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Feelings Come and Feelings Go…

May 9, 2013

Repeat after me….

It is safe to feel my feelings. It is safe to feel my feelings. It is safe to feel my feelings.

Feelings are not permanent.

Feelings come and feelings go.

Ride the feelings wave…it comes in…it goes out….

So many of the children I see in my office have a phobia of feelings. Some kids are so afraid of feelings they stop feeling. These kids usually fall under the radar, not making too much trouble or drawing too much attention to themselves until it gets harder and harder to stop the feelings, and they start to turn to risky behaviors to numb out the feelings…sex, drinking, drugs, cutting….etc. Other kids can’t tolerate feelings so they cover up those feelings with MAD. Or HUGE EXPLOSIONS. Or lots of silly. Anything and everything to distract from the feeling.

But you know what? There are also a lot of adults who want to avoid feelings.

I hear comments and questions like “How can I keep him from getting mad?” Or “I just hope she doesn’t feel sad about this.”

Momma, what is the fear? Are you afraid of the feeling? Or of the behavior that covers up the feeling? Or both? Watching our children suffer is so hard. We would love to whisk away the sad or hurt. I clearly remember the first time my son cried tears of pure anguish. It was excruciating.

Let’s get comfortable with feelings. It is OK to feel mad. It is not OK to hurt people. It is OK to feel sad. I will hold. I’m here for you.

Did you know that on average, feelings last about 90 seconds? In the middle of a big feeling, 90 seconds is a LONG time. But still. It’s only 90 seconds. Allow yourself to feel that feeling. Allow your child to feel their feeling. When you rush in to comfort, ask yourself, who are you comforting? Are you uncomfortable with that big feeling? The next time your child is mad, notice if you shut down that feeling or allow it to come up (respectfully). When was the last time you said “There is no reason to be mad!” I know I have said it- probably recently!! But the truth is- feelings just ARE. And they come and go.


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Robyn Gobbel, LCSW is a child and family therapist in Austin, Texas specializing in adoption, trauma, and attachment counseling. She is the founder of the Central Texas Attachment & Trauma Center.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Chardonnay Poole, Psy.D. permalink
    May 9, 2013 4:47 pm

    Such a great topic and post! This is a skill that I have been teaching for years. Several of the parents and adolescents I work with have such a hard time “sitting” with strong emotions, usually negative ones. I work with them to sit in the moment of the emotion, and learn to tolerate it, rather than avoid it, which makes them more able to deal with them in the future.

  2. May 10, 2013 6:21 am

    Thanks Chardonnay! It is so hard to tolerate negative emotions…but also so important!

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