Embracing Discomfort: What Our Uncomfortable Emotions Teach Us
If you are like me, you probably learned in childhood to avoid uncomfortable emotions.
When we are told to stop crying, when we are punished for showing anger, when we are told our fears are silly, we learn that those emotions should be avoided or at least not shown to others.
We learn to hide the emotions from others and even ourselves.
We lose sight of the importance of those uncomfortable emotions and the truth they are trying to tell us.
Fear, sadness, anger (or whatever emotions you have avoided) all have an important place in your growth and learning.
As parents, we often don’t realize how much we avoid these emotions until the children in our lives express them, sometimes loudly.
And the more we avoid the emotions in our lives, the more likely we are to see them show up in our relationships with children. Children will mirror back to us the work we need to do as parents.
Was anger hurtful and destructive in your family of origin? Then anger expressed by the child in your life will likely be a strong trigger for you.
Were your physically punished as a child? When a child lashes out physically, you may find that to be a trigger.
Were you told that big kids don’t cry? When a child cries and expresses sadness, you may find that to be a trigger.
How can we learn to embrace discomfort when the lessons we learned as children were about hiding or avoiding those emotions?
We have to do exactly what we were taught not to do.
Instead of turning away from the uncomfortable emotions, we walk straight into them. We need to face them. Not in fighting mode, but in acceptance.
We need to give space to the child inside of us who didn’t get to express those emotions. We need to create a safe place for the little boy or girl we once were to feel the emotions without fear of punishment or judgment.
This may feel difficult to do at first.
But, the more you turn toward those emotions the easier it will become.
The more you give voice to those emotions the less they will need to yell at you to get your attention.
The more you embrace them, the more the emotions will lesson their hold on you.
And slowly, but surely, you’ll notice that the next time the child in your life yells in anger, the less it triggers you. Or the next time the child breaks down in sadness, you are able to be there, present, without feeling the need to break away or shut the child down because you feel overwhelmed.
The more you embrace your emotions, the more likely you are able to be with the children in your life unconditionally.
Your acceptance of their emotions will come not from what you say, but from how you are with them. They will feel from you that those emotions can come forward and you will be there for them without judgment.
In the same way you are learning to be with yourself without judgment.
These are radical notions in our culture. Unconditional love and acceptance. Emotions without judgment. Turning inward toward discomfort rather than turning away and finding relief externally.
This radical change within ourselves will be reflected in our relationships with children. It truly is our most important work and will ripple outward to create broader change.
Sometimes we need help to turn toward the discomfort we were taught to avoid. Learn more about working with me.
“Teresa is an amazing woman who is gentle and skilled at helping you to draw out ‘stuff’ you may not even know is lurking there!” ~Mellissa