Last week Colleen Moore, a licensed marriage and family therapist in Roseville, spoke at the Women’s Association for Addiction Treatment at the National Council on Alcohol and Drug Dependency in Sacramento. Her presentation on working through emotional pain offers great insights for parents to guide their children though the emotional highs and lows of life in the social network.
Internet connectivity brings to the forefront the universal human struggle with the concept of self. For kids this can be a challenge, because in the first two decades of life - especially during the adolescent years - there is much learning and exploration about personal identity. And sometimes poor or immature choices are made, which can define them in the social network and in the flesh. Examples include sexting which leads to cyberbullying and being labeled a “slut”, and posting photos of a party lifestyle discouraging an employer from considering a youth as a desirable candidate for hire.
So it especially true that in the cyber realm a lie can become a real experience (bullying, addiction, exploitation) that murders the truth about our own identities as divine ideas in the mind of God – born to love and be loved and live free from the manipulations of this world. “Think about it,” Moore said, “When we were children we go from one feeling to the next. Then as we mature and grow, we experience feelings we don’t think we can handle. Eventually a big energy happens and we can’t stand the pain and so we send it to our head, where we feel like we can just manage and control it - which gives it more power.”
According to Moore, it is when we bring our own awareness to the painful energy that we can dissipate the energy that inspires pain. “What causes suffering is what we say to ourselves about the pain,” she said.
Below are some tips for parents to consider, based upon my interpretation of Moore’s presentation:
- Clarify for your child that feelings are real, but they are not defining us unless we allow it.
- People develop stories around their feelings and it then gives those feelings more energy. So be careful not to give up personal power (i.e., to choose what to believe about your identity) to feelings.
- Reaction to criticism is one of the energies that develops before we learn to speak – so already we are dealing with some negative energy contributing to our life stories.
- Human nature tends to avoid true feelings but that is where we discover our truth. So when we allow ourselves to experience feelings, we can find our power within to choose not to be governed by emotion.
- We have the power to bring positive energy to the feelings that inspire pain and disburse it.
According to Moore, the reason why we do not routinely conquer the emotions dominating our lives is that we are told we cannot. We identify with the false self, who is powerless, rather than connect directly with God in the realm of heart and mind whose love makes us whole. And then it is possible to overcome the cyber-powered world one heart and mind at a time.