Were you aware that many people, young and old, seem to be swimming, or perhaps even drowning in a sea of anxiety—feeling highly stressed and anxious more often than not?
As “human doings,” many of us are extremely busy and feel as if we’re constantly chasing time. Stressed and anxious parents seem to be raising over-programmed and anxious children within a technologically-driven, overthinking, and exhausted society.
What I’m hearing from my clients and students and also sensing from others is that many families are struggling in this way. The family dynamic seems to be shifting in unhealthy ways. Parents are not communicating as well as they could be with each other AND with their children, and so relationships are being compromised—as is the entire family unit.
A high school English teacher I recently interviewed validated this about adolescents, stating that her students so often seemed anxious and “lost in a whirlwind of colliding emotions.” But what about all of the other feelings… in addition to anxiety and stress?
If we “human beings” cannot properly express a broad range of emotions—then we cannot properly communicate them. As parents, if we cannot communicate them ourselves, then we cannot act as guides, mentors, and role models to our spouse and our children.
The spectrum of emotions ranges from the most upsetting and uncomfortable to the most pleasant and joyful. According to the wellness research, ALL of these emotions, both the negative AND the positive, need to be felt, acknowledged, and then properly communicated, not repressed or numbed with distractions and addictions which, tragically, seems to be our current default.
According to recent research, being able to distinguish between different emotions (a skill known as emotional differentiation) is extremely important as it “may stop negative emotions from turning into something worse.” Practicing this skill is like practicing mindfulness with your emotions. When you’re experiencing an emotion, it’s important to pause and become aware of what you are truly feeling in the moment.
My general focus in all of my roles, both personal and professional, is to guide people to quiet and calm their anxious, overthinking mind so they can begin to navigate themselves more lightly and peacefully in this world. My specific goal, however, is to help restore the sacred family unit, something that is very near and dear to my heart.
What holds a family together is unconditional love, respect, and acceptance; these cannot be nurtured without emotional awareness. For the sake of all family members to feel safe, seen, heard, and acknowledged, we must all begin by building our own skillset of emotional awareness and vocabulary. Imagine the ripple effect within the home, the workplace, and within society at large if we all started communicating from a more authentic place. But we cannot do so if we lack the vocabulary.
For example, when you say that you’re anxious and stressed, what are some other words you could use instead, to be more specific? Get curious about exploring your emotions so you can build up your emotional vocabulary to better communicate how you are feeling. Here are some examples of NEGATIVE EMOTIONS and feel free to add your own!
A – Angry, Afraid, Annoyed, Ashamed, Alone
B – Belittled, Betrayed
C – Concerned, Confused, Conflicted, Cheated
D – Defeated, Deceived, Desperate, Doubtful
E – Embarrassed, Envious, Exhausted, Enraged
F – Fearful, Frustrated
G – Guilty
H – Hurt, Heartbroken, Helpless, Hopeless, Humiliated
I – Invisible, Isolated, Inadequate, Insecure
J – Judged, Jealous
L – Lost, Lonely
M – Misunderstood, Mistreated
N – Neglected, Nervous, Numb
O – Overwhelmed, Offended
P – Pressured
R – Regretful, Resentful
S – Sad, Self-conscious
T – Troubled
U – Upset, Unhappy, Unappreciated
V – Vulnerable
W – Weak, Worried
Additionally, according to the research, when you want to create a successful outcome, it is important to do so ahead of time, first in your mind by setting intentions—a very powerful habit. For example: If you’re preparing to have a critical conversation with your child, set it up in your mind ahead of time. Decide how you want you and your child to feel during that conversation as well as the action-steps you want your child to take when you’re done. It is so important for our children to feel safe and supported rather than threatened and attacked. Set the intention to work on the worthwhile goal of having a solid and healthy emotional connection with yourself, your spouse, and your children.
It is therefore equally as important to get curious about exploring and engaging in more positive feelings. You can begin by using this list of POSITIVE EMOTIONS. Again, feel free to add your own!
A – Accepted, Appreciated
B – Brave, Balanced
C – Connected, Calm, Compassionate, Curious, Courageous
D –Dedicated, Determined
E – Empowered, Excited, Energized, Engaged
F – Focused, Forgiving, Free, Flexible, Fearless, Fulfilled
G – Grateful, Generous, Good enough
H – Happy, Hopeful
I – Inspired
J – Joyful
K – Kind
L – Liked, Loving, Lovable
M – Mindful, Motivated
N – Needed
O – Optimistic, Open-minded
P – Peaceful, Purposeful, Passionate
R – Resilient, Relevant
S – Strong, Satisfied, Safe
T – Trusting, Tolerant
V – Valued
W – Wise, Worthy
We are all wired different—each with our own particular, subconscious defaults. And like our “mind-traps,” which are unhealthy and exaggerated patterns of thinking that become our mental defaults, we, too, have our emotional “go-to’s” or default settings, for example, feeling worried and afraid all of the time.
It is so very important to recognize your own natural tendencies so that you can decide whether or not they are serving you well, and if not, to question them, and ultimately change them.
I, therefore, challenge you this month, which is also the month of Elul in the Hebrew calendar—a time for deep introspection, to visit your “emotional change room” and try on some new, positive feelings that will promote new and healthier actions and generate more positive and satisfying results. The list of positive emotions above will help you to do so.
It is possible to learn how to “be” with your negative emotions rather than avoid them or shut them down. Likewise, it is possible to learn how to use positive emotions to co-create amazing new results in your life and in all of your relationships. Do this not only for yourself, but also to mentor and guide your children to be able to do so, in leading them by example.
PS – If you are interested in learning more about this, please register today for my upcoming workshops:
- A Special Event for Parents: Wed. Oct. 16/19 – How to Calm the Anxious Adolescent Mind, at the Schwartz/Reisman Centre, 7:30 pm
- A Special Event for Parents: Tues. Oct. 29/19 – How to Calm the Anxious Adolescent Mind, at Chabad Markham, 8:00 pm
- How to Quiet the Overthinking Mind: Schwartz/Reisman Centre, Tuesdays, 7:30 – 9:00, Nov. 5 – Dec. 10/19
- How to Quiet the Overthinking Mind: Prosserman JCC, Thursdays, 7:30 – 9:00, Nov. 7 – Dec. 12/19