Your Emotions Are Not Mine
I have several family members on facebook and I noticed something alarming-the ones actively involved in their childrenís bad choices/drama all looked older or suffered physical ailments. Iím sure this is terribly politically incorrect, but I observed that the parents who didnít live physically close to their children, or who had children making good choices looked healthy. Now I am not talking about young parents, I am talking about parents of adult children, parents of grown folk, with children-grandparents. What I observed was that the ones keenly involved in their kidís screw-ups; physically paid the price.
Of course with parenting you do your best and the result is based on the choices the child makes. Iíve watched families and I know itís a flip of the coin: do your best and the kid makes great choices or do your best and the kid makes bad choices. The key here is that it is the childís choice.
As a young mother early on I found myself absorbing my childrenís feelings. The baby cries or worst screams propelling you to try and solve the problem. What you donít realize is that while you are scrambling to make things right for your baby you are consuming those detrimental emotions. Iíve spent years trying to make things right for my kids, soaking up stress without realizing the cost. The odd thing is I kept ingesting their emotions while trying to solve their problems in vain, because the truth is the problems are theirs not mine. The emotions are my childrenís, not mine. Eventually there comes a time when you have to stop and let your children be adults. You must quit and tell yourself that their emotions are their emotions, not yours. This is not easy to do because if you are like me you love your children enormously and you are actively involved in their lives. I have high hopes and want nothing less than the best for them, and letís face it letting go is difficult. But as I look at photos of these women I love and admire I realize that they failed to distance themselves from the poor choices and repercussions of their kidís choices. They are still absorbing their childrenís emotions. But before you think this is all about kids choices, work with me here and take it a step further, it pertains to anyone you love and care about.
I tend to soak up the emotions of every one I love. I know that sounds weird but if I love you and you are having a bad day I will also feel bad, my emotions will mirror yours. It took me years to realize this because instead of fostering my own emotions I would be echoing those of the people I love. I think Momís fall into this vicious cycle simply caring for the needs of their family and suddenly you realize that you are being tossed to and fro in an ocean of everyone elseís emotions. This is bad and all I can say is that one day I figured it out and as my loved ones encountered challenges I would say to myself ďDonna their emotions are not yours.Ē Frankly I had to say this over and over because I wanted to just crawl in there and wallow in their crisis. Which in a verbose sort of way brings me to my main point, you must love people without allowing their emotions to become your own. You must love people and let them to make their own choices, face their own challenges, struggle, suffer, hurt and grow without you yourself living in the pain. You must disconnect. Back to my observation: the healthy seniors that I know have found a way to emotionally differentiate between the choices their loved ones make and emotions they feel. They donít love them any less but they chose not to feel the intensity of the negative learning emotions. For me this doesnít come naturally. If I love you, I instinctively want to jump into your problems and solve them, I naturally find my stomach tied in knots when you face challenges, but I am working to mindfully differentiate between other peopleís emotions and mine. This doesnít mean I love people any less, but I fill my tank with my emotions, not theirs.
Since this was all about family I have to say my family is awesome and here are some photo's of us celebrating Ryan's 24th birthday.