The Parenting Coach Podcast with Crystal

S1 E06 - Emotions and How to Feel Them

Mar 29, 2021


Our culture has not been so great at teaching us how to process emotions. Often we have felt shamed about our feelings and taught to resist, avoid or react to them. What if instead we allowed them? What would this look like? Come find out how, as I share one of the most powerful tools I use on me and my kids.

What we dig into:

  • Emotions and their tricky history
  • How we typically respond to emotions in negative ways
  • Why we aren’t great at handling emotions
  • How emotions tie into our parenting every day
  • The NOW feelings process and how to use it on us and our kids


I would be honored to be your coach and help you get the changes you want to see in your life. I have come so far, completely turned around my life and my relationships with my children, I know what it takes and how to make it happen. You can use the links below to get more of my content and learn about my monthly program By Design, where I provide monthly training and live coaching to help you build radical connection in your life.

Link to membership: By Design

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My website:

Children’s book on feelings: The Color Monster



Episode Transcript


Crystal The Parenting Coach: Hey, I'm Crystal, a certified life coach and mom of four. In this podcast, we combine radical connection and positive parenting theories with the How-To Life Coaching Tools and Mindset Work to completely transform our relationship with our children.

Join me on my journey, unleash your inner parenting expert, and become the mother you've always wanted to be. Make sure you subscribe wherever you listen to your podcast and rate this podcast on Apple, and check out my transformative monthly membership for moms in the show notes.

Hi there. This is Episode 6, Emotions and How to Feel Them.


Emotions and their tricky history

All right. So, often, we hear this term of like, 'Okay, allow your emotions' or 'Feel your feelings'. It's kind of a popular thing to talk about now, but I don't feel like anybody ever really teaches, how. You're like, 'Okay, that sounds nice, but what do I actually do?' 

Now, the reason that we haven't been taught how is because there was a lot of shame around emotions in the past. So, I don't know if you like reading old literature, but me and my children do, so we read books like Cheaper by the Dozen or any books by Edith Nesbit; we love them. 

And as I'm reading through them, I notice that emotions are just so shamed. Like, it's not okay to cry, it's not okay to yell, it's not okay to scream, it's not okay to be angry. Right? We're given all of these cues through books and literature. And then, also, even with the way that we were raised; a lot of times, we were raised in a home that was kind of shaming around emotions. 

And I don't think that they were doing that on purpose, but we were taught to like, you know, listen and to be quiet and not scream and not yell and not cry; and all of those kinds of big emotions that humans have, were kind of just pushed down. And this has just been happening for a long time. 

And so, now we're starting to realize Emotional Intelligence means that we need to start feeling our feelings, we need to start-- we need to have a way to actually process them or to feel them. But not often do I see people teach this in school or in any other area; there's not really a way to be taught. 

So, we're going to talk a little bit about this, and I'm actually going to give you a way to help you process emotions and help your children process emotions as well. 


The concept of mirroring emotions

So, there is this concept of mirroring emotions. Now, what this means is if somebody else is angry or mad or sad, that my natural go-to is going to be either to get them to what I'm feeling down to like my calm or peaceful or happy state, or, you know, maybe I'm going to joke, or maybe I'm going to laugh – or maybe I'm going to try to comfort them so that they can calm down – or my emotions are going to get heightened as well. 

So, often, what we do as parents is our children start having a meltdown, and we kind of melt down back at their meltdown because our brain's natural go-to is to mirror emotion. 

So, we have to actually have a way of combating this if we want to shift this. We're not very comfortable being around other people's uncomfortable emotions. If we were totally fine, being around somebody else's uncomfortable emotions, then it would be fine. 

We wouldn't have to feel like we have to change them, or we have to change us so that we're matching or mirroring their emotion. So, this is kind of this concept of mirroring emotion, and that's what's happening in our brains. Now, I want to explain how this kind of shows up in our parenting. 

So, say, our child decides that they don't like the color spoon that you gave them, or maybe our teenager doesn't like that you told them to do their chores – and they start screaming or yelling or, you know, whatever they do to handle their big emotions; our go-to is to get heated up inside. 

I can start feeling myself, get more and more more agitated. I can start kind of feeling the heat inside me rising until I am just that mad as well, until I am feeling the same way that they are feeling. This often happens because we're not actually comfortable with our own big emotions. 

Now, the reason I call it big emotions is because I honestly think that positive and negative emotions, gives them that negative connotation, right? They're not negative; they're just emotions. They're all just emotions. 

Whether they're positive or negative, they're all just emotions. And so, in order to allow them and in order to get comfortable with them, we need to learn more about them, we need to let them in more than what we do.


My client’s experience

So, I'm going to tell you a little client story that ended up coming up recently. I had somebody tell me that they were trying to have a conversation with their teenage child. They were having a difficult relationship, and they really wanted to talk about things. 

They felt like they were pretty common, they felt like their child was pretty calm; so, they're like great time, let's have a conversation. As soon as they started the conversation, they could feel themselves get panicky. They could feel themselves get anxious. 

They could feel themselves start to get frustrated, but they just pushed through it, anyways. They just kept pushing it down and just thinking, 'No, we're having this conversation,' and pushing down and pushing down. 

Well, you can imagine how well that conversation went; didn't go great on either party's end. Right? And that's because we're not really allowing that emotion or noticing what our body and our emotions are telling us in that moment. 


So instead, if we just-- Even if it means like, let's just stop the conversation for now, let's just take a rain check, right, let's just go calm ourselves down first. And by 'calm ourselves down', I don't mean breathing until we feel better. I mean allowing the emotion to be present in our bodies. So, we're going to be talking a lot about emotions in the next episode as well. 


Parenting with Positive Emotions vs. Negative Emotions

But today, I want you to envision parenting from these two different areas. So, first of all, I want you to imagine parenting from a space where you're feeling really content: you're feeling pretty connected, you're feeling pretty calm; and your child has a meltdown over whatever. 

Maybe they throw their food all over the floor, because they're mad that you didn't make the meal that they wanted. Now, if you're feeling pretty calm and pretty content before that happens; maybe you just scoop it up and clean it up; maybe you just say something like, "Okay, we don't throw food on the floor," and then just move it away. 

However you do handle it, it's going to go a lot more smoothly. Doesn't necessarily mean they're going to respond in the best way, but you're going to feel good about how you showed up as a mom. 

Now, in another situation, maybe you're feeling stressed or maybe you're feeling overwhelmed or mainly feeling frustration – sorry, the same situation, but in another emotion driving it – I want you to imagine how well that's going to go, right? 

Your child throws food all over the floor, and you're already feeling frustrated, you're already feeling overwhelmed, how you're going to parent in that moment, right? Our best parenting moments, aren't going to come from them. But we do feel feelings. 

We feel uncomfortable, uncomfortable feelings all the time, so how do we actually allow them and process them? About half the time in life, we're going to feel happy and content and peaceful and all those kind of comfortable feelings. 

And about half the time, we're going to feel uncomfortable emotions. We're going to feel afraid or scared or mad, sad, upset, right? That's totally normal. So, we need to allow those emotions more than what we do. 


Three go-to responses to emotion

Typically, what we do in response to emotion is avoid or react, or resist

So, avoid would mean like, I'm going to go do something else entirely: maybe I'm going to go, just eat an entire bag of chips and watch The Bachelor – maybe I'm going to resist it, just keep trying to push it down like my like my client and her conversation with her child. 

I'm just going to keep resisting the fact that there is some emotions boiling up there, and just keep pushing them down and try to have this calm conversation. And then, we also react, right? So, this would be like yelling or losing it on our children, or on whoever it is that is in that room.


So, those are the three, kind of, go-to responses because we haven't learned how to deal with emotions in a healthy way. So, instead of overeating or over social mediaing or yelling our emotions, let's feel them instead. 


Emotion vs. Feeling

So, an emotion is just the physical vibration in your body. Feeling is when you take that emotion and you allow it, you allow yourself to feel it. So, there might be a lot of emotions going on in your body, and you're not actually feeling them; you're not feeling any of them, you're not allowing any of them. 

So, frustration needs to be released. Those emotions need to be released for our kids and for us. And when we can get comfortable with our own big emotions, we're going to be a lot more comfortable with their big emotions as well.


The NOW feelings process and how to use it on us and our kids

So, there's a process that I teach my clients and I use on my kids, and I've also had my clients use on their kids as well that has been really helpful for them; so, it's called The NOW Feeling Process. And I call it "NOW" because it's kind of an acronym, N, O and W. It's one that I learned from my teacher when I was going through the life coach school, and I love it. 


Breaking down the acronym N-O-W Feelings Process

So, N is Name it, name the emotion. O is Open up to it. W is Watch it. 


N (Name it)

So, N - Name it. I'm going to talk about it for a minute. Lots of times, we don't have a huge emotional vocabulary. We don't really know how to feel our feelings because we have never felt them before. 

We try to kind of push away our emotions; we don't typically feel them. So, it can be really hard. When I'm first working with clients, oftentimes, they're like, 'I don't know, it felt bad', or 'it felt good, I'm not really sure what it felt like there.' 

So, what you can do, if you are having a hard time really naming it, is just call it open or closed or comfortable emotion or uncomfortable emotion. So, open means kind of like light and airy, right? Closed is kind of like heavy and weighted. All emotions can fit in kind of these two overarching categories. 

So, I just want you to think about which category they fit in, and just name it that for now. Now, moving beyond that, I would just start thinking about, 'Well, what do I think this really is? Is this shame? Is this guilt? Is it frustration?' And the better we are at that emotional vocabulary, the better that we get, then it'll be able to be more specific; then we can eventually pick a specific emotion. 

But for now, just name it 'open or closed', 'uncomfortable or comfortable, unless you feel like you know what it is. So, Name It. You can even say it out loud, or you can write it down or just think it in your head. 


O (Open up to it)

O is open up to it. So, this means actually allowing it, actually feeling that feeling. Oftentimes, we're worried that the feeling will be too big. Like it'll be a giant wave that just crashes down upon us and that we won't be able to get up again, or we will fall into this hole of deep, dark despair that we won't be able to get out of; but really, emotions come in waves. 

So, they kind of come up, and they really peak really strong and feel really intense, and then they go down again. And emotions typically don't last for more than 90 seconds to 3 minutes. They might come back again and again, but that intensity level will fade and dissipate over that short period of time. 

So, what happens is our minds like to tell us that it's going to be too hard to feel it, that it's going to be too uncomfortable, that we won't be able to, you know, handle that feeling. But the more that we handle that feeling, the more we're going to build emotional intelligence and emotional resiliency. So, I want you just to focus on allowing it and just opening up to it. 


W (Watch it)

Now, W is watch it. So, I want you to think of how you would describe this emotion to someone who has never felt that feeling before, ever. So, would you say, like, "It makes my chest kind of heavy and weighted, it feels kind of constricted, it makes my breathing kind of rapid and quick, it makes my face feel hot?" How would you describe that emotion? Another way to do this is colors. I use colors often with my children, and even with myself.

So, if this emotion had a color, what color would it be? So, maybe it's red, maybe it's black, maybe it's yellow. I actually read my children books about emotions and colors as well, so that kind of helps with it. But I think just having them get used to explaining it in different ways. And they're not necessarily going to give you a name for their emotion, but they could give you a color or a shape. 

Then you can also ask things like, 'Okay, where is it in my body? Is it in my shoulders? Is it in my chest? Is it in my stomach? Is it in my head?' The more that you can ask those questions and just focus on that feeling, the more you're allowing yourself to feel the emotion. And as we allow ourselves to feel the emotion, then we can release it.


What parents should know about emotions

So, a couple interesting things here; 

1. Children don't actually know how to regulate their emotions until at least 12 years old

One is our children don't actually know how to regulate their emotions until, at least, 12 years old. I read this-- I think I heard this actually at a Positive Parenting Conference that I was at; and I had no idea. 

I had no idea. I was like, 'People should know this, they should know that their children don't even know how to regulate their emotions, it's not something they're born with innately, it's not something they know how to do, it's something they need to be taught, and they're taught through us being able to role model that behavior for them.'

So, now with my kids, I can role model that behavior for them. But then, I also can even use this process with them. It doesn't always work; sometimes my children are way too frustrated and way too upset for us to sit down, and have this kind of a conversation; but sometimes we can. So, for instance, with my toddler, I think she was about three or four when I first started using it on her. 

And so, I would just say, "Okay, I can see you're really upset right now. I can see you're really upset; do you want to tell me a little bit about it?" And she's like, 'No.' I'm like, 'Okay, where can you feel it?' And I just had her point, just point, just use your finger, because she couldn't even talk. 

And she's like, you know, pointed to her heart. And I said, "Okay, it's in your heart?" And she said, "Yeah." And I said, "Okay, what color would it be?" "Okay, it's black. What does it feel like?" "It feels heavy." "Is it moving? Is it slow? Is it thick? Is it thin? Is it airy? Is it heavy?" Right? Just asking them all those questions helps them to really sit with it. 

And this might not go on for very long. It might not only be like a few seconds, but as we started doing this, she started telling me that the color was changing. And eventually, the color changed from black to then silver, to then white, to then pink. 

And then, by pink, she was like feeling happy again; she was feeling fine. Now, this isn't always going to happen, and that's okay. Sometimes they really do just need to scream or yell or whatever they need to do to release their big emotions that they're feeling. I often have parents come to me. 


2. Parents are alarmed by the words their children use when upset

This is the second thing I want to talk about. I often have parents come to me that are really alarmed by the words that their children use when their children are upset. So, maybe their children will say something like, "I hate you, I wish you weren't my mom, you're the worst ever." 

Maybe they scream. Maybe they swear. They're probably going to use pretty big language. The reason they do this is because they're feeling hugely big emotions in their little body or their medium-sized body, however big or old they are. 

And this is normal to feel these big emotions, but they're using the biggest words possible that they have there. They don't know how to describe it. They don't know how to explain it. They're just like mad, and they just want you to know how mad they are. 

Now, we take those words, and we usually make them mean something about us or about our child: 'Okay, our child's trying to hurt us, they're disrespectful, they're being unkind here.' But what if instead, we were just like, 'Oh, they're having an emotion, they're feeling a feeling, they don't know necessarily how to feel their feelings.' Right? 

We didn't know how to feel our feelings; this is something I've had to learn as an adult; so, how much harder is it going to be for them? It's going to take a little while for them to figure this out. It's okay, they're just having an emotional event right now. 

And when I can kind of get myself into that mode, then I'm going to show up differently in that situation than when I think they're being hurtful or disrespectful or unkind, or they're doing this on purpose; I hear that one a lot. 


Okay. So, I want you just to think about emotions this week. I want you just to try allowing yourself to sit with emotions, even just a few times over the week. Try this process; Name it, Open up to it, Watch it. Start noticing the kinds of words and language that you're using with your kids around emotions. 

Do you tell them like, "No, it's not okay for you to scream and yell; No, we can't cry right now; or 'you're hurting my feelings' or you hurt their feelings?" Right? We make it seem like it's other people around us that make us feel certain ways. We kind of like give away our own agency, our own freedom. 

But there always is a choice there; we want to be teaching our children that as well. We're not going to be telling them things like, 'This is a choice, you don't need to be angry right now.' Right? That's not going to be helpful. But us just knowing that, 'This is something I can teach my child, they're just having their big emotions right now, I can handle this.' 


3. We must be attentive in order to hear our emotions

And last thing I want to end with is that our emotions might be telling us something, and we can't hear what it is that they're telling us when they're screaming so loud inside and we just keep pushing them down. 

And they're screaming so loud trying to tell us something, and we're like, 'We're just going to keep resisting you, we're just going to keep avoiding you'; we can't hear what they're saying at all. So instead, let's just sit with them. Let's just sit with that emotion; and then, we can maybe hear what it's saying. 

Maybe it's saying something simple like, "You forgot to drink water today", or "You haven't fed yourself very well today", or "You just need more sleep". Maybe it's saying, you need more time to take care of yourself as a mom, you're burnt out, you're stressed out, you're overwhelmed. 

But we can't hear what it's saying when we keep resisting, and we keep pushing back against them. So, go out this week, and try to actually feel your emotions: don't 'social media them', don't 'Bachelor them', don't overeat them; but feel your emotions and see if that helps. Try it with your kids too.

I hope you enjoyed today's episode. Make sure that you give it Five Stars on Apple, and check out my monthly membership for moms in the show notes.

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