19 Sep What We Don’t Want to Talk About
Everywhere we look we see reasons why being respectful, compassionate and responsible is so important. Whether it’s in our home, our children’s school, the office, on social media or in our everyday activities, the impact of our behaviour not only affects the lives and wellbeing of others but also ourselves.
CHARACTER MATTERS! This is what many parents and schools are trying to teach each day. There is, however, something that is getting missed in these conversations. It’s what we don’t seem to want to talk about. It’s the elephant in the room. It’s emotions.
Have You Ever Taken a Plane on a Cloudy Day?
You couldn’t see the sun from the runway because the clouds were in the way. Within minutes after take-off, you break through the clouds and there it is – the sun. It was always there – you just couldn’t see it because of the clouds.
Now picture the sun being the character traits you want to be and you want your children/students to be and picture the clouds being the emotions that we all experience throughout our day.
- Do you find that when you are feeling the cloud of anger, it’s harder to make a respectful choice?
- Do you find when you are feeling the cloud of overwhelmed, it’s harder to make a helpful choice?
- When you are experiencing the cloud of frustration, do you find it harder to make a kind choice?
- When you are feeling the cloud of nervous, does it stop you from being courageous?
We need to be able to break through the cloud of emotions in a healthy way and teach children to do the same so that CHARACTER can shine once again!
Why Did You Do That?
Adults often find themselves asking their children or students “why did you do that?” in response to an unwanted behaviour and they usually respond with…
- ‘I felt like it.’
- ‘I wanted to.’
- ‘It doesn’t matter anyway.’
- ‘I don’t know.’
- ‘They did this to me so I…’
The ‘why question’ doesn’t help the young person reflect on the emotions they are feeling that led to the behaviours.
A more effective question is: ‘What were you feeling when this happened?’
Without learning to recognize, identify and talk about their emotional state, it becomes way too easy to react out of those emotions.
Adults Also Need To Talk About ‘The Elephant In The Room’
A critical part of teaching our children to recognize and identify their emotions and how they are linked to behaviour is learning how to do the same ourselves. We can’t expect children to do what we don’t do.
Most adults ignore or put aside their emotions, often to the point that we don’t know how to express or know what we are feeling.
Did your heart skip a beat at the thought of sharing your emotions?
What Makes Adults Afraid to Share Their Emotions?
The simple answer is the fear of being hurt, the fear of being vulnerable. You may feel reluctant to share what you really feel because you worry about what your friends, family, peers, and colleagues may think of you afterwards. However, by sharing emotions, it allows you to have more real and connected relationships.
If I say that I’m feeling sad, disappointed or angry, you know how these emotions feel. The understanding creates connection between us. I am sharing my true self, rather than hiding behind what I think will keep me safe.
While you may not have been through the circumstances I have in my personal life – my parent’s divorce, my challenging relationship with my Dad, being teased at school and being rejected from Canadian Idol, you could relate to how I felt about each circumstance and the emotions those circumstances brought up for me.
Naming Emotions Reduces Their Impact
If you find that you don’t have the words, use the Elephant in the Room poster to help identify the emotion. Being able to name, feel and move through emotions in a healthy way is also beneficial to your health. It reduces anxiety, lowers stress, creates a stronger relationship with yourself and others, builds resilience and creates empathy to name a few.
Once you have identified your emotion, ask yourself how you can release it in a healthy way. Use this poster for ideas.
By practicing the skill of recognizing, naming, and moving through our emotions in a healthy way we can teach our children to do the same! We are the role models. It starts with us!
Until next time,