A New Year's Resolution: How To Manage Difficult Emotions
Before I had Winter, my New Year’s resolutions leaned on the side of being cliché’. I wanted to gain more muscle, become more flexible, be better about what I ate, etc. It wasn’t that I didn’t have depth to my intentions before kids, it’s just that my intentions run deeper now than they did before because I know that my goals affect her too. I want Winter to grow up in a household where her parents are happy, healthy and well-balanced. So even though I still want to workout more and eat better foods, my real resolution lies in the depths of my heart.
Believe it or not, I really struggle expressing my anger in a healthy way. People often comment on how calm and how tender I am. I like that people think those things about me because I am those things, but I am also hot-headed and very stubborn too.
I used to internalize anger as sadness and would cry when I felt upset. But lately, I’ve noticed that my anger thermometer runs wayyy too hot and I go from zero to sixty in a matter of seconds. I learned in my mindfulness class and somewhere along the way in graduate school, when I was studying child psychology, that the brain only recognizes an emotion for 90 seconds. That the visceral effect we feel when have an intense emotion last for a minute and half before it subsides. However, it’s the self-talk, the things that we say during that experience that make it last or not last for longer. For example, have you ever been driving and been cut off by another car? In your head (or maybe out loud) you think, What the heck? That was rude. That was really rude. I can’t believe someone could be so inconsiderate, yada yada yada. That emotion you feel should only trigger for 90 seconds, but if you continue to ruminate, the effects can last much longer. Interesting isn’t it?
I know my anger issues aren’t going to go away overnight. But I am trying and will continue to try to let myself feel those intense emotions for only 90 seconds. In 2017, I want to really lean into them, feel them for all they are worth. I want to notice the way it makes my heart rate change, the sensations in my body and then after the 90 seconds are up, let it go.
This is my New Year’s resolution. This is what I want to be able to control because Winter deserves it. Perry deserves it and last but certainly not least, I deserve it too.
What are some of your resolutions this year? If you’re a parent, how have they changed from before you had kids?
Photography by Brittany Renee'