Are we failing our children when it comes to feelings?

Posted by on April 6, 2018 • 2 minute read

As a society we have condemned the expression of difficult feelings. What effect does this have on our children?

 

When I am not feeling OK, but I can’t tell anyone

Jared is having some real difficulties at home and school. His parents fight a great deal with each other and him. The unpleasantness on the home front affects his concentration at school and his marks have dropped. As a result his teachers give him more (negative) attention than he would like. The situation is spiralling downward because his parents are now on his back when they are not at each other’s throats.

Despite all of this, if you ask Jared how he is feeling, you will hear the standard issue, non-committal, response of “fine”. Anyone who cares can see this is far from the truth but the wall he has built around himself gets thicker and higher by the day. And inside he is crumbling. The idea that he can admit to himself, let alone to someone else, how he is feeling freaks him out. The thought that he may have to verbalise his current state and, in doing so, possibly break down, is a bridge too far. There is no way that he is going to open himself up to that trauma. Because this is exactly what it feels like to him – traumatic.

How have we done this to Jared? As a society we have condemned the expression of difficult feelings as ‘weak’, ‘not done’, ‘unmanly’, and downright embarrassing. So we go around hiding our pain, numbing our anguish, and stifling any stress under layers of learnt coping behaviours.

We cope by disappearing

Jared’s way of coping is to disappear into his computer games. This way he doesn’t have to feel. He plays all night, sleeps late and then spends the following day listless, scratchy, tired and unable to concentrate. Neither his mom nor his dad can face their feelings either. His mom fills her emotional well with food and sleeping tablets and his dad spends his nights at the pub.

What if Jared knew that there is a way to deal with his pain without any of the talking, explaining, shame and guilt he thinks he needs to endure if he ‘goes for help’. What if Jared knew that he didn’t even need to say what he was feeling at all. He just needed to sit quietly, with a trusted adult, close his eyes, and go inside himself to seek out what he was feeling. Find it. And let it go. Shape of Emotion does just this. It is a safe, gentle, content-free way to deal with difficult emotions.

Do you know a Jared who could benefit from Shape of Emotion?

 

Matthew Green

Matthew loves to connect with people and inspire them to become more engaged with their feelings. He’s the co-founder of 5th Place and co-creator of Shape of Emotion.

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