We all know that emotions like love and gratitude are fun and beneficial, but what about emotions like fear, worry or jealousy? Believe it or not, all our feelings serve a purpose. I say “believe it or not” because maybe, like me, you may have grown up believing that being scared is a bad thing and something to be avoided. Fear certainly does feel uncomfortable, doesn’t it? But what if I told you that you could make friends with fear? The following is an excerpt from our new book Feel Your Feelings. It’s from the Reader’s Note at the end of the book that explains the basic concept of what we are teaching kids (and adults) and why scary emotions are our friends.
Why being scared (or afraid) is a good thing
This is a simple book about learning how to identify and accept the emotions you have. It also creates a safe place for children to act out a variety of feelings. We say it’s a simple book, but this is not something most people learn in school or at home. Having feelings is part of being a human being, but learning how to feel your feelings is part of being a healthy and wise human being. Teaching children to recognize and appreciate all of their feelings is a wonderful gift a parent, teacher, or caregiver can give. Let us explain:
The basic concept of feeling your feelings
There is no such thing as a good or bad feeling. An emotion may feel bad — or as we like to say, “uncomfortable” — but that doesn’t mean it is a bad emotion to have or that we should try to avoid having uncomfortable feelings. Every feeling has a purpose! As we say in our concluding poem, every feeling is your friend. Some emotions teach us what we are passionate about, and some emotions teach us dangers to avoid. Emotions are the spice of life. They are what motivate us and help form our moral compass.
Why we label emotions as bad
One reason we label emotions as bad is that, frankly, they can lead to some ugly emotional outbursts. It’s as if you have a friend called “Scared” knocking on the door trying to warn you there is a fire outside. But ironically, you’re too scared to open the door. So the knocking gets louder and more frantic until Scared bursts into the room and, suddenly, everyone is panicking because the room is on fire. But what if we could open the door a lot sooner and ask Scared, “What’s the problem?” Scared might say, “I’m here to help. Please don’t panic. There is fire, and we need to calmly exit the building and call for help.”
If we never open the door to our emotions, it can lead to stress, anxiety, and even physical illness. When children understand how they are feeling and feel safe expressing themselves, it allows them to work through life’s challenges and experience the accompanying rainbow of emotions.
The gift of feeling your feelings
This book isn’t just about expressing emotions. It’s also a book about learning how to use your emotions to create the life you want to live. It does this in two ways. First, it demonstrates that all emotions, like colors, are needed to paint a beautiful life. More importantly, it teaches children the principle in cognitive behavioral therapy that if you change how you think or you change how your body moves, you can change how you feel.
So you can see why the perfect gift you can give a child is the ability to understand, accept, and feel their feelings! And, this is a great gift for adults too. When we play-acted the book, we felt like silly kids again, yet also empowered adults. Give it a try! Your kids will love watching you play along.
Put it into practice
Hopefully, this all makes sense to you. If you have questions, please leave a comment below. And, stay tuned for “Fear is your friend. Part 2.” Also, we recommend putting this into practice with our new book, Feel Your Feelings — It’s appealing to feel your feelings, and we’ll show you how.
Feel Your Feelings
“How appealing to feel your feelings!” Feel Your Feelings, introduces children to basic emotions with fun poems that they can act out from head to toe. They will learn that emotions are our friends. Some emotions show us what we love, others protect us from harm, and all of them put together, like colors on an artist’s palette, paint a beautiful picture of life. More info.
Hardcover or eBook
By Scott Stoll and Sara E. Williams PhD.
Published by Magination Press.