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New Emotional Well-Being Series

Emotions are a crucial part of our lives, yet are not taught in schools nor many families. They are more often repressed, avoided, numbed, fixed and generally misunderstood. Many of our biggest parenting challenges come from our difficulties working with our and our kids emotions. Thankfully, we don’t have to stay stuck. To get a better understanding of emotions we’re beginning a new series to explore and develop emotional well-being!

Each of these posts will have both a video and a written video summary, so you can read or watch according to preference. These videos were originally recorded on my Facebook page, so you’ll hear me mention that. The other thing you’ll hear about is our 5 Steps to Connect community. If you are interested in that you can find out more here.

What Is Emotional Well-Being and How Can We Develop it?

By Allison Livingston

Doesn’t everyone want more emotional well-being? It is something I’m fascinated with and also have struggled with as emotions were never taught to me growing up. At school we were supposed to fit in and be good, cooperate plus do well. We were not encouraged to express frustration or anger, but rather repress it or ‘fix it’ and fall back into line. In my family, we didn’t talk about them or show them if at all possible, especially anger, shame, sadness, embarrassment. We numbed or shamed emotions, and the message I got was avoid them at all costs. They were so uncomfortable, why do that?! Once when I asked my dad about feelings, he replied from his wonderful engineering perspective, “They aren’t logical.” The implied message was, they weren’t valuable or useful.

Once my daughter was born, flowing with every emotion possible, I was out of my depth and often triggered. I needed help and embarked on a 15 year journey to reclaim my emotional flow and understanding of how to have the emotional well-being I craved.

What is emotional well-being?

Emotions rule our lives and motivate us. I learned from Non-Violent Communication (NVC) and Paul and Eve Ekman in Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center that they guide us to what is most important, our values. They are crucial and part of our biology, yet we numb, repress, avoid and rationalize them whenever we can. They are so uncomfortable! I hate feeling uncertain, overwhelmed, afraid, and ashamed, why do that?!? How do you do that and have well-being?!?

I developed strategies to stay in my head to avoid feeling emotions. Brene Brown calls this our armor. My primary armor is a script that asks, “Am I doing what is right? Am I doing what is good?” My habit was to continually judge and evaluate, curtailing myself to follow these scripts in order to be safe and do well, instead of feel. 

While evaluating is an important facet of our brain to be able to get along and manage life, I had taken it too far. I discovered that in a family we need to be able to be in flow and not pretend nor hide parts of ourselves. NVC and Paul and Eve Ekman have