A blog by Claire Standen Coaching
My kids are my constant teachers, and there’s no-one who sees through my bs more clearly than my daughter, who’s 8.
One thing they’ve taught me since the day they were born is about feeling your feelings. That’s been a very steep learning curve since, as it turns out, I was pretty committed to not feeling my feelings. Ironically, as a result, my feelings really seemed to have control of me, rather than the other way around. It makes a lot of sense, when I look at my upbringing, where feelings were not especially welcome and in my adulthood, where I perpetuated that. As a result, I had that toxic mix of not enough/ far too much which women live when they act out the mother wound. Being, as I am, so committed to putting a stop to the generational wounds being passed on, it seems clear to me that I have work to do.
So let’s return to my Monday morning and my daughter feeling her feelings, while I tried to ‘life coach’ her out of them as any good therapist mother should (ahem).
We were sat on her bedroom floor, her having concluded a fairly epic dysregulated session and me having kept my cool admirably… and I invited her to breathe with me. Not to ‘calm down’, as such (except if I’m really honest, it was, a bit), but rather to reconnect and to regulate her nervous system (that’s ‘calm down’ to you). So I say ‘let’s imagine when we breathe in, we’re blowing up a balloon’. Like I said, she’s astute, so she’s two steps ahead… and says, but when balloons go down they don’t go ‘psssssshhhhh’ and motioned with her hands to show a balloon slowly deflating. ‘That’s right!’ I said, they go down like ‘pfllllllt’ (cue me, blowing raspberries and waving my hands madly around in a way that’s harder to convey in writing than I’d anticipated…).
You see, my daughter isn’t for being ‘chivvied’ out of her emotions, and I’m determined not to shut them down, which I used to do as a function of my own incapacity to handle emotions. This is something which, clearly, I’m working on. My kids often tell me that I can cry if I need to, because- like I always tell them, it’s ok to feel their feelings.
The great irony is; the more you feel it’s ok to have them, the less you suffer from your emotions.
Suffering and the emotions can be de-coupled and do not have to co-exist (I facilitate this with clients all the time). I’ll go further and say that the felt sense and the meaning making can be de-coupled and do not have to co-exist. As we’re learning in my breathwork course, if something goes wrong, it’s either a problem with framing or a problem with the felt sense. Framing is sense or meaning making and felt sense is felt sense, whichever way you look at it. (Felt sense is the physical sensations in your body without the narrative about what they mean).
The lesson? As a mother, as a practitioner and as a human, it pays to pay attention because if I’d tried to force my daughter to ‘comply’ with my ‘compulsory relaxation exercise’, I would have degraded her trust in me, and built a barrier between us. Instead, we ended up in fits of giggles and I got an insight into how cool and complex she already is, at 8. Which is probably equal to how cool and complex I was at 8.
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Claire Standen - NLP Mind Coach
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