How to Process Emotions during this Challenging Time Without Reacting from Fear or Frustration
Child Behavioral Counselor / Mom
Are you ready for an emotional detox? During this time of crisis, when people are listening to the news nonstop about the Coronavirus and are socially isolated, we can become overwhelmed and stressed. Parents trying to work from home while children complain about being bored, or they have a question, or need have urgent needs and can’t wait can add to the stress and lead to frustration. Given the situation, it’s easy to be stressed, overwhelmed, and over-reactive. What do I mean by over-reactive? When we overreact, we react defensively or take things personally. We may feel like we are being criticized or judged. Instead of being over-reactive, we all have a choice to express our feelings differently. I just finished reading a book called, “Emotional Detox: 7 Steps to Release Toxicity and Energize Joy,” by Sherianna Boyle.
She talks about how to become less reactive and tune into our feelings, our raw emotions, and work through them rather than ignore them or pretend they aren’t there. With a four-year-old at home, while trying to work, I can’t say that I haven’t been reactive at times. (double negative sentence?) What I do notice is that my four- year old mirrors my behavior. I say I have a lot of work to do when she wants me to play with her. When I ask her to pick up her toys, she responds by saying she has a lot of work to do. When I complain a lot, I notice that when she is playing with her dolls, she complains a lot through her narrative play or complains when I ask her to do something. Children are our mirrors.
Check out below some of these examples, Sherianna shares. Some of these may seem familiar.
What does a reactive state look like?
✓ Resisting feeling or pushing away ideas because you don’t agree with them
✓ Putting high expectations or pressure on yourself
✓ Thinking or talking about how upset you are.
✓ Being quick to answer or appease others (ex: “I’m fine”)
✓ Being resentful, wanting to get back at someone because you feel hurt
✓ Comparing yourself to others
✓ Protecting or bracing yourself for the worst
✓ Expecting loss or conflict
✓ Chronically complaining
✓ Shutting down or closing off
Here is a list of how people avoid their emotions
• Being sarcastic
• Always trying
• Expecting others to know what they want and need
• Taking part in drama by arguing or defending
• Rehashing the past
• Staying excessively busy
• Keeping score or a “what Have you done for me lately?” attitude.
A Better Way to Communicate Perhaps?
You’re ten minutes late.
You never notice what I do well.
I do everything around here.
When you arrive on time, it makes me feel like you care.
Thank you for appreciating my dinner.
How I am feeling right now is overwhelmed and frustrated.
We have a choice to perpetuate the situation by tuning into the fear that surrounds this situation. Or take the time to go inward and tune into yourself, feel your emotions (body sensations) and work through them to find your inner peace and calmness. I’m a single mother and working from home right now with a four-year-old is a struggle. I can’t take a relaxing bath in peace. I feel frustrated. My daughter feels like she is not getting enough attention. Does a four-year-old ever feel like they get enough attention?
Mom: “Mommy just needs some alone time to take a hot bath and relax.”
4Yro: “But mommy, I love you so much. I want to be with you all the time.”
Mom: “Ok, but if you’re going to be in the bathroom, then you will have to wait quietly, or if you want to sing, then, please go outside of the bathroom.”
4Yro: “Ok, mommy.” Ten seconds go by, and she’s throwing her bath toys in, singing, undressed, and ready to get in.
Mom: “Can you give me 3 minutes.”
4Yro: “How will I know when 3 minutes is up? Should I go get the timer?”
Mom: “I’ll let you know.”
At this point, I was pretty frustrated and wanted to react in not such a nice way; I had been working all day, just finished dinner and cleaning up. All I wanted to do is take a RELAXING bath…and it wasn’t. I wanted to react, but I kept calm and expressed how it made me feel when I tell her I need some time to myself and that it makes me feel frustrated when she doesn’t respect that. At this time, when families are home, and kids are climbing the walls, siblings are arguing, significant others are on your last nerve, knowing how to respond rather than react can be a much-needed strategy to keep the peace around the house. It is a tool in how to communicate effectively with each other, and communication affects all relationships.
“Learning to process our emotions can be like gaining superpowers (Boyle, 2018, p.37).”
During this time, emotions may run high, and it may be hard to keep it together when interacting with your family or friends. Sherianna talks about how an emotional detox, like a physical detox, is needed to cleanse and process our emotions. She describes an emotional detox as a practice, like yoga, meditation, or tai chi. “It is a systematic and mindful way to move through processing your emotions so that you learn, grow, and transform your experiences (Boyle,2018, p.24).” “A parent may yell at a child to get him to stop bothering him. When several people are reacting rather than feeling their emotions, it pollutes the atmosphere of their emotions. These emotions must go somewhere; their bodies and minds become inflamed with excessive over processing leading to high levels of anger or shame. We must work through our emotions through the processing of our whole emotions that we will be able to fully be ourselves (Boyle, 2018, p.75).” For more information on Emotionally Detoxing and her C.L.E.A.N.S.E method, please read her book, Emotional Detox: 7 Steps to Release Toxicity and Energize Joy. You can also check out her C.L.E.A.N.S.E. LAB which offers readers the opportunity to work one-on-one with Sherianna and experience firsthand the spiritual freedom and joy a true Emotional Detox can bring, @ www.cleanselab.net
Find your inner peace. Turn off the T.V., put away your phones and devices, explore your creativity, communicate with your family, do a CreatableMe Course together. Take this time to enjoy your family and the time you have together. Create family time in which you play a game, watch a movie, eat dinner together, or just talk. Yes, we are socially isolated in some ways, but this is also an excellent time to reconnect with those you love. Remember, it’s always our choice in how we chose to see things, and how we respond shapes that for ourselves and our family. Stay safe and take care of yourself and each other.
Boyle, Sherianna. Emotional DETOX: 7 Steps to Release Toxicity and Energize Joy.
New York: Adams Media, 2018. Print.