FINDING FEELINGS

Feelings give you energy. Be in touch with them, express them and you'll feel more energetic.
DID YOU KNOW? Feelings are contagious. Spend time with a depressed person, and you're likely to start feeling sad or tearful. Similarly, an upbeat and joyful person will inspire and excite you. Withholding feelings of anger and sadness make you depressed. That's one of the reasons it's good to be in touch with your feelings. Feelings give you energy. Be in touch with them, express them and you'll feel more energetic. If you're unaware of your feelings or find it hard to express them, you may feel lethargic, numb, tired, or depressed. Even if you aren't aware of having them, suppressed feelings lead to anxiety. Teach children right from the beginning to be comfortable with their feelings, to know how to identify them and also to express them and they are much less likely to be depressed. They will also find it easier to be present in the moment and to learn better.  Many studies show how emotions can either hinder or enhance a child's ability to learn.  Emotional intelligence is something even the education department is starting to take note of. Schools are starting to realise that children need to learn emotional skills to be more aware and connected with both themselves and others. Use these tips to help your kids maximize their emotional intelligence and appropriately express feelings: 1) Acknowledge your child's perspective and show empathy:  We don't have to agree with our child's emotions, but we need to make them feel heard and make sure they know their feelings are legitimate. Remember, children learn empathy by the act of people being empathetic towards them. Saying things like''So, when that and that happened, it made you feel x,y,z' will make them feel understood and heard. Rather than say, 'that's such a silly thing to cry about, stop it now', say, 'I can see you are feeling upset', and empathise with how they're feeling.    2) Allow space for expression: Naming your child's emotions if they can't is essential.  Teach them that a full range of feelings is understandable and part of being human, you also have them.  Through your actions, teach them that emotional life is not dangerous or shameful. This will help them feel less isolated in their emotional world. Get them to learn how to identify different emotions and how to express them. You can do this by playing an emotions game. This involves acting out what different emotions might feel like and the type of scenario that might bring on an emotion. Download a list of emotions from www.listofhumanemotions.com get one person in the family to choose an emotion. Then get another family member to describe what it might feel like, what expression their face would take and what would have to happen to make one feel that way. It's often very funny and a great way to get to know each other on a different level.  3) Listen to your child's feelings: Be a sounding board, this allows your child to let him or her express their feelings, no matter how extreme, without feeding back a negative response. Just listen, stay present, be interested and curious.  Your child will find it easy to heal by staying connected to you during this process. 4) Teach problem solving:  Teach your child a way to deal with strong emotions.  Let them know that it helps to share a difficult feeling with a trusted person. Encourage them to spend time with it, see if they can identify where it comes from. You could even suggest they draw a picture of their feeling, or write about it.  I often see adults who as children weren't acknowledged in any meaningful way by any significant people in their lives.  As a consequence they struggle with relationships and marriages. Because they're accustomed to holding back their emotions, they don't feel comfortable connecting too intimately with their partner or friends.  It's possible, through your own journey of understanding or by connecting with a therapist or psychologist to start removing barriers or fears and take some risks to become emotionally connected and supported by your partner and friends.  This offers much more fulfilling relationships. Human beings are supposed to be living in relationship with one another, not alone. GEORGINA VINTIN deals with relationships on all levels. If you struggle with family, friend or marital relationships or if you have a child struggling to regulate their emotions you can contact her on email: [email protected] or cell: 0724778807. Cape Town ' Centre, Llandudno, Hout Bay. www.systemic-therapist.co.za

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