Michele Coleman, Ph. D. LMFT
How did you make out last month with focusing on your emotions? Did it feel like you were breaking some family rule? How did those closest to you respond? Perhaps we need more permission to honor our feelings. Feelings are neither right nor wrong, they just are. Our emotions communicate how we are responding to our environment.
In order to create an emotionally safe environment in which your child will want to connect with you, it is vital that you are open and available for connection. One essential way of becoming connectable (technical term, ;-)) is by allowing yourself to feel, honor and appropriately express your own emotions. The most important person for you to share these vulnerable emotions with is You. Connecting authentically with yourself first is critical before you can branch out to be available for connection with another.
So for this month, I invite you to join me in paying attention to the emotions that arise in you in certain situations. Begin noticing what parts of your body communicate which emotions. Pay attention to the body sensations because according to Diana Fosha (2000) the body sends the message first. If we pay attention to our body sensations we will have a chance to use one of our tools to shift how we express that emotion.
I like to see the relationship I have with my body’s communication as personal. I hate it when I miss the body signal and then project the emotion onto someone else. Ugh! If that has ever happened to you and you find yourself having to backpedal and make apologies I invite you to join me over the next month in listening to your body. Notice what emotions are expressed where. All you have to do for this first step is simply put your awareness on the body part and ask, what am I feeling now? Or you can say, What are you communicating to me? I am listening. That’s it. Just listen.
This skill will transfer to your kiddo when they move into your home and begin doing what I call miscuing. Miscuing is when they are not in touch with what they are feeling, but the feeling is so bad it must be given away to some safe – You. This is actually a good thing when our children or teens give us their feelings because if we are grounded and doing our personal work, we can respond.