It was about 5 years ago that I went through a similar experience to what I am going through right now. As you probably all know by now I have 4 boys, and it was 5 years ago that my eldest, Dalton, left to serve a 2 year mission for our church. What I found was that as the time approached I became frustrated, could cry if someone looked at me wrong, and I was very angry. I see an “energy” guy and he told me that because I was essentially fighting the emotions of sadness, which at times can feel like a death…and I was making the whole experience painful and frustrating!
As I navigate what I am currently going through, which is the upcoming departure for 2 years of my second son, Canyon, I have found myself in the same boat. After not knowing how to handle my emotions with Dalton, and actually getting angry at myself for feeling what I considered “weak” feelings at the time, I decided that this time I needed to figure out a better way to handle it. I am still feeling all the same things, but what I have started to do is first ask for help and guidance from my God and I have also learned to recognize when these feelings of frustration and anger hit me and I choose to ride the wave instead of being angry about it!
So…here’s the hardest part of the whole process: How do you know and be conscious of those feelings and emotions that are happening to you? It can be really tricky to catch yourself amidst these emotions and do an about face…but it can be done! Here’s how I have found works for me…
- The most important thing for me is to recognize the old patterns that I have – or the old MO that I have and notice when that reaction shows up. As I mentioned, my initial reaction has often been to become aggressive, frustrated and mean – because it allows me to hide the feeling I had once considered a weakness. Now, when I notice these feelings show up (because they still do), I ask myself…what else is going on with me right now? Essentially I identify the root cause of the feeling rather than just accepting it!
- I make a choice to have a different reaction – I let myself know that it’s OK to feel vulnerable and it’s OK to feel sad. In fact, those feelings are what is making me stronger for the next time I have something show up…
- Once I have made the choice to have a different reaction, I make a note about how well that alternative response has worked! If it works really well and my anxiety or heightened frustration is less, then I give it a name. Yes, that’s right…I call it something that makes me have a good feeling – I call it my happy response or something like that – so that next time when I need a different response or feeling I know how to call upon that feeling.
I promise you, it may sound hokey, but it really has been working for me. I am still super sad about Canyon leaving, I could still cry at the drop of a hat, but I don’t allow anger, frustration or stress about it to take over me! I welcome the feeling because I know what it means – that I love my son so much it hurts. That I want to honor him in a way that doesn’t involve stress and I want to enjoy every last minute that I have with him.
I would love to hear if you try some of my steps above and if they work for you…comment below!