13. Every experience we have in life is an opportunity to learn something, especially when we fee strong emotions around that experience. Think of our world as a “Giant School.” Each one of us is here in order to learn, which we do by having, and working with, experiences. Experiences that are the most powerful for us (and hold the greatest potential for learning) are those that involve strong emotions. Think of it this way: “The stronger the emotion, the more important the lesson.” Parents help their children by showing how to pay attention to emotion-rich experiences. By starting at an early age, you equip him or her with effective tools for a lifetime.
14. Stopping and listening to what we’re feeling helps us keep emotions moving, the way energy is supposed to, so it doesn’t pile up and overwhelm us. We live in a very busy world! When we add to daily personal experiences the distractions offered by cell phones, computers, and social media, children will be enticed to be involved with something almost every waking minute. Life, however, is guided from the inside; so it’s vital that kids learn to stop and listen—to themselves! Value your own, and your child’s emotions. Stop and listen together, helping your kids to complete the lessons in their experience and freeing emotions to leave. You’ll be giving them a priceless and valuable present.
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15. Some emotions are “real” and some are “synthetic.” Real emotions have both positive and negative aspects; synthetic emotions have only negative. It’s important to teach kids that “all emotions are not equal.” We want them to pay attention to the “real” emotions and give little attention to the “synthetic” emotions. Anger is a real emotion, because it has the negative side we all know, yet it also pushes us to take action, which is positive. Guilt (different from regret, remorse or conscience) is synthetic, because it has only negative to offer us. Guilt, in fact, is a hidden form of anger. No one can really work with guilt, the way you can with anger or love. You just have to find a way to drop it (almost impossible). Yet, when we isolate the anger behind our feelings of guilt, we can work with that and take ourselves to a freer place. When you give guilt little attention (recognizing it’s not a “real” emotion), it will atrophy and drop away. We “Pay attention, not to what we want to overcome, but to what we want to become.” It is possible not to “do” guilt!
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16. Emotional work is the hardest work there is. From decades of ignoring and repressing our emotions, we have come to the place of finding emotions “embarrassing” or “signs of weakness.” Nothing can be further from the truth. A person has to be really strong to allow him or her self to feel emotions and face their message. Parents, tell your children “You are strong when you let yourself feel and work with your emotions.” Consider asking your child to make a decision, as early as 6 or 7 years old, about whether s/he intends to stay connected to emotions as an adult, or is willing to push them down or away. The decisions we make during childhood are very powerful and enduring.