My daughter has recently been experiencing some big feelings. The feelings trap her inside her own body. She is angry. We ask her to use her words, to help US better understand but words aren’t working for HER. In these moments of big feelings, this magical little human does not have access to words, words are not the answer nor will they break her from the emotional cage she created. We have tried. Words are not a choice in these moments of anguish.
Relatable? We have all at some point in our life felt stuck inside our bodies looking for the exit route. How many times do we offer the simple answer, "I'm fine" when asked how we are doing? “Fine” masks what we really want to say, which might sound like, "Well, I was late for work, kids were late for school (again), I spilled the last and only cup of coffee all over my clothes that I barely picked up off the floor in order to make it out the door with three kids none of whom brushed their teeth, the dog ran away (again), I just want to go back to bed and watch HGTV, I am angry and sad and lonely and tired of everything...how are you?"
...but we are too scared and overwhelmed to share the real truth. “Fine” is all we can manage.
Big feelings cover our fragility, they are protecting our most vulnerable parts. It is too hard, too tiring to find the words that accurately portray the messiness within. How can I even begin to share my chaos and even more so, how can I trust you to hold it with me?
Sometimes words are not enough and that is the end of the scene. However, over time, if our feelings remain stuck without an exit plan, they will ferment and create longer term issues such as depression, anxiety and low self esteem.
If you find yourself stuck in a place where you can't find the exit signs let yourself know that this is an opportunity for you to CREATE your own pathways out.
Creativity is a constant coach in the arena of self expression. It can be our guide and captain as we sit amongst our chaos. It builds ladders that allow us to step out of our boxes. Creativity is movement, it's play, it is simultaneously a new language and a translator. In action, creativity is an infinite number of forms: clay, paint, paper, pen, crayons, pipe cleaners….the list is endless. When words aren't enough, for you or your child, seek creativity: use clay to pound, to form, to change, use the colors and brushstrokes of paint to give life to the sea of emotions held inside, or simply use paper to draw, write, cut, fold all the things words can’t properly capture.
Big feelings can be hard especially when we are not sure what to do with them. In a world where an extravagant amount of information is constantly on our threshold and less avenues for direct communication are available, the need to find alternative paths of connection are even more vital. We text, type, Tik Tok before we work at being in the moment with our big feelings. Big feelings can be scary but all they really want is to be seen and heard. When words aren’t enough it doesn't mean walk away it means it is time to get creative.