I had a chance to listen to Brene Brown's podcasts recently which I love. I got so many a-ha ideas that I'm wanting to share with you!
The first is related to interactions with my younger daughter who's a freshman in college. She is experiencing her first time living away from home along with all of its security and comfort. She feels stressed and anxious about being left out of friend groups as well her intense school workload for nursing.
It is agonizing for me to see her struggle and in pain. I want to take it away. Fix it. Drive 11 hours and beat up those 'mean' girls who are excluding her. But the rub is, I want to do this so I'm no longer feeling uncomfortable and in pain as much as to support her! I also don't want to feel vulnerable.
Herein lies the crux of being human. Feeling hurt, pain and anxiety is excruciating! It's actually designed this way to get our attention. To let us know something matters, that we have an unmet need.
But instead of experiencing this, most of us have learned to numb, control, blame or otherwise avoid this discomfort. We get stuck in the pain cycle. In the short term, we may feel relief, but this breaks the link pointing to our needs.
So next time you feel stressed or angry or hurt or even depressed, invite yourself to stay there. Exactly there.
Notice where in your body you are experiencing the emotional energy. Jaw? Belly? Tight muscles? Move and pay attention to it. Ask what the stress or the anger or the hurt wants to tell you?
What matters? What need are you yearning for? Power in your world? Ease? To be seen? Consideration? Acceptance? (For ideas, download the list at the bottom of this post.)
We learn faster when we engage, so journal or tell a friend any, "I can't wait to try this...or Yeah, but..." plus let me know what insights you have.
So now when my daughter calls and she's upset, I have a reminder post-it: "Don't fix her, she's not broken. She has a big feeling and an unmet need."
With this in mind I am much better able to validate and reflect her inner experience. Then instead of inadvertently making it about me and my discomfort or a problem to be fixed, we can both focus on hearing her inner knowings.
Using the 5 Steps To Connect Framework gives me the best shot I know of to connect with my wholehearted self so I can connect with others in my life. This framework supports me to choose and practice connection parenting. It may be messy, but it's real and brimming with life.
So sometime today, pause and ask: 'What am I feeling? What is it wanting me to know? What need matters right now?' (see list below for support.)
Pro tip: to start knowing, be curious about sensations in your body; these point to your feelings, which guide you to your needs.
Don't forget to share to cement the learning by journaling, talking to a friend/partner or commenting.