I believe that we are all desperately missing an emotional education.
The pleas for help, so often hidden within social media posts, the way we respond in a seemingly disproportionate way to certain experiences, and the rise in our mental health crisis and inadequate support, are all telling us something really important about our emotional needs and wounds.
But, sadly we are not given the tools nor the permission from a very young age to embrace, explore and understand our feelings and why they may be different from how others feel about the same things – in fact, any remotely challenging or difficult feelings are judged or labelled and quickly put into a box, which we are taught to try and lock away or change.
Therefore we have not, on the whole, created a psychological safe society whereby people are encouraged to share their deep feelings, fears, and triggers because a) they might not even know what they are as they have been hidden away for so long so, they simply experience them via certain reactions or b) if they are lucky enough to understand them, they may well be too scared to share them for fear of judgement or prejudice and therefore they are left to fester and grow.
And the upshot to all of this is lots of broken, wounded, confused, and very often isolated people, either avoiding or struggling with huge parts of their life.
And the fundamental solution to this is an emotional education, but in the meantime, I think there are 3 things each and every one of us can do every day:
- Approach everyone as a whole human being, which means appreciating that there will be vulnerability in them, in some form and I don’t think that you have to understand what it is in order to create a safe space for it – very often it is the creation of the safe space that allows their vulnerability to come out of hiding and show itself.
- Approach everyone with kindness, the most accessible and widely available form of antidote there is for our wounds and vulnerabilities. Give people a smile, always start by assuming the best not the worst from them, extend them your patience rather than impatience and learn to simply listen rather than talk – we are not here to solve another’s challenges, that’s their business, not ours, but we can hold their hand whilst they do so.
- Tend to your own wounds, observe your behaviours and reactions, question them, sit with them, think about them, and if you feel safe enough share them – it is the ripples of truth from one that enables further ripples from others and that is how we start to build our own emotionally aware and psychologically safe world.
And that is how I believe we can all provide some ‘home schooling’ for our emotional education.