"Promise me you'll always remember: You're braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think." A.A. Milne

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Happy is NOT the Only Acceptable Emotion

The past few days have been rather rough. There were some very stressful things happen in our lives and I was having trouble choosing joy daily. Not only that, but we have all been dealing with a bug and that makes it even less fun. Yesterday found me just down and sort of blue. I tried everything to snap out of it but it was not working. I focused on my blessings, on beautiful things, on things that normally bring me joy and peace. Nothing. Then the mantra that I repeat over and over for this house and my children plastered itself smack in the middle of my mind"

Happy is NOT the only acceptable emotion. All emotions are valid.

Hmmm, I do say that alot. You see, I do not demand my children to be happy all of the time. I do not demand for them to perform emotionally for me or anyone else on command. We are learning to be civil but civil is not slapping a fake smile on your face and pretending everything is happy happy joy joy when you are honestly dying a bit on the inside. That would be fake and dishonest. And it wouldn't be Authentic. That is also a commnon word in our house. Our children are allowed to be sad, scared, crabby, and even angry. They can even say, are you ready for this? "I am angry with you mommy!" That it totally permitted. They are allowed to voice their disagreement or objection to well, anything. That doesn't mean the situation will change but I am adamant they should learn to respectfully disagree and understand their feelings and opinions matter.

I know alot of parents would rather their children not show or deal with big emotions especially in public. It can be inconvenient, embarrassing, and messy. But do we really want to teach our children to stuff all their emotions down and put on their happy, public face? Has that really worked for anyone? Ever? Let's look at it.

Teaching people to stuff their emotions has led to a huge group of people who can no longer express their emotions but instead eat them. By this I mean they turn to food. Then they are dealing not only with eating disorders or obesity but eventually all of those suppressed emotions are going to come screaming out. There are people who turn to alchohol and drugs to self medicate the pain away. Often that pain is caused or exacerbated by the inability to process emotions and feelings in a healthy way. Then there are the people pleasers. They have been taught their thoughts and feelings do not matter. They must never tell anyone no becuase that could be offensive. Even when they are completely overwhelmed, they put on their happy face and keep on for the sake of appearances even though they are a destroyed mess on the inside.

Examples of how stuffing your emotions can affect you negatively run rampant in our society especially among women. The point is I want better for my children. Um, I want better for myself. I want to be healthy, honest, open, and authentic. I don't want to slap on my happy face and trudge out into the world with a fake facade and a dying heart. Nope, don't want that at all.

There is another saying in this house, "Grace is for mommas too." It stems from our parenting technique. We believe in gentle parenting and grace based discipline. We do not believe that punitive or shaming behaviors will benefit our children. In fact, we believe they can cause severe harm and damage to our relationship. So we extend grace to our children. Some days, momma needs even more grace than the babies do. Being graceful and loving with myself is a very important lesson to teach my children.

So I stood in my sad little place and I thought about all of this. Of course, this realization and self forgiveness was the release my bad mood needed. After I worked through this process, my mood lifted and I felt the joy return with ease and fullness.

Is happy the only acceptable emotion in your home or in your life? Do you really think it is serving you well? Does what other people think really matter THAT much to you?

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