Feelings Count

Resilience is our theme this month. From Soul Matters, “Resilience is the ability to bounce back from stress, challenge, tragedy, trauma or adversity. When children are resilient, they are braver, more curious, more adaptable, and more able to extend their reach into the world.”

The person I’ve read the most on the combined topics of resilience and parenting is Brene Brown. You may have seen her TED Talks. Here is an exercise the recommends as a family activity. It has to do with our ability and permission to not only have feelings and to identify them, but to also express our feelings. Here is the activity. “Draw a picture of your home, and at the top of the paper write, ‘You always have permission to . . . ‘  Fill in the house with descriptive feeling words. You always have permission to cry, be frustrated, laugh, be sad, be afraid, etc.”

By doing this we send a message to our children (and ourselves) that it is okay to own and express our feelings. That feelings count, even the ones we don’t like very much. And by giving our children and ourselves room to express feelings we know we belong just the way we are. We create a safe place to be ourselves and a feeling of belonging as a family. This helps us recover more quickly, to get “back on the horse”. To face life with courage and vulnerability, or as Brene Brown would say, face life wholeheartedly.

I also listened to another TED Talk given by educator and researcher, Angela Lee Duckworth: “Grit: The power of passion and perseverance”. Again from Soul Matters, “Grit is the courage and even stubbornness to keep going in the face of failure and obstacles that are put in our way.” Duckworth said that the biggest factor she has found in determining success is not income, race, intelligence or good looks but grit. The ability to get up and keep on going in spite of failure and setbacks. One way we help our children through life’s difficulties is to let them know that they can learn and grow from a loss, not that they identify with the loss, as a failure (as in “I’m a looser”, or “I’m never going to . . . “), but that they can grow from it. It gives them hope.

The best thing we can do is to model resilience for our children and youth, to be good companions when they are experiencing strong emotions, and to help them identify lessons learned. When do you remember watching your parents act resiliently?

Calendar: Sunday, Feb. 9 4th-7th grade Riddle and Mystery art project. Youth will, with the help of teachers, make their own Big Question tee shirt!

With grit and gratitude,

Rev. Judy