“The emotional spectrum creates the texture of human experience.” Wow. What a statement! This quote comes from the book Brave Parenting: A Buddhist Inspired Guide to Raising Emotionally Resilient Children by Krissy Pozatek. [This is the current badge book for the parents of heroes here at Wildflower.]
I had personally never thought of emotions in this way before. After reading that part of the book, I began to think about how different my experience as a human would be without feeling joy, excitement, happiness, surprise, anger, sadness or any other emotion on the spectrum. Yes, I even mentioned the emotions that are less than fun to feel. When we oppose feelings we may actually be keeping them stuck inside.
Think back on one of your favorite memories. One of mine would be a simple beach day with my family. Feeling the sand between my toes with the sound of crashing waves in the background, great conversations, an interesting book and a little healthy competition playing ladder ball. Simply existing. I felt pure joy that day.
Now let's talk about an emotion that is slightly less enjoyable to feel - fear. When I feel fear, my heart rate often increases, I become jittery and feel a pit in my stomach. I am not exactly fond of the feeling, but as I have grown I no longer see fear as a negative like I used to. The bottom line is that fear is used to keep us safe and can help trigger the fight or flight response. When we feel triggered, psychology kicks in to keep us safe - we are hardwired for it from birth. On the other hand, fear can also be a response to an unfamiliar or uncomfortable situation. This feeling of fear can be just as intense as one that you may feel in a life or death situation. I personally have a fear of heights. When I was on a hike in the mountains of Colorado (which is way higher than Oklahoma, ha!) we got to a spot where we would have to cross a narrow strip of land with a dropoff on both sides to reach our destination. We had hiked for 3.5 hours to get there, so my options were to either let fear control me and turn back or face it head on. I sat in fear for a moment. I then established that my life was indeed not in danger as long as I walked carefully. My fear became useful and I grew in facing what scared me.
We can become accustomed to feeling comfortable in our existence, even if we are living a life that isn’t up to par with our hopes and dreams. We hold ourselves back. We limit our potential for different reasons - imagined or real.
Growth comes from the uncomfortable, and that can be frightening. Whether you aspire to be more open, more honest or more accustomed to speaking in front of people, it will require a shift and a breaking of barriers that have been put up.
When you feel a shift of emotion, identify it. Feel it. Where is it coming from?
All of that to ask - do you truly allow yourself to feel the full emotional spectrum? Do you allow your child to do the same?
When children are more aware of their emotions, where they stem from and how to navigate them, they will be able to more effectively problem solve and develop healthy relationships - even through challenges.
I will begin allowing myself to truly experience all emotions, will you?