Many of us have been raised to deliver one answer to the question: “How are you feeling?” Any guesses to the answer??
Do you have a hard time expressing your feelings? I did and I came to realize why. As a kid, I was always told to “Be quite”, “Sit down”, “You are to be seen not heard”, “You’re a kid, what do you know?”. Does any of this sound familiar? For years I shut my feelings off and did not express my thoughts. I learned to say nothing. I began to feel invisible. I began to question my feelings and thought my opinions didn’t matter. I had to make everyone else happy. To speak up would be selfish. Selfish was not good.
When asked how I was or what I thought my answer was usually “fine”. It was an answer that seemed to be acceptable, no need for further conversation. It was the easy answer. As time went on, as an adult, I felt uneasy giving “my opinion”, questioned my decisions and I had a hard time trying to have meaningful conversations with family, friends and my peers. It was very frustrating. Finally, I made the decision to stop. One way was to upgrade my emotional intelligence. Identify what I was feeling in the moment and give it a name and be honest about how I felt and what I thought. Yes, I did have a voice like so many other people I associated with. In fact, they actually did care what I had to say. Wow what a limiting belief I had! Do you have one like this? Are you holding out on your thoughts and opinions because you do not think anyone cares to listen?
Is Fine even a feeling?
I don’t think so. Fine is a COP OUT. Most of the time it’s not even true. It really means “I’m actually furious, sad, lonely, upset, but I’m going to be a good girl/boy and stuff those feelings deep down inside of me and pretend that everything is FINE.”
Fine, live your life like that! Just know that you are missing out on real relationships, true connections and the good things that makes life worth living, while teaching your kids to do the same. Do you want that?
Are you wondering why we do this crazy “Fine Thing?”
We do it because it is the path of least resistance. It’s easy. We don’t have to acknowledge difficult feelings. We don’t need to take responsibility for our feelings and actions.
Have you ever been on a plane and the kids are well behaved and as the plane arrives the other passengers, with huge sighs of relief, tell the parents how good their kids were?
Or on the other hand, the kids were losing it for the entire plane ride and everyone is glaring at the poor parents like they are the worst ever! We are conditioned to be FINE. Fine wins the prize…or does it?
Our parents wanted us to be fine so they didn’t have to deal with us. When we were fine, they could clean the house, do their work or read a book. Fine is “convenient”. (Not saying All parents here.)
Is Fine Convenient?
Emotions are messy and inconvenient. Think about the last time that your child had a complete melt down…messy right? What about the last time your significant other and you had an argument…messy right?
Was your child wrong for feeling what they were feeling? How did you respond or react? Did you teach your child what you know or how to deal with how they were feeling?
Have you ever told your child: Stop Crying! You’re being ridiculous! What’s the matter with you? Have you witnessed you child just sit there in silence with “that look” on his/her face? Don’t worry if you did. It’s ok! We have all done this!
The Big Problem
Emotionally disconnected kids become controlled, which can lead to controlling and disconnected adults.
And adults who don’t know how to connect and recognize their emotions cannot teach emotional intelligence to their own children.
Children who are taught to follow all of the rules, because if they don’t they will face punishments and consequences, are going to follow the rules, absolutely. And they will continue to do what they’re told. As a teen they will follow: a friend or peer who tells them to steal, do drugs or just have a drink, or as a young adult: listen to a boss take who will take advantage of them or as an adult: allow a spouse to walk all over them. Is this what you want for your child?? Follower vs Leader. Leaders feel, however, great leaders feel and are compassionate, this is not a weakness, it is a strength.
If Fine is not the answer you seek
Then we MUST let ourselves and our kids to FEEL and find the words to express those feelings!
Most of us have been raised in a way that taught us that any emotion was undesirable. If we cried, we were told not to. If we got angry, we got in trouble. If we were scared, embarrassed or shy we were told we were wrong. As a result, we’ve missed out on and even repressed a whole spectrum of other emotions that are going on inside us. We haven’t allowed ourselves to notice, feel or express.
Not to worry. Get down and get messy because it is okay! No one is going to melt! You can turn the tides right now. Be the Great Compassionate Leader for your family and express your feelings and teach your child to do the same. You can Repairent the moment that you decide to do it.
You can have a deep and lasting connection between you and your child that profoundly impacts the quality of time and cooperation that you have together.
The next time you have a feeling, try not to do anything about it. Just feel it, lean into it and learn from it. Be a role model for your child. It takes some practice but you’ll start to feel better and so will your child. It’s Magical.