I sat listening to two men talk about raising white tail deer. One of these men was very passionate about this endeavor and you could tell it by what he said and especially how he was saying it. I listened to another person talk about how excited she gets at Christmas. She spoke with glee about decorating her house, hosting parties, and giving special gifts. Again, her whole mood just became so positive and her complete body was telling the story.
I so envy people who are able to get that excited and passionate about things. I was raised in a culture where my feelings were to be suppressed. Extreme displays of any kind of emotion were discouraged. At least it seemed like that. Loosing oneself in the moment could lead to some kind of catastrophic consequence that would be so horrific it might take a life time to recover. Thus, I might be leaping for joy, deeply saddened, or seething with anger, but you will hardly know it.
This was all set up while I was young and still developing an understanding of who I was and what was “acceptable” behavior. I remember a coach criticizing our football team because we got too excited during our pregame warm up. I was scolded for expressing any kind of disagreement with my parents. It was labeled as “arguing” which meant I was to have no voice on many matters that directly affected me. I remember being made fun of by those close to me because I expressed my compassion for someone with tears.
It is amazing how the messages we perceive from the past directly affects who we become. Sometimes I think most of our journey as adults is correcting all the harmful messages we received about ourselves as children.
Now, I am older and this training of how to express emotions is like a heavy coat I wear daily. I have been at ballgames and wished that I could yell at the top of my lungs. I have been in worship when my heart was leaping with joy and my arms felt like they were tied to my sides. I have even been so angry with someone that I took it out on myself by pushing the emotion down and stuffing it.
So, why am I bringing this up? Please encourage your children to experience all of their emotions to the fullest. Yes, they do need to be aware of when and how to express them appropriately, but I hope they are encouraged to feel. It is only through expressing our thoughts and emotions are we able to learn how to manage them effectively. Let them feel deeply and be allowed to experiment in their expression of those feelings. I think this is one of the most important gifts a parent can give as they teach their children how to live life to its fullest. A lesson I am still learning
Thanks for this Wib, it brings back the memory of christmas as a 7 or 8 year old boy when my father was fumbling for the house keys after returning from chritmas eve service and I was so excited I kept saying “oh boy santa’s been here hurry dad !” and about the 2nd time I asked him , he turned and slapped my face. and from that moment on I never expressed true joy in front of my father… later in life of course I understood that he had been upset that I expressed more joy about the presents awaiting us than the real reason for Christmas, and in his defense it was the only time he ever did.