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A guide to processing your emotions - and helping our children through co-regulation

Updated: Feb 9, 2022

Sometimes those big feeling can be challenging to work through, how many times have you said you were okay, when really you weren't? This is all to common in our society, where the term "suck it up" has been heard by most of us at some stage during our childhood.

This didn't mean our parents were bad people, and it doesn't mean we are if we've used the term, it's simply just become the "norm"

However, I'd like to see a shift in perspective here, a shift towards feeling our emotions, so that we can truly "let it go" rather that "suck it up"

What happens when we "suck it up"?

Well, a little like a vacuum, the emotions haven't really left us at all, they are just gathering up inside, until we are so full, we can no longer effectively hold on to any more emotions and the hurt begins to show, we become depressed, angry or withdrawn and we need to find a way to let it out or we start experiencing mental health issues and even physical pain and ailments.

When we learn how to process our emotions in a healthy way, we have so much more space to allow true connections and peace to come in to our lives.

But how?

The first step is to name our emotions.

We can use the terms like, "I feel sad" or "I feel angry" and we can also name any sensations that we are feeling within our bodies....for example, your chest might feel tight, a sharp pain in your stomach or a sore throat, perhaps you might feel dizzy or like you want to run away.

Depending on your child's ability to language their emotions, we might need to help them by asking questions, and calmly talking through any sensations that we might feel in a similar emotional state (this is where time and patience comes in to play, and a little practice on recognising these sensations for yourself if this is a new concept), take your time to try and notice what's going on.

The second step is to accept it.

This one will definitely be a new concept for many, after all, most of us are used to suppressing the "negative" emotions. What makes them negative? The fact that they feel bad right? But if we didn't feel fear, we would potentially do more dangerous activities, if we didn't feel frustration or anger, how would we know when someone disrespected our boundaries?

All of our emotions are critical to our survival, the key is not to allow them to be a place where we unpack and stay. We feel them for a reason, and if we can accept that they serve a purpose, that they are natural and kind of what separates us from sociopaths then are they really negative? Perhaps they can be challenging, but the sooner we can accept that they are part of life and served their purpose (at a stretch, see if you can practice gratitude for these emotions - this is something that may take more practice, but so so powerful)

The third step is to feel it.

You've named it, and accepted it (to the best of your ability), now we need to just sit with it and feel it without attaching shame or guilt. For so many of us, we have been brought up to think some of our feelings are wrong, and sometimes we might even feel silly for crying about something seemingly trivial (but there's a reason it came up) so we have tried to hide it and shut it out in the past.

ALL emotions are not only okay, but essential for experiencing life. Just like we cannot have a rainbow, without a little rain, we cannot fully appreciate joy, without a little sadness, it's in the contrast that shines a light on everything we feel.

The fourth step is to then let it go.

This is the step that many confuse with the "let it stay" or "bottle it up". If we haven't been able to go through the first three steps, then we are unlikely to truly let it go.

Once you have experienced each emotions through the above mentioned steps, then we can release it's energy and feel free to experience all that life has to offer. Children tend to do this step without a second thought if they have been supported through the first three steps.

I hope this has been helpful for you and for your confidence in supporting your loved ones through the full gambit of emotions. Feel free to drop any questions below or contact me for a FREE discovery session if you would like to explore this further.

Disclaimer - There is no set amount of time for this process to take and depends on a variety of factors, such as how deep the emotion is (has it been bubbling for a long time? Or was it a very traumatic event that led to the emotion?). It can also depend on your emotional resilience, if you've already had the knowledge and/or opportunity to express your feelings.

Don't expect to have your emotions all sorted and be able to process something big by the time you finish reading this article. Sometimes we need to go through this process many times before something is really accepted and let go, and that's very common, each time it will get a little easier though, keep're worth it!

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