- Ricka Robb Kohnstamm
Discomfort = the price of admission to a meaningful life
In the family I grew up in, positivity was a virtue and I imagine (now that I can look back through adult eyes) a survival strategy for a busy mother with four little girls within five years.
Bad moods and difficult thoughts and emotions had no place at the table.
The key phrase I remember was "Turn your key." In other words, turn off what isn't perceived as being positive (or convenient? or easy to work with? or comfortable?) and cheer up. Change your attitude. If you can't, go to your room (alone, by the way) until you figure it out.
Pretty quickly I came to the realization that (to my child mind) positive feelings = good/accepted; difficult = bad/unaccepted.
Now I know that all feelings, experienced by children and adults alike, are neither bad or good. Feelings are simply information telling us about needs that are either being met or not being met.
When my heart is open and I feel relaxed, I can identify that my need for simplicity is being met.
When I feel suspicious, if I take the time and am curious, I may identify that my need for shared purpose is not being met.
Learning to move towards uncomfortable feelings with compassion and patience (and yes, curiosity) in ourselves and our children gives us the chance to name them, recognize patterns, and go deeper into figuring out which needs are or are not being met.
Practicing emotional resilience allows us to experience the entire spectrum of feelings, without fear of becoming stuck in any of them. Modeling that for our children matters.
No, it's not always convenient to feel uncomfortable or to have children who feel "itchy".
And yes, it is part of living a healthy, whole-hearted life. Bring it, please.