As I mentioned last week, I am compiling a list of lessons to help adults move “Beyond the Elementary,” in order to overcome stress and acheive success. Lesson #1 was “Smile and say hello.” Now for lesson #2.
2. Own your feelings
One of the social emotional development curricula I was required to use while teaching focused on “I feel” statements. The lessons required students to look at photos of people showing exaggerated emotions. After they identified the emotions I would model the language, such as “Tommy feels sad because his dog is lost.” Eventually, after lots of practice identifying emotions in others, students would role play using “I feel” statements in common situations. We would concoct everyday challenges and they would practice using the language, like “I feel mad that Susan has the toy I want.”
As cheesy as this all sounds (and believe me it did feel hokey most days), these lessons became invaluable tools during free-play time (a.k.a. the most important part of any kindergartner’s day). It never failed, someone would grab the coolest lego ship away from someone else, who had waited her turn to play with it, and kindergarten mayhem would break out. And if it were Friday, this would definitely lead to tears (Cryday, Friday).
Thanks to our previous lessons with the cheesy pictures, this is how the dust would settle. With some prompting from me, and as the year went on, from the other students, the plaintiff would say, “I feel mad that you took the toy from me.” The defendant would sheepishly hand it back to her and all would, again, be well in the world of blocks and finger paint.
Owning your feelings. It’s seems pretty straightforward, but you make it much more difficult. Adults like to incorporate blame, resentment and the ever popular gossip.
Granted your feelings are justifyably more complex that when you were a kid, with feelings of jealousy, disappointment, despair, disgust, exhaustion, etc. Ironically, the simple elementary school emotions can often be just as hard. The basic four emotions of feeling sad, mad, glad, and bad remind me that Dr. Suess was a genius. All of this makes up our Emotional Intelligence, which is the foundation for relationships that many brilliant scholars and execs have not yet been able to accomplish. Challenges in this area are not limited to our higher level thinking adults, however. This is a universal problem, leading to some advanced stages of Adultitis.
Do you ever bury your true feelings because you think it will be easier if you don’t speak up?
Do you carry any resentment or grudges?
A heartfelt and courageous, “I feel” statement can heal the darkest relationships. It doesn’t have to look as corny as it did in the classroom. It’s just a matter of identifying the emotion that is causing unrest and telling those who are connected to the problem.
There are four steps to help you succeed in this and prevent you from being nicknamed Lucy from Charlie Brown.
1. Look in the mirror first. Fess up about your role in the mix. What have you done, or neglected, that has contributed to this feeling? Do not blame others for your own gunk.
2. When you confront someone about your feelings, be pleasant. Check your tone, avoiding the childish wining tendency.
3. Don’t be a doormat. Be sincere about how you really feel. Don’t short yourself by saying only what you think will be accepted.
4. Don’t create something out of nothing. People have a very low tolerance for adults who are oversensitive.
If kids can learn to own their own feelings and move on, without holding grudges, then surely adults can too.
[tags]Emotional Intelligence, I feel, Adultitis, feelings, Dr. Suess[/tags]