Today represents a milestone. It’s my youngest son’s last ‘first day’ back to school after the long summer break. I know I’ll blink and being the mum of school aged children will be behind me.
It’s brought up a lot of mixed emotions. Now I know the wisdom of sitting with my feelings. I tuned in and recognised a wistful nostalgia. It took me back to his very first day of school. I remember the teachers had gifted all the parents with a beautiful poem about the first day of school and a tea bag. I remember making the tea, crying buckets because I missed my little boy so much and calling my sister who was going through the same thing.
Sometimes a good cry and sharing our feelings with someone is all we need.
Other times we need to sit with the feeling a little longer and see what’s underneath. All our feelings are real. Sometimes the thoughts driving the feelings are inaccurate, but the emotion has a message.
So many people are frightened to feel their feelings. I know, because I’ve been there too. Sometimes this leads to extreme busyness, rushing around trying to outrun them. This never succeeds long term! Other times this leads to numbing them with food or alcohol or illicit substances or a dopamine hit from shopping or gambling. And sometimes we push them down and then explode over something minor. Leaving everyone around us shaking their heads and wondering what the real issue is.
There is another way.
Giving ourselves permission to feel all our feelings and accept all our feelings is a good start. Importantly, this includes our uncomfortable feelings. Research shows that if we can broaden our vocabulary beyond happy, sad and angry; and get specific about how we feel, this helps us to process the emotion.
Emotion is energy in motion, so it’s meant to flow, not to stagnate.
I also love tuning into my body physically to fully recognise what’s there and I work with my clients to do this. This isn’t always fun but it’s so worthwhile, a bit like working out at the gym.
Sometimes we need to go deeper and explore what’s underneath the feeling. Other times we need to question the thoughts that triggered the feeling and expose the subconscious beliefs.
Today as I sat with my feelings, I recognised that a part of me misses being so needed. I recall coming home from work and my boys would race to the door, tell me they loved me and smother me with hugs and kisses. Now sometimes I’m lucky to get a hello.
A part of me knows that the whole point of raising children is to guide them to independence. I feel proud when I look at the young men they’re becoming. This part of me knows that being needed in a different way is actually very healthy. I’m still deeply loved even if they’re not quite as vocal about it.
When I tune in there’s also a sense of excitement. I’m looking forward to seeing which path my youngest chooses as his world broadens over the coming years. And there’s also a sense of excitement for myself, leaning into all the possibilities that the next stage will bring.
This is a photo from his first day of school. I had permission to take a photo this morning but only under strict conditions! How do you feel about last ‘firsts?’
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