Put it in a video

What do you do with your feelings?

Emotional regulation

When I was a teacher, we helped kids to learn emotional regulation. This basically means that they learn how to handle the full cacophony of life’s moods - in a way that serves them well.

It involves many steps, from simply recognising emotions, all the way up to using metacognitive strategies and self-talk.

I saw children making progress at all parts of this process. I watched them become empowered to handle their own feelings - gaining agency & independence in their lives.

It’s ok to feel any emotion

You need to know that it’s ok to feel any emotion.

The important thing

The important thing is: How are you going to express that feeling?

When your feelings are strong, it’s hard to hold them in! They need to come out somehow. But when your feelings are strong, they sometimes burst out in unexpected ways.

Replace it

Don’t bother trying to stop expressing your feelings. It won’t work.

Instead, replace the way you do it. Replace it with something better.

It seems obvious

There’s always something to do! If your replacement doesn’t help, try something else! Keep trying new things until it works! Never give up!

When you finally figure out a good replacement, it seems obvious. “Why didn’t we think of that before?” is something we often said. As well as, “I can’t believe it was as simple as:

Whatever it is, you gotta find a way to express yourself!

It takes practice

We get stuck in habits. We get used to expressing ourselves in a certain way.

Even if you know about a good replacement, it’s hard to remember to use it. In moments of strong emotion, thinking can go out the window. It’s hard to remember to use your replacement.

Some children wrote themselves little reminders and kept them on their desk. Some children asked us to remind them verbally.

Again and again and again, I asked certain children, “Would you like to go on a short walk?” or “How about we go and visit the guinea pigs?” or “Psst. Here’s a piece of paper for scribbling and ripping.”

I was a broken record
I was a broken record
I was a broken record

It can be beautiful

These ‘replacement’ forms of expression can be beautiful.

The ones I saw were creative, or fun, or joyous, or cathartic, or inspirational. They were art!

Sometimes they’re a form of communication. They’re a way of saying “I’m angry” or “I’m worried” that doesn’t involve any harm or hurt.

But sometimes they’re merely an outlet for something that just needs to be expressed. They don’t need to be expressed to anyone in particular. They just need to be expressed full stop.

They need to be expressed to the earth itself.

It’s the same for us

We all tried to be role models for the kids. We needed to show that: Yes, we adults experience emotions too, and sometimes it’s hard to deal with them. I often used the example of:

When the bus is full, and the bus driver doesn’t let me on, I get really angry. It makes me want to shout nasty things at the driver. But I’m learning to choose a strategy that helps me calm down. Listening to trance music on my phone always helps me with that. Loud music helps the most.

The kids were great. They’d say things like:

It’s the same for us

We adults experience emotions too, and sometimes it’s hard to deal with them. We need ways to express them.

Over time, I learned to notice the ones that work for me. As advised by that child, I found that fiddling with a hairband is a great way to ‘get out’ my anger and worry.

And I noticed that I could express my feelings in the form of a video.

But remember, it takes practice. Even though I knew I could put my feelings into a video, I still often looked for other, more harmful ways of expressing them.

Again, I became a broken record. “Put it in a video” is what I told myself again and again whenever I felt bad. And it worked.

Put it in a video
Put it in a video
Put it in a video

What do you do with your feelings?

Where do you put them?

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