Anxiety is the new epidemic, especially among our children.
This is a statement that I am hearing more and more and one that is easy to find evidence to prove. Kids are suffering from anxiety, stress, nervousness, worry, frustration, and parents don’t know what to do about it, right?
In my own culture, a conservative community where members of The Church of Jesus Christ send out missionaries when they are young adults, it seems that more and more of our young people are having serious issues with anxiety. Many who leave home to serve for two years, across the world at times, are suffering from anxiety in much higher rates than ever before. Many parents wonder, is my child ready to leave home? Will they be able to handle the stress and actually STAY out on their mission for two years? Or will they need to come home due to the high levels of stress and anxiety that so many of them are suffering from nowadays?
I think that it is starting to become a problem when they are VERY young. Why?
One of the things that I am discovering in my coaching of young children that keeps coming up, time and time again, is that our children do not know how to process negative emotion.
And as parents, we have often contributed to this situation, completely unaware that we have almost encouraged it at times. Well-meaning parents don’t want their children to suffer. They don’t want them to feel badly, so we do everything we can to keep this from happening.
What we fail to realize is that we are ALWAYS going to have negative emotions in our lives. Pain, suffering, sorrow, worry, fear, anger, ALL of it is part of our human experience and is actually SUPPOSED to be part of our lives. It’s how we grow. It’s how we learn. It’s how we become the best versions of ourselves. When we solve our children’s problems for them, or we shield them from feeling badly, or when we STOP them from feeling badly (DON’T CRY! Oh. What’s WRONG? Let me fix that for you), we are teaching them that they aren’t capable of feeling negative emotion and that it will hurt them. This is NOT helpful.
Now, don’t be confused. I am not saying to be dis-compassionate. Not at all. What I am saying is to teach them how to DEAL with the negative emotion. Don’t be too quick to fix it or take it away from them. They will be JUST FINE. Teach them that they are bigger than the negative emotion. They’ve GOT THIS!
We see this idea of a 50/50 emotionally-balanced life taught in most religions and schools of thought. In my own culture and scripture, we are taught that there is supposed to be opposition in all things. In Ancient Chinese teachings, there is Ying and Yang, where there is an idea that the universe is governed by a cosmic duality, where there are sets of two opposing and complimenting principles or cosmic energies that can be observed in nature. In Greek philosophy, we see that there is an essential conflict of opposites inherent in the human experience. We are taught over and over again that this is what helps us grow. It is the full experience of life that gives us the ability to feel JOY. If we didn’t know the sorrow, we wouldn’t understand the joy.
Then why do we perpetuate the idea that feeling negative emotion is not something that we want in our lives? Why do we resist it when we know that the duality of life is actually what helps us to fully experience joy?
It’s because we’re human. It simply doesn’t feel good and we have forgotten that not feeling good sometimes is NORMAL, EXPECTED, and is SUPPOSED to be a part of our lives.
When we understand this principle and live it, we also understand that the road to joy is made SO MUCH EASIER when we have tools to help us stop resisting the very nature of life and allow for the negative to be there.
What we do instead, too often, is to become unhappy. Basically, we are teaching our children that we are supposed to be unhappy that we are unhappy. We add a layer to it.
We are unhappy that we are unhappy.
Doesn’t make a lot of sense to me.
I took a good look at this four years ago and my life will never be the same again. I figured out that some suffering I was experiencing felt TERRIBLE and that the best way through it was to stop resisting it. And the amazing thing is, when I stopped resisting it, it actually went away. Miracle of miracles. What a relief. And the crazy thing is, I wouldn’t trade the experience for all the tea in China.
One other cool thing…I am lucky enough to live in a gated community where my neighbors are mostly over the age of 80. This amazing group of people grew up in a time where they KNEW that life was supposed to be hard. They came to EXPECT it! When life doesn’t go as expected for them, they EXPECT that it isn’t supposed to go as expected, so they have coping strategies to help them get through it. They understand that suffering is the stuff of life. It is what crafts you into who you are. Solid. Unwavering. Resilient. A JOYFUL person…and WISE.
Want to help your child learn to handle the stresses of life? It’s what I do every day. It’s so much easier than you might expect. My client’s lives shift in a matter of days.
Want some tools to navigate it all? Go to my homepage and click on Free Session and book an hour with me. I will show you exactly how to help your child (and you) handle the stresses that are inevitable in life in powerful ways.