Collage by Lani
I thought I'd start at the beginning of Gretchen Rubin's blog The Happiness Project just to see what great things she has discovered. So in March of '06 she was working with the classic bad-parenting move: denying a bad feeling. The day had started with one sibling claiming, “No one’s paying attention to me. Everyone pays more attention to the Baby...”
Gretchen started to snap back with the usual, “...how can you say no one’s paying attention to you?” and started to give her lots of reasons why she shouldn't feel the way she was feeling.
But just in time she remembered the principle she'd read in Faber and Mazlish’s How To Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk. (Gretchen says it’s a parenting book but the principles apply equally well to dealing with other adults. Well read on, because I think it applies to our inner dialogue as well)
Faber and Mazlish say: Don’t refuse to acknowledge someone’s feelings of anger, irritation, or reluctance; instead, name the feeling and articulate the other person’s point of view. Of course this is really hard to do, because the urge to correct a bad feeling is very strong: “you can’t really feel that way” or "you don't really want to do that" etc.
So Gretchen tried it out that morning. “You wish people would pay more attention to you? You’re feeling neglected?” And the sad little sibling nodded. “Come here,” Gretchen said, “let me give you a big hug.” As simple as it was, it did the trick. Both mother and child felt much happier.
Well I got to thinking, I'll bet I constantly deny my own "bad" feelings, just the way Gretchen was going to do in her "bad-parenting move." I'll bet a lot of my own inner chatter comes from an inner parent scolding an inner child whose having some momentary silly feeling. And of course feelings pass but if you deny them then you get caught up in an argument with yourself and you really put yourself into a mess. Better to tell the inner child, "Are you feeling such and such? Let me give you a hug." I'm going to try that. Then I'll be freed up to practice being here now!!!