The other day my son got upset over a request I made of him to load the dishwasher.
"Why do I have to do that?"
"So and so didn't get an extra job!"
"This is not fair!"
Grumble, grumble, grumble.
Whine, whine, whine.
You know what I wanted to do when he reacted this way?
I wanted to grumble and complain and whine right back.
"Do you know how easy your life is?"
"So many kids your age have much bigger problems to worry about than loading the dishwasher, buddy!"
"Complaining about your job isn't going to make it go away, my boy!"
But then I remembered what my mentor Jody Moore taught me about mirroring emotions:
Humans are really good at reading and reacting to other humans.
Taking on their emotions.
We think it's useful in some way.
'He's angry, so I should be angry, too.'
But is it useful?
What if we just allow those we love to feel however they want, without taking on their emotions?
That doesn't mean I need to have a dance party in the corner while my son is so upset.
But I can allow him to be upset.
Hold that space for him.
But not get upset, too.
My emotions aren't hinged upon his feelings.
He can be upset, and I don't have to be (this is one of my favorite go-to thoughts).
Then, when he's ready to NOT be upset, he knows he can come to me for help with getting out of that funk.
Because I won't have allowed myself to fall into that funk, too.
Start paying attention to when you mirror the emotions of those around you.
When your husband comes home from the hospital in a bad mood.
When your toddler throws a tantrum.
When the checker at the grocery store responds in a snippy tone.
When your daughter comes home grumpy from school.
And remind yourself:
They can be upset and I don't have to be.