One of the most critical tasks of childhood is learning to tolerate the wounds of everyday life without moving into reactive anger. Individuals who can do this are able to work things out with others and manage themselves to achieve their goals.
When mentors lead by example to teach children and adolescents that all feelings are OK, and we have a choice with how we respond to each feeling, we develop emotional intelligence.
There is a message in every emotion we experience. Welcome them all with compassion! Labelling negative experiences as wrong, unnecessary, or avoidable is simply missing the heart of the experience and potential learning. They are key to our wellbeing.
Every passing feeling or mood has a purpose, there is no right or wrong, good or bad, it just is. We are wired for it. It enhances our collective experience of empathy, compassion, and connection.
How can sadness be good for us?
By extolling happiness and denying the virtues of sadness, we set an unachievable goal for ourselves. We may also cause more disappointment, even depression. Feeling sad or in a bad mood helps us to better focus on the situation we find ourselves in, and so increases our ability to monitor and successfully respond to more demanding situations.
It is a life-long gift for children and adolescents to receive mentoring on embracing these sensations, to be curious and explore the messages they bring. To notice when a passing feeling becomes a well-established mood that they are not able to shift with tools from our own box. To create a help-seeking culture within their peer group, family, school, and community.
As mentors, role modelling acceptance of all emotions is a wonderful way to instil a curiosity in our mentees toward their way of being. Allow them the space to express all of their emotions, rather than asking them to suppress the ones that leave us feeling uncomfortable. Notice that.
What emotion are you avoiding through quietening the mentee?
This anger acceptance road map from Dr Laura Markham is a helpful tool for all in developing and mentoring emotional intelligence.