Your Feelings Are Not the Boss of You

Purposeful Parent Tip: Teach your child to acknowledge their feelings but not to give in to them.

“I don’t feel like it.” How many times have you or your child said those words? “Why didn’t you do your homework?” “I didn’t feel like it.” “Why didn’t you clean your room?” Same response…”I didn’t feel like it.” For many of us, kids included, we pay a lot attention to our feelings. People are always asking us how we are feeling. We base important decisions on a feeling. Guess what? It’s time to rethink this.

Every day, in fact every minute, we feel a different feeling. We wake up and perhaps feel energized. Within a few hours, after a tough commute to work or a child gets sick, that energetic feeling is replaced with frustration or anger or disappointment. It impacts the rest of our day. What happened to that positive, energized feeling we had when we woke up? Did it disappear? Was it never really there to being with?

I’ll tell you exactly where it went. Nowhere. It’s still inside you waiting to reappear as soon as you make a decision to let it. What? How can that be? Did you NOT see what kind of morning I had?

I did and believe me, I have them too.

Most days when I wake up at 6:00 am to get my son off to school, there’s nothing more that I would love to do but to stay in bed. I FEEL like wrapping myself up in my yummy comforter and saying a big old fat “NO” to the world. I’m staying put. If I did that, I would not have those few moments with my son and I’d miss out on spending one-on-one time with him.

Ok, it’s not exactly one-on-one time until I’ve had my coffee, but it’s close.

If you’ve read a few of my blog posts or follow me on Facebook, then you know my dislike for cooking. If I won the lottery tomorrow, the first thing I would do is hire a personal chef. I NEVER feel like cooking. Ever. But I have two growing children and if I want them to continue to grow and be healthy, I have to cook some of the time. Lord knows the most dreaded question in my life is “What’s for dinner?”

Lately, my children and I have been eating out a lot. A lot. As I balance my checkbook each week, I’m dismayed (ok, shocked) at all of the entries to local restaurants. Yikes! I’m spending money on take-out when my refrigerator and cupboard are filled; in fact, over-filled.

What am I doing here? What message am I sending to my kids? That just because I don’t FEEL like cooking, that it’s ok to eat out and spend money that we really shouldn’t? Not good.

This struck me the other day. I’d had a busy day right up until my kids came home. I didn’t take anything out of the freezer and hadn’t a clue on what to make for dinner. Nothing really new. As the “get your coats on” words were forming in my throat, I stopped. I realized in that moment that I needed to make a change. I had to stop being led around by these feelings of laziness really, and do my job as a mother.

I went into the kitchen and made dinner. And I did this the next day and the next day. Nothing fancy. Nothing complicated but a solid meal that I had prepared. I “felt” good.

If I give in to my feelings of not wanting to make dinner every night, it’s likely my children and I will be customers at the local soup kitchen pretty soon. If I give in to my feelings of wanting to stay in bed at 6:00 am, I will have missed out on precious moments with my son. If I give in to my feelings of having to stay on the computer past 5:00 pm out of my fear of missing some great opportunity, I send my kids the message that what’s online is more important than them.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that feelings are the devil. We were born with these ‘early warning systems’ to help us. That feeling of fear you get when you are in danger is a good thing. That feeling of “something is not quite right here” is a heads up to change course or make a different decision. I’m not suggesting you ignore your feelings, but rather to put them in their rightful place and not live your life by them.

‘Cuz guess what? They are not always right. And they can’t be depended upon to help us make good decisions. Make a decision out of fear? Bet it’ll back-fire at some point. Commit to something because you feel guilty?  Bet you’ll regret it when it becomes another time-suck in your life.

It’s important to connect and acknowledge our feelings. Address the negative ones. Appreciate the positive ones. Kids need to understand this too. How do they handle their feelings of anger or frustration? Knowing how to label them is a good start. Not suppressing them is a great next step. But teaching them to make smart, informed decisions that are not wholly influenced by their feelings is setting them up for success later in life. Teaching them that they can make a decision to feel differently is critical for their well-being.

How do you do this? By setting the example yourself.

In my previous post, “Feel the fear and do it anyway”, I talked about my old fear of meeting new people but not letting that feeling impact my decision to walk into a networking meeting where I didn’t know anyone. This is what I’m saying.

Feel the feelings, but don’t let them boss you around.


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