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Keeping it all in... and learning this from a young age

Yesterday, my six year old son, Aydin, who is still recovering from a cold and feeling more tired/cranky than usual, drank a spoonful of boiling hot soup and burned his tongue and throat. He told me "Mama, it hurts!" and then turned away from me to lean against the sink. I told him to look at me but he refused and continued looking away. On closer inspection, I saw he was crying silently and didn’t want anyone to see him.

This broke my heart into so many pieces … I gathered him up despite his protests and held him protectively in the cocoon of my arms. If at that moment I could have burned my own mouth and throat to take his pain away, I would have.

One of the things I have noticed with being blessed with a boy and a girl is how differently they react to the world around them. It could be due to their personalities, the characteristics of their sex or just how they react to every action but it is definitely very noticeable.

If children are so different in their experiences and how they react to them, adults must be even more so. We have a large pool of environmental conditioning, personal experiences, genetics and a number of other things to learn from.

Based on this knowledge, it becomes imperative that each and every interaction we have with another person is more objective and less colored by our past. It also means we need to step back and essentially take a time out if we are feeling angry, frustrated or hurt as that can color our tone and words.

Finally, we must learn to be open in our emotions and not hide behind a mask afraid that if people see the real us, it will make us too vulnerable. That fear can extend to any type of feelings and can cause mental trauma and damage relationships.

Three basic principles that help me in dealing with my emotions are:

  1. Imagine how the conversation will go if you talk to/ confront someone while not feeling your best. Imagine all the possible extreme outcomes and evaluate whether they are worth it to you or not.

  2. Learn to let it go or return to it later when you are not experiencing such strong emotions. A day or two makes a huge difference in your feelings.

  3. Try to be as open as you can in your feelings. Sometimes the hardest thing to say is how you actually feel… we prefer instead to attack others than say how something made us feel.

As for my son, we made a pinky promise to always allow ourselves to cry, even if it means hiding in a corner for a while. But we also made a promise to then talk about what made him cry so we could make sure it never happens again.

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