Managing Emotions for a Happier Life
Would you like your relationships at home, at work, your friendships, parents, teachers etc.… to improve? Here are some practical tips on how to keep track of your own and/or your children’s emotions and how to manage it better to improve family life.
One of the most important skills to develop is good communication. Communication affects every aspect of our lives and with good communication, family life will drastically improve.
In my family, while growing up, we never learned to properly communicate. I had a happy life and my parents were involved and they did their best, but when it came to acknowledging your emotions and talking about feelings, I really don’t have much to refer back to. Especially negative emotions, they were to be buried away. Because both my parents did not like confrontation, they avoided it as much as possible and never spoke up when issues arose but kept it all inside. This is a problem for children because they need to learn by example. I did not see this modelled in my home life and only learned to communicate properly after I got married. I am very fortunate to have a very patient and loving husband, who had parents who did teach him how to communicate, and over the years he taught me.
In this article, I would like to give you some tools on how to start communicating or maybe just sharpening your skills and tips on how to convey this to your children.
Communication starts with the individual
Communication is not a trait that some people possess and others not, there are contributing factors of course, but it can be learned and practised by anyone. It will be easier for some than others, considering different personalities, but it’s something every person should aspire to become better at, as it affects your whole life.
Communicating what you are feeling is a challenge for most people, but it can lead to a very rewarding personal life and relationships.
- Your relationship with yourself is very important, understanding yourself better will help you to communicate your feelings to those around you in a positive way.
- You need to be able to identify your emotions by acknowledging and accepting them
- and giving it a name.
This requires some self-awareness that can be learnt through practice.
Doing an exercise like this can especially be very helpful for teenagers. They are at a stage in their lives where they need to start navigating through a very confusing world of emotions, and this can help them make sense of it and give them the necessary tools to handle it better.
Practical Exercise for the Family
Put a whiteboard up in the house to write on, have everyone write down every morning in their own time and in their own words:
- How they are feeling, by writing the name of their emotion down.
- Why they are feeling this way.
- What they are going to do about it.
We put a board up on the fridge which is marked with every day of the week, here is an example:
This is just what we found works for us, please be creative and adjust it to your family’s needs.
- This exercise teaches self-awareness by requiring you to stop and think about how you are feeling and giving that specific emotion a name. It is important to be specific and honest. For this to work, you need to create an emotionally safe space for everyone. Smaller children can also get involved in this exercise, it could be a good idea to put up an emotion chart next to the writing board for them, with examples of different emotions to help them identify their own feelings. There are many such charts available on the internet, make sure that you use an age-appropriate chart.
- This exercise also teaches that you are not a victim of your emotions but that you can take control and regulate your emotions by deciding to do what needs to be done so you can feel better or differently. There is no need to have a bad day!
“There is no need to have a bad day!”
- It will most probably be easier to acknowledge and accept feeling positive emotions like excitement, pride, happiness and joy. Negative emotions will most probably be a bit more difficult to acknowledge and write down to share with everyone. It is okay to feel negative emotions. What is very important is to acknowledge these emotions and to accept that you are feeling them, so that you can express them instead of suppressing them. A suppressed emotion never goes away, even if you don’t think about it, it’s still there and still needs to be dealt with. The sooner the better.
“A suppressed emotion never goes away, even if you don’t think about it, it’s still there...”
- This allows you as a parent to address certain issues should it be necessary. It can also be a fun discussion in the evenings at dinner, ask everyone how their day went and if they managed to do what they said they wanted to do about their emotion on the board. In so doing we can learn from each other’s experiences and support each other.
- This also promotes problem-solving skills, finding solutions to problems as soon as they arise, instead of ignoring emotions until they build up and are expressed in explosive ways. There is nothing I hate more than to walk on eggshells around a grumpy person. It is so much better to get things out in the open, talk about it and take the necessary steps in order to move on.
Be supportive and encouraging towards each other and if necessary, help someone else find the name for their emotion if they are struggling. Do not give it to them, rather guide them through the situation they are in with a short conversation or ask some questions and let them find the answer for themselves.