Not long ago Sunshine was having a sad time. We sat close together and I explained to her that feelings come and go. I told her that I understood that she felt sad, and it felt like it would never end, but that we would sit together until the biggest part of the sadness passed. She nestled in next to me and we talked quietly; before long, she began to feel better and soon we moved on with our day.
The authors of The Whole-Brain Child write that “on average, an emotion comes and goes in ninety seconds.”
With only two chapters to go, our Book Group is heading into the final stretch of reading and discussing The Whole-Brain Child. This week we read Chapter 5: The United States of Me – Integrating the Many Parts of Self. This chapter has three great strategies, one of which is Strategy #8 Let the Clouds of Emotion Roll By: Teaching that Feelings Come and Go.
I know this sounds like common sense, and it is, but I first heard this mentioned when we were in Nebraska for EMDR therapy. Deb was working with Dimples and I think she described emotions as waves and talked about how feelings are like waves that come and go. As an adult, this is something we know from years of experience, but I hadn’t expressed it directly to my children.
When our child feels very sad, and for some of our children, these are BIG feelings, it may seem so powerful that in that moment, she is sure that she will never feel better. Emotions are real, and often appropriate for the situation, but when our child is in the midst of it, the wave feels like it will drown her and never flow back into the ocean.
I timed ninety seconds this morning and imagined how long it would feel if I were having a strong feeling of sadness, anger, or worry. You know what? It felt long – and if I were a child who didn’t know it was going to pass – it would have felt very long.
I know we are busy moms and it is hard to stop what we are doing to simply be present with our kids – but think about it – “on average, an emotion comes and goes in ninety seconds.” Can we teach this to our children, and lend them our assurance that the feeling will pass? Can we breathe with them – slowly, in and out? I think we can.
Of course, with each chapter I find myself not only thinking about my kids, but about myself. How often am I struck by a strong emotion and feel overwhelmed by it? Most often it is fear about the future or worry about something that I need to manage in my crazy schedule. When I can pause and actually identify the feeling, I can tell myself (and I do), “This feeling is going to pass. I’m okay.” If it is a BIG feeling, I might step in to the laundry room, close the door, and breathe deeply, all the while saying in my mind, “I’m okay. Jesus is with me. I am not alone,” or something similar.
Book Group friends, discussion question for Chapter 5 will be up later today. I’ll also be sending you an email soon asking your thoughts about the group format. Thank you so much for reading along with me and making me slow down to really think and take it all in.
Question: Does your child get trapped in feelings? How would it help to teach him that feelings come and go?
Reflections on other chapters:
My reflections on Chapter 1: The River of Well-Being
My reflections on Chapter 2: Connect and Redirect
My reflections on Chapter 3: Three Steps to Regain Control
My reflections on Chapter 4: Memory – I Cried and Nobody Came
My reflections on Chapter 5: Feelings Come and Go
My reflections on Chapter 6: Why Fun Truly Matters
Have a great day, friends; thank you for sharing my life.
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