“BIG feelings”

Eli is thick into the threenager phase.

He is very much driven by his emotions. And his emotions can be BIG.

When he gets told no… And especially if he gets in trouble. Right now, there is nothing worse than getting in trouble for something that he’s been told three times prior not to do.

That is when the big mamma and daddy guns come out. That’s when he gets told firmly how what he is doing is unacceptable and the fun stops.

There’s nothing worse for Eli right now than to disappoint mommy or daddy.

Cue the waterworks…

But no matter what, Tracy and I try to let him experience his emotions fully. Not shutting down negative emotions or telling him “it’s going to be ok.”

Because in his mind, it’s not ok.

We have learned to say, “I’m here for you.”

Because that’s all anyone wants to hear when they are going through a tough time… You’re not alone.

And unless we know that he is using his emotions to manipulate the situation to get his way, we allow him to embrace being upset, frustrated, angry, and sad.

This goes against natal instinct. It’s natural to want to redirect his attention and put away those feelings somehow. Or try to do something to make him feel better in the moment.

But if we take that moment away from him, he will never learn how to process those emotions fully.

So instead, we try to ask him how he is feeling and why he is feeling that way.

Instead of telling him “it’s going to be ok,” we talk about what happened. What made him feel that way. And, ultimately try to help him find other ways express and understand these big feelings.

Because emotions are not the enemy. It’s part of how we work as humans. We are going to feel them…

I don’t want Eli to grow up thinking some emotions are wrong… No mater how he feels.

What matters is how he responds to those feelings.

As we get older, emotions don’t go away. They get bigger and more complex as we develop more relationships and have more experiences.

The stakes get higher.

And most people think as they grow up they’ve learned how to control their emotions. When, in fact, they’ve just learned how to stuff them down and not talk about them.

On the surface, it looks like we know how to control our emotions. But, really we are just harboring all of those feelings inside. And they’ll either destroy us from the inside out over time, or they will boil to the surface ready to explode like a volcano in one uncontrollable rage causing relationship collateral damage that may or may not be reparable.

This is something I’ve struggled with most of my life. Most of my life I shied away from expressing my emotions.

It hasn’t been until recently—with Tracy’s help—that I have been able to recognize this and start to open up.

I’m so grateful for her big heart.

It’s easier to recognize the importance of emotional freedom with a 3 year old than it is with ourselves and other adults.

But if we are willing to be open and honest with our feelings with those closest to us,

and give them room to do the same by listening and saying, “I’m here for you,” instead of trying to make them feel better in the moment,

we can lift some of the burden off each others shoulders.

And that’s a great feeling.


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