Dear Future Child,
I see your pain. I feel your suffering. I want to take it away from you. But I can't.
I can witness you while you feel your feelings. I can hold you, or rub your back, give you the softest eyes I've got. I can even give you space as your feelings unfold. Your feelings are always valid, no matter what. Please try to let them happen as they occur, so you can be free to feel other things.
After you let your feelings occur to their fullest and then subside (and you must trust, Child, that they will always subside) let's talk about what happened and what may have triggered your hurt. Remember, your feelings always have a message for you. Were you angry? That's the gatekeeper for fear. What felt scary to you? These are important questions to consider each time that feeling comes up. What is your fear telling you? Only you can know this.
I want to teach you this while you're young, Child, so you learn to own and honor your feelings. I want you to do your best to remember that the only person in charge of your feelings (hurt and suffering or happy and joyful and anything in between) is you.
When your feelings aren't fully felt as they occur, the feelings get stuck. But feelings need to be expressed. It is very risky business to suppress your feelings, because then they come out later in much bigger, unpredictable, and sometimes hurtful ways... even when we don't mean for that to happen. Just remember, Child, that the feelings always must come out, one way or another. (It's just better for them to come out in the moment.)
But where do feelings even come from?
Our brains, Dear One. Our brains.
People, places, objects, animals, plants, rocks, rivers (etc.) may all contribute to how you might feel in any particular moment, stimulating the various parts of your brain connected to each kind of feeling. This concept may feel abstract and weird, so I want to explain it a little more: Close your eyes, and pretend you're walking along a lovely, winding path through a beautiful forest with towering sequoias surrounding you. You're noticing the calm, powerful, ancient energy that the trees emit, and you are enjoying what it's like to be bathed in their earthy wisdom. Suddenly, while you're walking, your toe catches a rock that's sticking out of the soil, you lose your balance, and gravity pulls you to the ground a little faster than is comfortable. You throw your hands out instinctively to catch your fall, and your left palm finds a twig that's angled in just the right way, with just the right force (mass x acceleration) to put a little twig-scrape on your skin. Ouch! You stay on the ground a little longer, assessing the damage. Your knees might be a little bruised tomorrow, but otherwise, they're fine. Your left palm is stinging a bit, but you're not bleeding enough to even justify a bandaid (but you clean yourself up and dress the wound properly--with cleansing antiseptic wipes and a bandaid--from the little first aid kit in your pack because you're adequately prepared for these moments in the forest!). You feel a little shook, but five minutes later, with a little water in you, you are back on your feet and noticing and absorbing the energy of the trees and forest life. You took a little fall, but it didn't have to cancel your playtime in the nature!
Now, to apply this scenario to the lesson: Is it the rock's fault that you fell? Do you punish this rock by berating it, judging it, kicking it, throwing it far away from you, blaming it for your injury? Do you spend the rest of your life looking for other rocks in order to avoid them, anticipating where you might encounter one, and attempt to avoid every rock anywhere in the world forever? And when you see another rock by mistake (because it turns out that it's very difficult to avoid all rocks in the world for the rest of one's life), do you sit down, brace yourself, and wait for it to hurt you, even if it is just over there on the side of the path, minding its own rock business... just being a (mostly harmless) rock?
I'd like that to sink in for a moment: are ALL ROCKS BAD because you fell and got a little hurt one time?
Do you live your whole one wild & precious life missing out on the beauty and magnificence of the sequoias, or any other wonderful place in the nature, because you never want to see another rock again for the rest of your life because it *might* hurt you?
Mmhmm. I didn't think so.
What I really want you to take away from this letter is that you, my dear Child, get to decide how much (or how little) your painful experiences influence the other parts of your life. Please don't let one moment of pain steal the rest of your future moments of potential joy!
I want to help you learn how to practice feeling your feelings, and then knowing what you need to soothe yourself when one or more of the not fun feelings shows up (and show up they certainly will!). I want you to remember to never blame another person for the feeling you're having. You always get to choose, and it's always best to choose yourself.
Just remember: the rock did not make you hurt. The rock was just an ingredient in a perfect recipe for a little bit of pain.