For the last few weeks, I’ve talked about the importance of emotional intelligence and maturity.
Recognizing my emotionally young reactions to my daughter, I committed to finding a way to “grow” myself up emotionally. My emotional vulnerabilities awakened, especially when my daughter attempted to set emotional boundaries of her own. Internalizing that as a personal rejection, I acted like a rejected person. It was especially shocking hearing my mother’s words, the very words I was never going to say, spilling out of my mouth.
However, 20 years ago, beginning my quest, there wasn’t a lot of information to support developing emotionally mature skills. Going into my internal experience offered insight and understanding. Out of that inner journeying came the SafeSeat practice, fondly called my SacredSeat since it represented a place where I accessed a higher unconditional intelligence. I imagined a greater part of myself seeing, hearing, and understanding the emotional story activated in my parenting. This sacred container of loving-kindness for my emotions held me when my conditioned self felt guilt and shame.
Taking a moment to reflect on your upbringing ask: How was I met by my parents when feeling powerless or angry, perhaps acting out by hitting my brother or sister? Or when big feelings came up around being rejected at school was I seen, heard, and understand the way I needed? When coming home with hurt feelings, it likely triggered something correspondingly vulnerable in your parent who tried to fix it, change it or talk you out of it.
It’s an emotional skill to be present with your child as they experience their emotional waves without trying to rescue them. The waves are the content of what is happening within the context of discovering who they are in their life, the ocean. The way emotional waves work is they first arise as sensation and feeling, then as a story, and then finally behavior. Likely, you weren’t taught the art of riding your emotional waves so it is challenging to ride your child’s. Most of us were taught to control them, especially when they manifested in “acting out” behavior. In parenting, we generally concentrate our energy on the “acting out” part.
In Purejoy we focus on seeing, hearing, and understanding what happens before the behavior – those sensations, feelings and stories that come from a perceived reality often triggered by our primal brain, our amygdala, which is trained to identify and protect us from threat.
The SafeSeat is a sacred space to check out if your perceptions are really true. Are you actually in danger if our children don’t listen to you or won’t do what you asked of them? It may feel this way and yet is it actually true?
Then we listen in our Safe Seat, hearing the story – not agreeing or talking ourselves out of it, yet seeing, hearing and understanding the feeling part that gets activated in parenting. Creating a base foundation to tolerate intense emotions without acting them out supports emotional maturity.
Over time, practicing wrapping your feelings in loving kindness, YOU become the act of kindness. When your emotionally young children get activated, you’ll attune to them without activating your own big waves of feeling and story. You become the sacred space for them to grow their emotional maturity.