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How to Process Your Emotions As a Mom: A 7-Step Guide

As moms, we often feel like we have to be strong for our children. We put on a brave face and dismiss, downplay, or even deny we’re experiencing uncomfortable feelings.

Take a deep breath! It’s normal to feel overwhelmed by painful emotions. And it’s essential that we manage them because storing all this pain prevents us from being the moms we want to be.

I do confess it definitely can be difficult to find the time and space to process our emotions as moms. So, in this blog post, I will teach you how to process difficult emotions daily in a healthy way by using a seven-step practice I created.

I am painfully aware of the different ways in which I react when I follow these steps versus when I don’t. My community members can also attest to this. It’s also more difficult when you’re going through tough times. Like how I was a mess when I Elisha was leaving for college or how I had a hard time when I was going through my last pregnancy.

So the important thing here is to gain more awareness and keep striving to do every little thing that will help us do better next time.

What are emotions?

Emotions are our internal reactions to the events happening in our lives. They can range from pleasant emotions like happiness and excitement to unpleasant emotions like healthy anger and sadness.

However, it’s important to remember that emotions themselves are neither good nor bad. There is no such thing as positive emotions or negative emotions. All emotions serve as important signals for what needs to be addressed in our lives.

Experiencing difficult emotions can be uncomfortable, but acknowledging and working through them can lead to growth and change.

As moms, it can be tempting to protect our children from unpleasant emotions or any intense emotions, but teaching them healthy coping skills and helping them process their feelings and emotions can ultimately equip them with important tools for navigating life’s challenges. And this starts with modeling how we handle strong emotions, especially the so-called negative feelings that are inevitable in the journey of life.

Painful emotions vs pleasant emotions

When it comes to our emotions, it’s easy to want to only experience the pleasant ones. We’re conditioned to believe that we need happiness, fulfillment, and contentment all the time. Ironically, that’s not what a positive mom does. And here’s why.

It’s important to remember that painful emotions like sadness, healthy anger, and frustration serve a powerful purpose in our lives. These uncomfortable emotions signal that something is wrong and needs to be addressed. And they’re uncomfortable because of the stigma associated with them.

Understanding our human emotions can lead to growth and change if we allow ourselves to experience them fully and then work through them.

Embracing all of our emotions can lead us toward greater balance and fulfillment in the long run. As moms, we need this. And it’s a great byproduct that we can model this kind of emotional intelligence for our children as well.

Emotions vs Feelings

Have you ever found yourself asking “What’s the difference between emotions and feelings?” You’re not alone. It’s a common question, and the answer may surprise you.

While they are often used interchangeably, emotions and feelings actually have distinct differences.

Emotions refer to instinctive reactions that occur in response to a certain event or circumstance. These reactions are often immediate and can be experienced physically, through physical sensations, such as fear causing a racing heartbeat or anger producing tension in the muscles.

On the other hand, feelings arise from our interpretation and perception of emotion. They involve conscious thoughts and beliefs, as well as past experiences. For example, fear may lead to feeling scared while anger may lead to feeling resentful.

What does processing an emotion mean?

Processing an emotion means taking the time to fully experience and understand it.

We process an emotion by identifying and labeling the emotion, exploring where it comes from and how it affects us, and finding healthy ways to cope with or release it.

Processing an emotion is a skill that must be actively practiced, especially in a society that often tells us to suppress or deny our emotions.

Failing to process emotions can lead to negative consequences such as repressed anger leading to outbursts of rage. That’s when the momster comes out!

As a mom, taking the time to process your own emotions can have a positive impact on both yourself and your family. It helps set a good example for your children on how to deal with their own emotional experiences and allows you to better handle difficult situations calmly and effectively.

Why processing emotions as a mom can be difficult

Being a mom is both rewarding and challenging, and one area that can present difficulties is emotional processing.

Many of us have experienced some form of past events that caused trauma that may still be unresolved, creating current emotional responses that sabotage our desire to be positive moms: present, playful, peaceful, and on purpose.

Additionally, we are often not taught the necessary skills for identifying and managing our emotions in a positive way. To effectively process our emotions as moms, it’s important to first acknowledge our past trauma and actively work towards resolving it.

How to Process Your Emotions As a Mom: A 7-Step Guide

Taking care of ourselves emotionally will allow us to better handle the demands of motherhood and also have the energy to do the work we want to do in the world. Repression causes depression.

Practicing emotional self-care also sets a positive example for our children, should they choose to follow it.

How to handle an emotional situation with children

If you find yourself reacting poorly to your children’s behavior, well, welcome to motherhood.

I have learned that motherhood is the most triggering experience in the world. Unless we have tools to heal and calm our nervous system, we’re going to do things we regret. Yes, I’m talking about those moments where we feel we deserve the worst mom of the year award.

I am sharing some tips that I strive to keep in mind, but in no way I am saying that I follow them all the time. I am working on these as much as you are – trust me!

Look at behavior in the context of your child’s development

When we process our emotions, we can actually take a pause and think. When your brain is not hijacked, it’s easier to remember that your child’s behavior is not always a reflection of who they are or what kind of parent you are. Rather, it is often simply part of their developmental process.

For example, a toddler may hit or bite in response to frustration or inability to communicate effectively. Or maybe a teen is arguing with you. You can learn that this is a milestone that shows their teen brain is developing.

As a parent, it’s important to look at the behavior within the context of your child’s age and stage of development. This can help guide your response and lead to more positive outcomes.

It can also allow you to approach the situation with empathy rather than anger, resulting in better learning and problem-solving for both you and your child.

Remember you can’t control what your child does

As a parent, it can be frustrating and worrisome to see your child struggle with something, whether it’s hitting their siblings or throwing regular tantrums. It’s important to remember, though, that ultimately you cannot control your child’s actions. And while many people will tell you that you can control how you respond, it will actually depend on your mental health conditions. When you process your emotions, you can consciously choose the way you respond to their behavior, rather than react from a triggered state.

You can now think and decide using a healthy thought pattern:

Do they receive attention or rewards for negative actions or consequences and redirection towards positive actions? Your responses can teach them what works and shapes their future behavior.

Rather than focusing on trying to control your child, focus on setting clear boundaries and consistently communicating consequences.

Besides processing your emotions, also remember to make time to connect with your child and show them affection, attention, and affirmation. These demonstrations of love lay a foundation for healthy communication and strengthen your parent-child relationship.

Assess how your child’s feelings are impacting you

Moms want to protect their children, right? But it’s not healthy to protect them from experiencing difficult emotions like sadness or frustration. These feelings are a normal and necessary part of growing up. They are a part of life.

It can be tempting to try and fix our child’s problems or alleviate their discomfort. This may have more to do with our own emotional well-being than theirs.

It’s important to take a step back and assess how our child’s feelings are impacting us.

  • Do we want to ease their pain because we feel uncomfortable?
  • Is it our own inner child we want to assure?
  • Are we using this situation with our child as a distraction from our own emotions and feelings?

Taking care of ourselves emotionally can provide us with the mental clarity and energy needed to support our children effectively. We can’t really be there for them when we are hurting, or we’re feeling overwhelmed or burnt out.

Additionally, modeling healthy coping strategies and boundary-setting can benefit them greatly.

How to Process Your Emotions in a Healthy Way

I created a practice you can incorporate into your daily life to explore your own emotional pain and find healthy emotional expression. I call it “My Daily Date With Pain.”

This is a proactive practice for emotional self-care. You practice it daily, whether or not you experienced a negative situation that day. The cool thing is that when negative events do occur, you will be stronger, and more resilient, and the ability to process it quickly and effectively will become second nature to you.

My Daily Date with Pain

Follow these steps to become what I call “a Student of Pain.” I always say “Pain is an effective teacher when I’m a diligent student.”

I started the first version of this practice as a result of what I learned from being in a coma for eight days and my out-of-body spiritual experiences. I have since been researching emotional healing and verified both science and spirituality confirm my theory. This practice has worked for moms of all ages, stages, and walks of life over the years, too!

So let’s go through the steps:

1- See it

You use your mind to see it – recall one painful memory, thought, or experience. Get still and witnessing the pain you went through as a loving observer who validates your pain. Allow yourself to have a good cry if you need it.

2- Sense it

The next step is to adopt a grounding posture and go in to your body. Find the emotion within your body and notice the sensations it is causing. Where do you feel it? Is it tingly, tense, or tight? Is it contracted, warm, or hard?

3- Study it

Look at everything that comes up with curiosity and question it.

  • What part of me is being triggered by this event? Why am I reacting strongly to this event?
  • Is there a pattern? Is this related to a previous traumatic event?
  • Is there another interpretation to this event available to me?

Sometimes we call something a feeling, when it’s really a judgment, perspective, or perception.

4- Say it

You choose how to say it – talking to yourself out loud or writing it down as your caring observer self.

When you do this in the second or third person by starting with your name. This creates the necessary psychological distance for you to process your pain.

Hearing myself say something as simple as “Elayna, that was so hard for you, and it’s okay to be sad” can positively impact my emotional well-being. 

Your life will transform as you label your emotions and expand your emotional vocabulary.

5- Stay with it

Give yourself 90 seconds with the emotion, with the intention to experience it fully.

Harvard Neuroanatomist Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor teaches the “90-second rule,” or the concept that any emotional response will last only 90 seconds… just 90 seconds. This means that any emotional reactions that go past 90 seconds are the ones we choose.

6- Soothe yourself

Find ways to comfort and nurture yourself from the painful experience you just explored. I call it mothering yourself.

The best way to do this is by using your love language or a combination of love languages. For example, you could say words of appreciation or an affirmation to yourself and give yourself a hug or touch your heart.

7- State how you will BE.

Writing a to-BE list is simply writing the attributes of the kind of person you intend to be. This was a life-saving practice for me during one of the hardest moments of my life. I went from wanting to take my life to want to take charge of my life simply by doing this activity. You can read about it here.

Writing (or saying) a to-BE list gives you a different perspective and opens up new possibilities. I say ditch your to-do list because you’re a human being, not a human doing.

A bit of a how to

And speaking of lists… This may seem like a long list with lots of words. However, it really is just a few steps you can do in just a few minutes. You can do this anytime, anywhere, and even with anyone.

You can close your eyes and take deep breaths while you are doing it, but you don’t have to.

You can do it while you shower, while you do dishes, while you’re brushing your teeth… I love doing it while I’m laying in bed right after I wake up, but you could do it before you go to sleep at night, too!

If you do want to make this into a scheduled, intentional practice, then you can set the tone with a candle, essential oils, a bit of uplifting music, and anything else that makes for a relaxing atmosphere.

I recommend creating a safe space, a quiet space where we can freely express and proactively work through our emotions and nurture our inner child.

Working with your difficult emotions

The seven steps I outlined will greatly help you in your journey of processing difficult emotions. This practice can help you make good friends with your pain, which allows you to learn from it. And the more you do it, the better you will get at it.

As you do self-reflection and inner work, you will decipher what is hidden in your subconscious mind. You’ll find unmet needs and unhealed wounds that need tending. This will allow you to truly take care of yourself emotionally, prevent chronic stress, and find emotional balance.

Spending time with your own pain helps you model healthy coping strategies for your children and helps them learn how to process their own emotions in a healthy way.

I invite you to Date Your Pain

A few minutes per day go a long way to creating emotional regulation and resilience. Holding it all inside is what brings about unhealthy behaviors we are not proud of and deeply regret.

This practice makes for a great step to supplement whatever type of therapy you already go through.

A simple date with your pain can transform your trauma so you don’t transmit it.

When children are surrounded by parents, mentors, and caregivers who heal their own emotional pain, we can end and buffer childhood adversity, and they grow up to be emotionally whole adults. I am – we are – living proof that our adversity is not our destiny.

We can break the cycle and be truly free.  

Are you ready to process your emotions? Share with us what inspires you to have a daily date with pain and become a Student of Pain.

My mission is to help moms find peace, break cycles, and feel whole so they can be present, peaceful, and positive moms. To receive a gift that can get you started on that journey click HERE.

Be Positive and You Will Be Powerful ~ Elayna FernandBe Positive and You Will Be Powerful ~ Elayna Fernandez ~ The Positive MOMez ~ The Positive MOM

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Patricia E

Saturday 22nd of October 2022

Thank you for sharing this. This is helpful information and makes me think a little deeper.

Micheline

Saturday 22nd of October 2022

A lot to read here and will have to come back, probably more than once. It’s sometimes too painful to bring up past issues.