In My House We Believe in Talking About Emotions
By: Amy Morrison PA-C at morrisonclinic.com
I have noticed that as a society we really do a poor job of expressing our emotions. Not only do we feel uncomfortable talking about emotions, but we also do not really know what we are feeling. We don’t know how to deal with negative emotions because most of us lack the ability to recognize our emotions until the feelings become intense and overwhelming.
In my house, talking about our emotions and feelings is a priority. Teaching my kids how to sit through and cope with bad emotions is as important as providing them food, clothes, and a roof over their head. My job as a psychiatric PA has allowed me to recognize how difficult life can become for adults who avoid their emotions.
The Yin-Yang of Emotions
My medical practice is geared towards prescribing medication to treat adults with ADHD, depression, and anxiety. I have noticed that most of my patients struggle to cope with negative emotions. They don’t grasp why they should embrace feeling a bad emotion or talk about it. To help them understand I like to use the analogy of the yin yang, which we all know as a balance of good and bad and we recognize that you cannot have one without the other. Emotions are the same way. In order to fully experience good emotions you cannot avoid the opposite negative emotion. You will never feel true peace, if you cannot tolerate feeling scared just as you will never be blessed with intense feelings of joy if you cannot sit through feelings of sadness.
The Emotion Wheel
After discussing the yin yang I like to show them the emotion wheel. It is a wonderful illustration of emotions and their polar opposites. It looks like this:
I have found that most of my adult patients are able to identify the emotions at the center of the wheel. However they get flustered when attempting to branch out from the center. They find it frustrating and overwhelming to cope with emotions they cannot name, it is like a missing puzzle piece that makes it difficult to see the full picture. When you don’t know what you are up against it is hard to cope. So many people feel overwhelmed by emotions they cannot name, but due to no fault of their own.
Our Culture of Not Feeling
Unfortunately, our culture has left so many of us devoid of emotional knowledge and sophistication. As a child I remember learning about the importance of taking care of our bodies. We were taught to eat nutritious food, get enough sleep, and exercise daily. However no one ever taught me about emotional health and wellness . No one ever explained that emotional wellness has a profound effect on physical wellness.
My Hope For My Children
It is my hope that by the time my children head off to college they are able to recognize and sit through each one of these emotions. I will not only teach them to brush their teeth and take care of their physical bodies, but I will also teach them the importance of good emotional health. What about you? Do you teach your children about emotions? How well do you think you label emotions?
To learn more I recommend reading this article, How well do you know yourself.