9. Emotions are part of us; they are not “us”. We get to be in charge of them, because they work for us, and not vice versa. People often say that emotions “came out of the blue.” Or, “I’m Irish; we always have bad tempers.” They say “I did that because I’m mad; and I can’t help myself.” They label emotions “mine”—“my anger, my hurt, my fear, my pain, my jealousy”—as if those emotions were a favorite pet. Emotions are designed as tools, not astyrants over which we have no control. Emotions are designed to bring us information, learning, and life-navigation help. We humans have lost sight of the fact that emotions work for us, and not vice versa!
10. No one can “make us feel” a particular emotion. Whenever a person has an experience, s/he has a choice about how to react. If someone’s actions hurt my feelings, I can choose to feel sad, angry, hurt--or to laugh. My choice! I do this easily when I am Emotionally Literate, and maintain authority over the emotions I experience. Parents can assist kids to learn this. We do this by showing kids the most beneficial ways to perceive and interpret what happens.
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11. Emotions are not designed to be held onto. Once they give us their message, we need to turn them loose, so we’re free to get on with our life. The other animals in the world don’t hold onto emotions. If they get angry because another animal encroaches on their territory, they react strongly. Once the other animal leaves, however, they go back to living their lives, the upset over. Humans ruminate, build a case about the encroacher, or feed their own beliefs with thoughts such as “everybody picks on me” (which sustains a belief in being a Victim). Parents can teach kids to release emotions, once felt, their message registered, and any necessary change in direction has been made. A great way with younger kids is to blow up a balloon, putting angry, hurt or upset feelings into it with every breath, then release the balloon, to fly all over the outdoors and tickle the funny-bone!
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12. There is no such thing as a negative emotion. “Negative emotions” are emotions that have been held inside too long, giving them an opportunity to grow into something intense, like anger grows into hate and resentment, ready to explode violently when given opportunity. Emotions are “positive,” if merely because each one is a messenger, signaling us 24/7, like a loyal friend, helping us make decisions that are right for us. Helping your child learn to value all emotions will lead him or her to a fuller, freer life.