I was worried about my father who had been ill with a suspected heart attack just after Easter. I had spent nearly 24 hours awake sitting with my parents at the hospital, which is always a pleasant experience for patient and family...NOT. I came home to mother duties, a wrecked house and decided that if that wasn't all stressful enough, I should go and do the groceries in an unfamiliar supermarket.
And the events all came down on top of my head in a great one tonne weight....yes, I was the woman standing in front of the dairy fridge, bawling my eyes out because I couldn't find the feta cheese. I left a full trolley of groceries there and had my breakdown in the company of Mr Cadbury's finest chocolate in the car.
So what's wrong with this picture? That last sentence.
To stop myself feeling bad, stressed and upset, I turned to a sugar fix that really fixes nothing. It's like putting a bandaid on an amputee....makes you THINK like you are doing something but you're not. Why is it so hard for us as adults to feel our emotions?
Working with small children, I notice they have NO problem in letting you know exactly how they feel. Have a guess at these emotions.
I defy ANYONE to be happier than the second pic!
Children do NOT have a problem with feeling their emotions to the full. They will shriek, laugh, scream, bawl, yell as they feel. And as Adults we race to placate these emotions....they are too full on for us to handle, it's not polite or 'the done thing' to display your emotions like that. And usually our first reaction, particularly to negative emotion displays is to shove something sweet in their mouth to shut them up. Fall over and hurt you knee? Don't cry it out, here have a chocolate. Temper tantrum at the right moment, here have a chocolate and shhh for goodness sakes! Frightened? A cuddle and a chocolate usually makes it all right again. Happy? I'm happy too. Let's BOTH have a chocolate.
Why is that?
Why did it become so socially unacceptable to feel our emotions? And why did it become socially acceptable to use food, traditionally sweet food to ease the 'pain' of all of these emotions?
I truly don't know. What I do know is, if I started having a tantrum in the middle of the supermarket because dammit, I've had a hard day and I can't find the feta cheese, they'd cart me off to the madhouse....probably to my usual bed ( ha)
What do children do?
They throw their whole bodies into it. They are little missiles of action no matter what....have a think or watch your own children ( I'd say watch someone else's but that may give rise to awkward situations). If they are supremely angry and in a fully licensed to kill temper tantrum, their WHOLE body is joining in. If crying, their whole body cried with them (and leaks from EVERYWHERE it seems) If they are laughing, good lord, Santa would be proud of the wobbling bellies and shaking shoulders. And if they are tired/asleep, it's as if all life has left the building, they are limp little dolls of themselves. Children are nothing but little balls of physical movement in all extremes.
They don't automatically think "Hmmm, today has just not gone to plan and I've really had enough. I think I need a family size box of Maltesers to get me through." No. It is more like this.....now it IS a commercial, for condoms funnily enough but it is the perfect illustration.
So I developed the Kipwil Emotional Education plan A.
The next time I felt angry, I went for a run. I had the feeling all inside me and it had to come out so if you were walking down by the river a couple of weeks ago and heard a psycho woman running and yelling sporadically, that was me. I make no apologies, just letting you know it will be likely to happen again, so don't get concerned or call the cops.
It took 5 kms to get it all out. And I felt good afterwards. Empty but good. It was as if I fuelled that run with the fires of Hell that were in me until they were all used up, and nothing, not even ash was left.
So next time when I am feeling really angry or really sad, or really happy or really ANY emotion, I am going to use physical means to feel it. I will cry. I most likely will yell. I will definitely laugh. But instead of eating it down inside of me, I will feel it and run.
I will run that emotion out of myself. I will feel it no matter how much it hurts or bothers me or elates me and I will run with it. So far, plan A is working.
We adults have so much to learn from children.......if we only take the time to watch and listen.