Handling Difficult Emotions

Thich Nhat Hanh likened emotions to a storm.  A storm comes, stays for some time and then it goes.  An emotion, too, comes, stays for awhile and then it goes.

When experiencing difficult emotions, Thich Nhat Hanh writes that your head is like the top of a tree in a storm.  It is not suggested you stay there.  Instead, bring your attention to the trunk of the tree where there is stability, your belly and your breathing for ten or fifteen minutes.  (Be Free Where You Are, Thich Nhat Hanh)

I used to be very skeptical of breathing exercises, however I found that paying attention to my breath or just paying attention to my surroundings- what I see or hear, or just focusing on drinking a glass of water or tea can truly help.  It can be difficult due to our old habits and patterns that direct us to do what we have always done.

I decided to test this out for one day, trying to be aware of when difficult emotions were present and taking a ten minute break by focusing on my breathing and my surroundings.  It was difficult to give it a full ten minutes, and to be honest, in the beginning I could not, but even a few minutes made a difference.  After one day I was amazed at how my emotions shifted.  I decided to keep at it, and over time my patterns and habits have shifted.  I still struggle at times, but I am truly grateful for this tool.

For those that despise breathing exercises or just can’t focus on breathing, the five senses mindfulness exercise might be for you.  It is simply stopping and focusing on your five senses one at a time.  This too can make a huge difference if you enter it in a couple times a day.

Cassidy finding her way…

Recently, my daughter began struggling with making sense of death.  She was asking a lot of questions, which were troublingly difficult to answer.  She asked about what happened to her Papa and if he took an airplane up to heaven.  When we we both had sore throats she was perfectly happy to say we would both die and go to see Papa.  These ideas were disturbing to me, but I answered to them all and was present to discuss them.

Cassidy’s struggles also included some difficulty with transitions and some regression as we had another death in the family, my brother in law’s father.  I decided to include her preschool in working with Cassidy.  The school utilized books and other available topics to help Cassidy gain an understanding of this topic.  I also created a “Big Girl Sticker Chart” to inspire Cassidy to return to her regular routine.

The chart is a life saver and had more perks than I thought.  Cassidy is not only doing better, but amazing manners have surfaced as they have appeared on the chart.  Honestly a few times I thought I would faint! 🙂  I made it out of an old piece of cardboard, some paper and created the catagories on the computer.  Super simple!   We change things up and the chart starts on Tuesday as the rewards happen on Tuesday, one of my days off.   The rewards are simple and fun and I get the reward too as we spend the time together!

I love this poem by Patricia Lynn Reilly…

Imagine a Woman II

Imagine a woman who is interested in her own life.

A woman who embraces her life as teacher, healer, and challenge. Who is grateful for the ordinary moments of beauty and grace.

Imagine a woman who participates in her own life.

A woman who meets each challenge with creativity.

Who takes action on her own behalf with clarity and strength.

Imagine a woman who has crafted a fully-formed solitude.

A woman who is available to herself.

Who chooses friends and lovers with the capacity to respect her solitude.

Imagine a woman who acknowledges the full range of human emotion.

A woman who expresses her feelings clearly and directly.

Who allows them to pass through her as naturally as the breath.

Imagine a woman who tells the truth.

A woman who trusts her experience of the world and expresses it.

Who refuses to defer to the perceptions, thoughts, and responses of others.

Imagine a woman who follows her creative impulses.

A woman who produces original creations.

Who refuses to color inside someone else’s lines.

Imagine a woman who has relinquished the desire for intellectual approval.

A woman who makes a powerful statement with every action she takes.

Who asserts to herself the right to reorder the world.

Imagine a woman who has grown in knowledge and love of herself.

A woman who has vowed faithfulness to her own life.

Who remains loyal to herself. Regardless.

Imagine yourself as this woman.