Managing Your Emotions With Care

Mr. Rogers is making a comeback in the new documentary about his life—“Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” I never watched Mr. Rogers as a child because he wasn’t around yet, but I have gotten to know him as an adult. As far as I can tell, adults need Mr. Rogers as much now as little children needed him back when he had his show.

One of his defining moments in the documentary is when he is testifying to Congress in order to save the show from being cut due to lack of funding. You can see it here.

In it, he is explaining that one of the important things that he does in his show is teach children that “feelings are mentionable and manageable.” I use this statement my book and in my Eat for Life class, but I add “natural”—feelings are mentionable, manageable, and natural.  We all have feelings and feelings are not good or bad. They are just feelings.

This morning I attended my Tuesday yoga class and as soon as I hit the mat I noticed “sadness.” I didn’t have a story about the sadness. There was just sadness.  Oh, I could have made up a story about this or that, but I didn’t really think that would be all that helpful. I have learned that the best way to manage my emotions with care is to just be with them directly. Noting “sadness is present.” It was palpable and I felt very tender. After yoga class, I left fairly quickly as I wasn’t in the mood to engage and act cheery when I really didn’t feel that way.

By the time I got home and started preparing for the next part of my day, the sadness seemed to pass. Because I hadn’t engaged in it by making it something other than a passing experience, it made its way across my horizon and disappeared like the setting sun.

Here are some quick tips for managing your emotions with care:

  1. Mindfully note the emotion that is present without adding a storyline to it.
  2. Notice the experiences that are pleasant in this moment. (It’s usually not all bad.)
  3. Engage in activities that make you feel better.
  4. Engage in physical activity (This produces “feel good” chemicals in the brain.)

When you’re emotional, do you reach for food instead of engaging in mindful self-care? If you do, join me this fall for my next Eat for Life class. I have classes on Monday evenings and Tuesday and noon starting the first week of September. We explore emotional eating and much, much more! Find out more here.

By the way, Mr. Roger’s speech bagged him the $20 million that he needed for his show. You’ll feel like a winner, too, when you learn to manage your emotions with care.