Coping skill #3
That saying became one often repeated in my house last fall and winter, when I had the unique priviledge of living old-school with my baby brother (17 years younger), sister-in-law and almost 2 year-old nephew. They moved in while some work was being done on their home. We quickly settled into a rhythm, found ways to accomplish what we needed to and worked together to contribute to the greater good of an intergenerational household…ultimately, inter-generational living was one of the best things that happened to us…more on that later. Back to the 2 year-old. On the regular, we encouraged Harry to help us understand what he was feeling or needing by “using his words”. It occured to me that this is probably a helpful lesson for us all right now.
Each of us is a unique creature. No two of us having had the same life experiences, and no two of us having the same basis for interacting with each other, even those we are closest to. Some of us are better communicators than others, some of us better listeners, some of us (including me) are co-dependent (not wanting/knowing how to ask, offending or infringing) in our relationships. All of those things can make for non or even unproductive interactions with each other.
So I thought I’d share some things I’ve learned about communicating.
#1 Emotions are contagious
We’ve all been there…we’ve been actively engaged in light, lively upbeat conversation in a room with others, the door opens and someone enters. They’re wearing their feelings on their sleeve and before they even say a word, their body language creates a chain reaction – almost like a dart hitting a balloon deflating it instantaneously – the mood of the room deflates, we deflate and we’re left unsure about what to do next. Conversely, we’ve also all been in a room, and the door swings open we sense a grand moment, and in walks that person who lives in a pertual state of bliss (the cute boy for sure), and instantly the balloon is inflated and the mood of the entire room and everyone in it is lifted. And, we know what to do next – we’re drawn to that energy like a moth to light.
We can’t help it, we “wear” how we are feeling.
#2 What we’re feeling
Much like Harry I also find myself challenged to find my words. For me, I just lost touch with being able to quantify and connect the feeling to the emotion. The picture of my sister-in-law is rather easy to assess – she’s not so happy about that last shot of tequila. Sometimes we’re harder to read…and leaving the interpretation to the observer just sets us all up for failure. So the next time you’re feeling off, try closing your eyes and taping into what’s happening in your body. Are you agitated? Are you happy? Are you anxious? Are you excited? Are you uncertain? Are you hopeful? Are you scared? Are you loved? Then, what I do next is close my eyes and try to tap into what the physical manifestation of that feeling. Has my heart and/or breathing rate picked up? Are my palms clamly? Once there’s awareness, then I have learned to self-soothe (Harry uses his “lovey”) by engaging in deep breathing. Slow count of 10 in, slight pause and slow count of 10 out. After a couple of rounds of this, I am better equipped to identify what it is, why it is and begin to find my words.
After I’ve identified that, then I decide how best to commuicate. These “words” can be challenging to verbalize…especially in uncertain times. If you find verbalizing them too difficult, try texting or writing them. I’m anxious…I’m scared…I need some space…KNOW that whatever you are feeling is real…don’t deny it, just try to find a way to let those that care about and for you in on what you are experiencing so you don’t leave them trying to figure out what to do next.
In loving kindness and until next time.