Language matters. How we describe ourselves affects how we think of ourselves. If we say “I am sad”, that starts to define us as a sad person. But if you say, “I feel sad” that helps you realize that the feeling is temporary. There is an important distinction between saying “I am” and “I feel”. Saying “I am” is permanent and saying “I feel” is temporary. Saying “I feel” empowers you to take action. “I feel” helps you persevere and move forward and not become that feeling. Saying “I am” can do the opposite.
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Instead of saying, “I am sad” and defining yourself as a sad or depressed person, if you say, “I feel sad” that helps you realize that the feeling is temporary.
Feelings are fleeting and we want to ride the waves of those feelings – feel the feelings, but also realize that they are not permanent. Feelings come and go. They do not define us. When we view our feelings that way, it adjusts our mindset and it can help us to have a more positive outlook and help us persevere through tough times.
So saying “I am” is permanent and saying “I feel” is temporary. Saying “I feel” empowers you to take action. “I feel” helps you persevere and move forward and not become that feeling. Saying “I am” can do the opposite.
How can you empower your kids to use “I feel” over “I am”?
- Use “I feel” language yourself. Model it for your children.
- Have specific conversations with your children about the difference between saying “I am” and “I feel”.
- Brainstorm a plan together for what to do when someone in the house says “I am” when they should say “I feel”. This gets them involved in enforcing the new language structure and they will love correcting you. Encourage them to correct you/embrace it. Your kid will love that they are affecting your behavior.
- Do some guided meditation. The app “Calm” has guided meditations for kids. The book Sitting Still like a Frog is specifically written for kids. Meditation really helps you focus on feeling your feelings, but also letting them go and realizing that they are fleeting.
- Help your kids find the language to use to describe how they are feeling. The more language kids have, the better able they will be to describe what they are feeling and recognize it as a feeling. Read books like Today I Feel… and work on expanding your own feeling vocabulary and bring those words into everyday conversations.
It’s amazing how much what you say can affect how you feel, what you believe, how you act, and who you become. The story you tell about yourself matters. So think about the story you are telling about yourself as well as what that tells your kids. Help them tell a motivating story about themselves by focusing on “I feel”
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