He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit, than he who captures a city. Proverbs 16:32
Home is supposed to be a safe place where we can be ourselves, warts and all. Although I’ve tried and succeeded in creating that safe space for my family, I’ve made an enormous mistake in defining how that works.
I’m one of those people you’ll never see mad in public. I’m a people pleaser: I don’t want to risk hurting or offending anyone. It’s far easier to swallow my anger than it is to apologize for it after the fact.
It’s a whole different story in private. In the safety of my own home, I’ve taken great pride in letting my emotions fly. I want my kids to see that life is hard sometimes; I have my fair share of struggles; and emotions need to be worked through in order to be let go.
The mistake I’ve made is teaching my kids that it’s okay to let our emotions rule us. I honestly believe it’s a mistake society is making as a whole.
In the campaign to “acknowledge and honor our feelings,” a lot of us have transferred our power to our feelings. We’ve raised them up and used them as the excuse for bad behavior and choices.
It’s taken us back to toddler-hood. It may look a little bit different, but we’re still grabbing toys from others just because we want them. We’re hitting others because they hit us first. And we’re kicking and screaming when we don’t get our way.
Just because our feelings get hurt, we don’t have the right to be unkind to another. Just because we’re having a bad day, doesn’t give us permission to fall head-first into our vices to feel better. Just because we’re tired and unmotivated doesn’t make it okay to shirk our responsibilities and let people down. That’s not working through our emotions; That’s using our emotions as a crutch.
Working through our emotions means facing them head on, maturely. First, it’s putting them on ice while we cool down. It’s turning to physical activity to blow off steam. Once our emotions aren’t so escalated, it’s asking ourselves all the necessary “whats.” What happened that triggered the emotion? What was the part we played in the triggering? What’s the change we need to make for it to not happen again?
Those answers are critical. They teach us whether we do need to make a change, the offender needs to be called out, or we need to distance ourselves from the one who hurt us. They teach us to come up with healthy ways to self-sooth on the days that don’t go our way. They teach us to go to bed earlier and recommit to a strong work ethic, just because they’re the right things to do.
Most importantly, we need to elevate the golden rule of “love one another” well above the love of self. When we start thinking more about others, and less about ourselves, it naturally reorders things, putting our emotions in their proper place.
Questions for Reflection:
* Do I allow my emotions to rule me?
* If so, what changes can I make to take back the control and work through them in a healthy way?