An out-of-control or misunderstood emotional response can lead a girl astray. Let's be honest, it can lead a grown woman astray!
We've all seen it:
- The girl who seemed to have so much promise - suddenly shut down at age 15. She's pining away for a boy who she had a short romance with. He ended it and moved on. She froze in place and can't seem to get off of the couch.
- The 25-year-old who was so confident at 12 and now seems to have no ambition. She's settling in for so much less than she had aspired to.
- The talented 30-year-old who put forth herculean effort to balance work and motherhood. She thought she had made it! Then her husband left her and she lost it. She struggles every day to put on a face to hide her feelings of despair from her children.
- The 53-year-old .... well - we could go on and on here, couldn't we?
What happened to these girls and women? Why did they stop in time? How can they recover and move forward?
Many girls and women get stuck following an emotionally charged event: a break-up, a death, or an unexpected demotion. Others fall into a chronic state of sadness or withdrawal from other causes: feelings they don't understand or cannot control, mild anxiety or self consciousness that grows until it debilitates, or disappointment. What they all have in common is a lack of ability to master and channel their emotions.
Here are a few basics: Girls and women experience a rich and deep emotional life. Female brains and hormones set up that reality. Most girls and women have received little or no training in how to manage their emotional life. So when a life event evokes strong feelings, these wonderfully vibrant girls and women can feel overwhelmed with their strong emotions. It's not a character fault. It's biology. And we must work to teach girls and women the basics of emotional intelligence so they can recover and move on after life's difficulties present themselves. And be sure - it will happen to you, to your daughter, to your girlfriend, and to your sister. We all encounter hard times. Life is filled with struggles and joys.
People who know how to manage their strong feelings recover more quickly and can stay on track with life goals. Those who do not know how to channel their strong feelings can get frozen in time. And it's a dramatic thing to watch - it's like watching a hijacking. There's a powerful force and then the whole system (in this case, the person) goes off on a new and unexpected/undesirable direction. That's why I'm calling it a hijacking. No one plans it. No one WANTS to end up frozen in time.
How to get out of it? Learn about the varied feelings that we all have. Identify how you feel today, tomorrow, and from moment-to-moment. Get good at naming your feelings:
- "I feel annoyed."
- "I'm sad."
- "I feel overwhelmed."
- "I'm angry.
Accept your feelings (claim them as yours - they are neither good nor bad - the are simply feelings).
Then - make a decision about what you want to do next. This is the trickiest step. And it's the most critical step. You MUST become active. You need a plan. I walk women and girls through this process in my events, starting with middle school girls. Mastering our feelings requires learning and practice. Our natural instincts can lead us down a path that sucks the life out of us.
If you struggle with strong emotions or feel stuck contact me. I may be able to help you. If not, I have a great referral network and I'll happily refer you to someone who can help. If you have a serious issue I will refer you to another type of professional so you can get help to get your life back on track.