Green Living

Breathe In, Breathe Out


One of the most amazing things I have learned from my longtime healer and mentor, Mary Beth McBride, is to simply be with my emotions. Since Penelope arrived, I am much more conscious of my emotions and allowing myself to really feel them. Previously, I had spent a lot of energy in stuffing them down and ignoring them or doing whatever I could to make them go away. I still have plenty of coping mechanisms that are not “healthy”, like going to Target to get a Starbucks and mindlessly shop for crap I don’t need, but I have made progress by leaps and bounds with this little trick.

And I realized that the fastest way to make them go away is to really feel them, acknowledge them and just plain sit in them for a bit.

So now instead of eating a bag chips and pretending that I am not lonely or sad, I will sit with those emotions and say to myself, Man, I am feeling really lonely and sad right now. I will sit and reflect on why I am feeling lonely and sad and really let everything come up. Usually I do this at night when Penelope is asleep or when she is at school so I feel safe enough to really let the emotions come up, but even if I am around her, I don’t have any shame or desire to hide my feelings from her. I want her to get a clear picture and a good example that life is not sunshine and roses all the time, there are many crosses to bear and emotions to deal with. That it is okay to let others know and see when you are having a hard time. I want her to see that she does not have to be stoic and that she is allowed to ask for help or share her emotions with others. I want her to see my vulnerability and imperfections. And I want her to see how I deal with my emotions. Hopefully, God-willing, I am teaching her other options other than diving into a bag of potato chips.

It’s quite amazing what can happen just by naming your emotions. Even if you choose to do no other mental homework, no other mental hunts of self reflection about that emotion, just simply naming what you are feeling is huge and I hope you give it a try. I like this list of emotion/feeling words. Sometimes I like to look at a list like this, if my first reaction is to simply say I am sad, but if I dig a little big deeper, I might actually feel embaressed. Or the next time you’re eating your emotions away, go ahead and still have that cookie or glass of wine but totally own up and acknowledge that you are getting those things to help you push down whatever you are feeling. You can say to yourself, as you walk into the Target store, yup, this is me coping right now.

Another trick Mary Beth taught me was a breathwork practice. Basically, take a big deep breath in through your nose and breathe in whatever emotion you are feeling: pain, sadness, anger, embaressment, whatever; and as you exhale you breathe out healing, peace,  joy, happiness, whatever you want. It’s a way to get some deep breathing in, not only because that alone will make you feel better, but also it is a great way to be present with your emotions and then it allows you to release them, gives you something to do, to get rid of them.

Motherhood is the great emotional trigger and I have said over and over again that it brings up all your junk. Breathwork is an easy way to get you started on acknowledging your junk and simply stop pretending it isn’t there. To learn more about clearing out your junk, you can listen to awesome audio lesson from MaryBeth in my Healing for Mothers and From Maiden to Mother eCourse, both of which are included in Art of Motherhood School. 

What ways do you cope and push your emotions down? What ways are you present with them?

You Might Also Like

  • Lindsay
    October 15, 2013 at 1:37 AM

    Yes! This is something I have really been working on. Growing up I was always told “it’s OK” or “It’ll be fine” but this doesn’t help you deal with what you are actually feeling. It is important, as you said, to really feel your emotions and know that it is ok to feel that way. If not you set yourself up to develop many unhealthy coping strategies. Having my son has really motivated me to change a lot about how I handle different emotions. This is something that is so important and can affect so many different parts of your life, but a lot of people probably haven’t really thought about. Great post!

    • Stephanie
      October 15, 2013 at 2:30 AM

      Thanks for reading Lindsey! Totally, I try to never say it’s ok, or you’ll be fine to Penelope. I try to validate her emotions and say something like wow! you are really mad right now! Or man, that really scared you, huh? You are feeling SO scared right now, right? And then she usually will immediatly perk up, as if just being allowed to be mad, sad, angry, scared, gave her the room to let it just pass on by.

  • Brandy
    October 17, 2013 at 12:33 AM

    I always try to breathe in the emotion I would like to feel, like joy or peace, and breathe out the one I am feeling that I’d like to work through, like sadness or loneliness. Does that make sense? You said above you do the opposite. I’m just curious as to why that way?

    • Stephanie
      October 17, 2013 at 1:01 PM

      In my experience, if I were to try and do that, breath in the feeling I want to replace what I am actually feeling, it just never works. For me, the only way to get the feeling to release and leave is to really validate, acknowledge and spend time being present with the feeling and then releasing it and then replacing the feeling with something positive.