We spend a lot of time and energy trying to change circumstances that are outside of our control. When we focus our energy trying to change the things that can’t be changed, it leaves us feeling frustrated and exhausted. When we resist whatever is happening in the moment, and focus our mental energy into wishing things were different, we bring added suffering to what might already be a painful or challenging experience. This rumination brings added suffering ~ the pain you're experiencing might be inevitable, but the suffering, this is optional.
What if instead, you choose to focus on accepting and managing the feelings you do have, on putting your energy into the things that you do have a choice in.
When your child is feeling overwhelmed by a situation or circumstance outside of their control, your first effort can be to connect with them on an emotional level. A simple phrase like "I notice you're having a hard time" or "this is a difficult situation for you" can be helpful. Being seen and heard is validating for everyone!
Invite them to take a few deep breaths and name what they're feeling. Naming our feelings and noticing where those feelings show up in the body is what Dr. Daniel Siegel calls the "name it to tame it" strategy. These simple steps integrate both hemispheres of the brain and calm the emotional center, making your child more available to access the part of the brain that can see the big picture.
Then, collaboratively explore the kind of things your child does have control over. The human mind seeks certainty and while this may be challenging in the current environment, there are still things you can control, ways to find peace, even in times of uncertainty.
Thanks to our partnership with Katie Eberts Illustrations - we've created a visual to support you in these conversations. We hope you enjoy "10 Things You Can Control" May it help guide you and your child in taking good care of your mental and emotional health ~ especially in these times.
Jen Rapanos, LMSW, RCYT is a child and adolescent psychotherapist working in private practice. She is the owner of Well-Bean, LLC which is committed to providing services & programs that foster the emotional & mental well-being of youth. Well-Bean offers child & adolescent psychotherapy, yoga & mindfulness classes, wellness workshops and education & training for parents and educators.
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