By Danny L. Ross, M.Ed., CSC, LPC-S, NCC
Imagine juggling bowling pins in a hail storm while walking on hot coals with an annoying voice in your ear telling you all your mistakes and insecurities. Does it seem fun? That's what life is like for young students navigating multiple changing realities - life, love, personal, social media, and young adulthood.
When I hear adults and parents discuss their children's emotions, they tend to shake their heads, roll their eyes, and dismiss or classify the emotions as extreme. But with our society becoming increasingly disconnected and depression and suicide rates skyrocketing, we need to ensure our young students have the space and tools to process their feelings.
When strong emotions arise, they are like a swelling wave crashing on a delicate shoreline. It's brutal, intense, and quick. Although there isn't a guaranteed way to "control" emotions - a ridiculous notion and even more ridiculous undertaking- I find these two tips to be perfect tools that help young students better handle intense emotions when they appear.
Two tips to help students work through their many emotions:
Roman philosopher Seneca has a great quote, "The best response to anger is delay." When intense emotions get a hold of us, they take us over, leading to impulsive actions or reactions that can have life-changing consequences. The best way to counteract this is to stop - pause - and ground yourself. The ability to not react and pause provides the opportunity to look at things with a clear head and make the best decision.
Check the facts.
Once you have a clear mind, you can evaluate whatever situation or strong emotion you're experiencing. "Checking the facts" means that we ask ourselves some simple questions to assess the situation appropriately.
Is this that important?
Is this necessary?
What actually happened?
Sometimes asking these simple questions can help us gain perspective. With the proper perspective, we can better handle our emotions and give situations that arise the appropriate response and energy.
Many emotions you will encounter as a young student are valid, natural, and essential, so we don't want to deny our feelings. We are human; we feel things, things hurt, things are overwhelming, and that's okay. We don't want all of these emotions to control us and impact us negatively. Sadly, suicide and suicidal ideation have been on the rise for the last several years now and what I find is that it's been driven by intense emotions and quick, impulsive reactions. Suicide is a permanent solution to temporary problems and feelings.
I want our young students to be able to pause and check the facts on intense emotions, experiences, and circumstances, so they don't make harsh, rash decisions that could put their great personal potential in jeopardy and deprive the rest of the world of such a valuable gift - themselves.
Danny L. Ross is a certified/school counselor and a Licensed Professional Counselor Supervisor in Texas with over 20 years of combined experience in teaching, school counseling, social services, and clinical counseling. He has authored five books related to diversity, education, and grief.
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