and more angry. My children had no idea how badly I needed this. My husband was awake and fully capable of handling the situation, but no where to be found (or looked for, lol).
By the time I was rinsing the shampoo out of my hair, I heard the baby screaming and knew that her sisters couldn’t handle her anymore. I quickly conditioned my hair (not so well) and jumped out of the bath. (Although I would’ve preferred to linger and bask in the serenity I had imagined).
I got dressed as quickly as I could and made the baby a bottle. After a minute of trying to console her in the rocking chair with a new bottle, I realized that she didn’t want milk and she didn’t necessarily need me. She was crying for something else.
I asked the girls if they had changed her diaper after they got her out of bed? NO, of course not.
As I took the baby into her room to change, I was sad to find a very sore baby bum covered in poo. It was hard and took what seemed like forever to clean up because she had such a bad rash (that wasn’t there before putting her down for a nap). It bled in spots when I wiped it. She cried while I tried to gently wipe off the feces from the sores. It was painful for both of us.
After letting it air out, then generously covering the rash with cream, the baby was as good as new. You would never know that just a few minutes prior she was screaming at the top of her lungs.
It got me thinking about our feelings and emotions. Babies are such great teachers!
I learned a 4-step process for Diagnosing and Overcoming Negative Emotion:
1. Become Aware of Your Emotions
Many of us are hard-wired when it comes to our reactions to things life throws at us. Some of us get angry, others annoyed, others laugh it off and act as if nothing happened. I used to envy that third type. I couldn’t understand why the guy cutting them off in traffic or being super late for an event didn’t seem to ruffle their feathers or get under their skin.
Then I learned about mindfulness. The simple act of becoming aware of our emotions and reactions can help us so much in overcoming and re-writing them.
So, the next time you are feeling crappy, whether it be physical or emotional pain, the first step is to become aware of those feelings. Notice your thought patterns about them and what you are saying to yourself and others.
My baby cried out for help. She knew something was wrong but couldn’t tell us in her words what she needed. Many of us are like that too. Sometimes our bodies and our minds are screaming at us to “wake up and change the dirty diaper!” (aka change your negative thoughts!).
Just as my children were not able to diagnose what was wrong with the baby, we too are sometimes incapable of recognizing the true source of our pain. We blame the way we are feeling on others, on circumstances, or the things around us, rather than ourselves. When we start to dig deep into the root of our emotions or the way we are handling a situation, we can solve them easier.
We become mindful when we recognize, “Hey, I’m have an emotion that doesn’t feel good.” It is then we can get curious and start digging into the layers of pain.
2. Dig Through Dirt to Find Gold.
Next, we start digging into the pain to diagnose where it is coming from.
Simply asking, “Why am I feeling this way? What can I learn from this, or How can I make it better,” we can quickly solve the issue at hand. Rather than giving ourselves a bottle of something or seeking validation and comfort from another, we can find the answer within.
Often, the answer is not obvious until we do some investigating. We like to blame our emotions on exterior things, when often the source is buried inside.
When we ask hard questions, we learn things we would never know.
It might take some digging, and that digging might hurt.
Just like a gold miner, we might have to take a lot of action and we might end up with sore muscles or feel like quitting.
There might be many crappy thoughts and vulnerable feelings to dig through to the root of our pain.
But, when we know the real cause of our issue, we can change it! It gives us power to be in control of our feelings and to fix them. Rather than playing the part of the victim or asking someone else to guide us, we can wipe the slate of negativity in our mind clean by choosing a new thought. We can heal our wounds and move forward.
We learn that we don’t have to feel guilty for feeling a certain way!
3. Emotions can be our friends!
Rather than labeling our emotions as “good” or “bad” we can use them as our guidance system. I like to think of them like a gas gauge.
We each have an inner or “higher” self within. This is the best and most wise version of ourselves, and it resides within, under all the layers of crappy stuff we’ve buried it under for years.
When we take the time to be mindful and ask ourselves the questions in step two, we can learn a lot from our feelings. When we are filled up and in tune with our highest self, we feel “good, happy, and fulfilled.”
When we are out of alignment, or running on empty, or blaming things outside of ourselves for the way we feel, our emotions can help us out.
They can become like the friend that is not afraid to tell you your out of line or that you have lipstick on your teeth. They are so valuable to have around, even if it hurts.
Emotions give us clues as to how to alleviate or solve our problems. Instead of feeling guilty or bad for feeling anger, jealousy, or annoyance (etc.) we can see those as signs that our gas tank is nearing empty. They tell us to tune in and to refill our tank. They warn us that we are out of alignment and need to pay attention.
This tank can be empty or running low when we neglect to take time for self-care, or when we are running on overdrive for too long without taking a break.
By using our emotions as a gauge of where we stand with our inner guidance system, we will soon find that we feel a lot better about the so called “negative” feelings. And we make time to take care of ourselves so we can prevent having more of those emotions.
4. Fix it & Forget it
We can all learn a lot from a baby that moves on really quickly after getting a new diaper and rash cream. One moment they are in pain, and the next they are happy and content. They don’t think about the rash again. They don’t dwell on the story over and over. “My mom hurt me so bad- she kept wiping and wiping, not even caring that I was in pain. Why couldn’t she just leave the poop alone? I can’t believe she neglected me for so long. I don’t know why she left me with my sisters- they don’t know what they are doing…” etc. etc.
So often, we repeat our sob stories and negative experiences over and over.
We relive the pain and wallow in our sorrow every time we retell the story or think about it.
If we can just learn to let it go and shake it off, we will be feeling better and more aligned really fast.
Rather than feeling bad for feeling bad, we can recognize that we don’t need to stay where we are mentally- we can move on and get over it. We can shake it off and let it go!
Babies allow themselves to FEEL emotion. They don’t suppress or pretend everything is fine and dandy. They don’t put it off for another day. They feel it fully and then release it. Most of the time, when we fully feel an emotion, it goes away a lot faster than when we try to hide from it. When we suppress, we end up having to express it sooner or later.
When we allow ourselves to feel our feelings without guilt or judgment, we get over those emotions a lot faster. (usually within minutes!)
Want more lessons I’ve learned from my baby? Check This Out!
If you want to learn about the best thing you can do for your kids: Click Here
Looking for ways to refill your personal tank?: Read This
We also offer a free 4-day video series to boost your confidence (fill your tank): Get Confident Now!
What life lessons have you learned from your kids? Please let me know what you think of this article, or what you can take away from it. We love to hear from our readers!