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Playful Self-Discipline: My Emotional Barometers

This month I’m focusing on improving my emotional health in a playfully self-disciplined way.  Now, when I say “improving my emotional health,” I’m not talking about forcing myself to be a 100% happy and positive person every moment of the day, even if I have to fake it.  I’ve learned that I can’t control my emotions (or my kids) by clamping down and forcing an issue, and I’ve never been good at faking things.  Every time I attempt a maneuver like that it ends up making my life more difficult in the long run.

girl walking near a lighthouse

What I am aiming for is more like a fluid dance.  Mindfulness, trust, acceptance and working to adjust the things I can control so that my emotions are mostly stable and positive.

Mindful of my own thoughts, feelings and inner self-talk.  Mindful of my actions, words and responses to things around me.  And mindful of how my daughters are doing, especially if their behaviour swings well towards the positive or negative ends of the spectrum.

It’s one of those unavoidable and difficult facts of parenting that when I lose my cool and let my negative emotions get out of hand, my daughters pick up on it.  Even if I’m feeling negative and I think I’m holding it in good and tight, they still pick up on it.  And the longer or more severely I’m out of sorts, the more my girls go off track themselves.

You know that old saying, “If mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy?”  Yeah.  It’s true.

So the fact that my children act as barometers of my passing emotional weather systems makes my emotional health even more important.

Because it’s not just about me.

My mood sets the tone for the whole house, and if there’s anything worse than being in a foul mood yourself, it’s being in a foul mood with some wild, misbehavin’ chiddlers underfoot.  Not to mention the effect that has on their own emotional health.

The good news in all of this is that when I’m feeling centred and balanced, when I can ensure I get the basics of food, sleep, exercise, solitude, social time and creative work covered, then everyone else in my family benefits.

It’s a win-win for everyone.

The more I see this effect in action, the more I feel a sense of magnetism towards positivity in my life, which makes me want to keep doing that dance of mindfulness and adjustment to keep things on an even keel.


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  • Cynthia @ The Hippie Housewife September 17, 2011, 12:18 pm

    This was (is?) one of the things I most fought against when I became a mother. I don’t want the responsibility of setting the tone for the entire family! Oh, the pressure. Framing it in terms of emotional health, though, is a more positive and achievable way of viewing it. Looking forward to reading more.

    • michelle September 19, 2011, 10:44 pm

      It can seem like a lot of pressure, but I’ve found that it’s easier in the long run to work as hard as I can to tend to my own emotions, because when I don’t everything is so much harder for me and for everyone else. When I’m doing it because I want to then the change is easier to make – like flossing, and exercising, etc, etc.

      It certainly was a shocker to become a parent and really see clearly how quickly emotions can spread from one person to another, though! Somehow I hadn’t noticed that as much before I had kids.