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Musings for Healing

Panjoyah's Sharings
Love, Family, & Other Things
Strong Emotions Around Children

Acceptance versus unacceptance makes all the difference in how expressed emotion feels to the expresser and others nearby. To truly accept emotion, one must cultivate a general understanding that the emotion s/he's feeling is theirs, not the "fault" of somebody else. Pure expression doesn't "act out" in fights, words, threats or destruction. Pure emotional expression of hurt, rage, terror, or grief, is in wordless sound and tears, exerting minimal control on what sounds are released and maximal control on act-out behaviours.

Belief systems around emotional healing get passed down through the generations, and one major belief is that strong emotions need to be hidden from children so as to not damage them. This belief has, in part, arisen from how emotions traditionally have been expressed: wild, blaming fights between parents, the destruction of property, threatening and controlling rage in the form of words delivered directly in the faces of children, etc. The emotions in these cases are "breaking loose"; that is, overcoming the inner restraints on their expression with the strength of their pent-up charge. Since in countless cases there is no acceptance for loud emotion taking any form at all, with the unspoken inner mandate to hold back if at all possible, these emotions are literally expressing unacceptably. The people involved are acting out the emotions instead of directly expressing their charge with self-acceptance.

Children take in many subtle messages from their parents' behavior, always learning even when we don't know they are. They also don't have the filters we have taken on, and can detect emotional subtleties we adults are not privy to. When we hold back a strong emotion because we judge that to be safer in their presence, we are teaching denial of emotional expression when emotions rise, and they take that in very specifically from all the cues and clues from their parents.

Next time you are angry, even if your child is the trigger, consider turning away from the child and expressing the sound in grunts or wordless yells. S/he will likely be afraid or triggered also, it's alright. Let them have these feelings to you in response, and model healthy expression of your emotions instead of modelling denial or unhealthy expression. In the right moment, in and around your expression, release judgments out loud, in words, as to how much this is going to damage your child and make everything worse, as well as any other judgments you can release about your emotional expression. Children "get" our intent, and if at first they reflect your non-acceptance of your own emotional expression (children being inherently reflective of parental denials and judgments) they will shift if you can be consistent and come to accept your own appropriate existence as an emotionally flowing human.

Sometimes emotional expression needs to start in words. One key is to turn your body away from the child and stay in words only as long as necessary to get to the "primal" level of pure sound underneath. Go to another room if preferable, and close the door. If they want to come in, let them determine the distance from you and your expression that feels right to them. Don't deny yourself emotionally in favor of them if at all possible.

Anger and terror can subtly act out in the form of unnecessarily controlling our children. Sometimes adult emotional expression is called for instead of enforcing compliance with a heavy commanding energy. The more emotional responsibility we can model for our children, the greater responsibility and freedom they will manifest and be able to model for the world they inherit.

I am currently working on expanding these articles into a book, which I would prefer to self-publish for many reasons. If the material resonates for you and you would like to support its birthing process by making a donation to help cover publishing expenses, ask questions, make a comment or simply get on the mailing list, please contact me at Donations can be made to that address via StormPay, or to IntGold ID 12022. Thanks for reading!

Peter Cloud Panjoyah, British Columbia, May 2004

All material copyright 1997-2004 Panjoyah

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