Don’t Be the Tea Kettle

Take Home Practice: The Check-In

Take Home Practice Notice anything different in your emotional reactions yet? Or did you already forget?

Here’s the thing: emotions and feelings are neither good nor bad, they’re neutral. HAVING feelings is a good thing, certainly. (We don’t want to turn into our operating system.)

But while it is a more enjoyable experience to feel satisfaction, it is not inherently a better emotion than disappointment. We were created with this range of emotions for a reason, so there’s no point in beating ourselves up for experiencing a moment that makes us feel something other than happy and joyful 24/7.

It’s really that old cliché – it’s not how you feel, it’s how you act that matters. We don’t have a choice in the former, but we can certainly choose and direct the latter. It seems so simple, right? I mean, who doesn’t recognize this stuff?

But wow, putting it into practice. I’ve learned that it takes serious mindfulness and self-awareness preceded by a true willingness and desire to do better.

Once you start becoming aware of those moments when “Hey, I know I was irritated by my spouse there and didn’t say anything,” or “I feel like my kids/parents/coworkers are taking advantage of me again, and I just stuffed it down,” you can start taking steps to improve your response.

My husband used to compare me to a tea kettle. I’d hold everything in, getting hotter and hotter, until finally the steam had to escape and the whistle started blaring. To hear him tell it was amusing, but knowing she was burning up her family members was breaking that tea kettle’s heart.

{Sidenote Trivia: A tea kettle is used for warming the water on the stove. A tea pot is what you brew in and from which you serve the tea. As my sister has corrected me: “It’s not ‘Polly put the pot on!’” Valid point.}

 

Pot Calling the Kettle Black

 

I thought I was being tough, playing the martyr wife/mom role. I didn’t deserve to have “negative” emotions, they didn’t deserve to have me share those with them, and so I pretended that everything was FINE. Yep, we all know what it means when a woman says she’s FINE…

 

When a Woman Says She's Fine

Through some great mentoring, I was encouraged to not only acknowledge and feel those emotions, but to express them to those closest to me. Tell my husband when something was bothering me. Share when I was feeling happy and satisfied. Most importantly, not to bottle things up until they had to explode, emotions on all ends of the spectrum.

Certainly there are times when a more intense conversation needs to be put on the back burner, but addressing it and acknowledging that a conversation needs to happen later is much more helpful than pretending it will all go away.

Do my feelings still escape out of me like a steaming kettle sometimes? Sure. I’m still the passionate force I’ve always been, and that’s not going to change. I feel things deeply, so my highs are high and my lows are low. But sharing those highs and lows in the moment helps keep them from spiraling out of control, turning me into someone I don’t recognize and frankly, don’t even want to be around.

Tea Kettle Whistle

So again I ask: have you noticed anything different in your emotional reactions this week?

Keep up the mindfulness, and be aware of times when you might stuff those feelings of excitement, discouragement, gratitude, or frustration. Slowly start to share them. Then see if you notice a difference in those around you.

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Like what you’re seeing?  Don’t keep it to yourself.  Be a gem and share it with your friends.

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It’s been an idyllic summertime experience. It has brought me joy and even made me love my children more, to see them running and laughing and enjoying the simplicity of childhood. When I see the viral posts saying how we need to “give our kids a 1970′s summer” again, I just shake my head. Regardless of the decade, everything we need for a perfect summer is within us.

In a book I was recently reading, the author referenced a Facebook post that was going around a few years ago. In it, Facebook users were prompted to share a list of (somewhat random) things about themselves. Things their closest online friends might not know about them, but maybe should.

The author used it as an opportunity to pull back the facade on her life and be vulnerable with experiences from her past, feelings in her present, and fears of her future that most people didn’t realize about her. It resonated with all who read it, and the response was overwhelmingly positive.

It occurred to me that I could make a list for my children. 15 Things I Want My Kids to Know About Me.

When I am laughing with my daughter on the floor as she pretends I’m her baby, watching the joy unfold on my middle son’s face as I “fly” him on my feet, or feeling the comfort of my oldest son’s arms around me at bedtime, sometimes my mind will think, “I should take a picture of this.”