Several years ago, one of our then-teenagers “lost it.” They exploded. While I don’t remember the specific cause, I well remember the tantrum, the yelling, the frustration they expressed, the intense feeling of overwhelm and anger.
I remember being taken off guard. I was stunned because this particular child was usually very mellow and chill. I remember feeling helpless and also very motivated to stop them–to somehow convince them that the way they were acting was not okay.
What I did not realize then was that my desire to “shut them up” came from my own fear and insecurity. Their explosion was uncomfortable to me. I didn’t know what to do with it. I thought it meant that I was a bad mom–because kids of “good moms” never explode, right?
I also did not realize that my children did not know how to face and feel their feelings and then express them appropriately. They didn’t know it because I didn’t know how to do it for myself then, either. And so we all went about life stuffing our emotions, our fears, our insecurities…believing that somehow we were doing the “right” thing if we just never exploded.
What happened that day when our teenager “lost it” is a classic example of the cost of stuffing emotions and feelings and thoughts. Eventually we will explode. Period. At a very inopportune time, often when there seems to be “nothing” to explode about, it usually lands on the people we care about the most.
So today, I give this teenager and the teenager in all of us permission to appropriately express what is either buried inside of us or right at the surface…so that costly explosions don’t happen. Use your voice. Go to a private place where no one else is around. Maybe it’s outside. Maybe it’s in your garage. Maybe it’s in a car. Yell, scream, get angry. Talk. Say it all. Allow yourself to express whatever it is you are feeling. Allow yourself to feel the release of the pent up energy of the emotions and feelings and thoughts that have been swirling in your mind and heart for days or weeks or years or decades.
Face it. Feel it.
And then decide how you want to show up going forward. You get to decide!