Taking Emotional Roll Call
Do you suppress, control, or do just about anything to avoid those more uncomfortable emotions? Our emotions carry important information about our needs and what we care deeply about. This exercise will guide you to practice listening to the messages of your emotions in a more skillful way. Let’s Practice.
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I wasn’t sure if I was doing it right. I couldn’t find the time or image of when I first felt that similar resentment in my life. Every thing felt like a blur and I had trouble staying with the visualization. I felt a lot of other emotions when I tried to focus on that one that I was supposed to. It seems to keep slipping away, which suddenly led me to feeling incompetent.
I tried to talk lovingly to my inner passenger but I didn’t know how or what to say. I felt unnatural and fake like I was trying too hard.
Hi dear Justine, Thank you for your share and question! I must say you are already an excellent Observer of your experience. Well done! And yes, it is quite natural that this practice is difficult at first. Us humans are just programed to move away from uncomfortable thoughts and feelings. And then of course the judgments come. So yes, this practice is difficult. That is why I repeatedly say ‘let’s practice’ over and over again. Getting kindly acquainted with our difficult internal experiences takes practice. AND I’m super proud of you for trying. I hope you will keep working on it. And do not hesitate to ask any other questions. I promise to be more prompt next time.
When I face my child version of me and see me crying I can’t immediately hug my self there, but rather crying pity of myself and after that offering a hug. I can’t tell myself that you’ll be okay because I am not okay too.
Hi Justine, First let me say thank you for sharing your brave and vulnerable answer. I’m so very glad you are trying and practicing the exercises in the face of your difficulties! The first thing I’m curious about in your response is this: What if you didn’t tell her ‘you’ll be okay’ to reassure her. What if instead you just say something like, ‘I’m here with you. Let’s just sit this out together for this meditation time.” As you proceed through the book, you will see, skillfully walking through difficult emotions is doing the opposite of what we have learned or do naturally. Instead of trying to change the crying and sadness, we’re learning how to lean in and be with our emotions in a kinder, gentler way. So they can get unstuck and move on on their own. This brings me to my second observation. Our word choice. I noticed you used the word ‘pity’ for how you perceive your sadness. The word pity has a bit of a superior or condescending feel to it. What if you switched pity, for compassion? There is a self compassion practice video in Chapter 8 if you would like to go try that one. I hope you find this helpful! And do keep checking back if you have any other questions. Stay with it as best you can. You may just be surprised by the outcome. Warmly, Lara
That was a great experience. I felt so nice talking to my childhood. Feeling lot better now, indeed . Thanks. Now, I’m going to continue reading the book.
Hi Bulent, I’m so pleased you felt connected to the practice. I hope you are proceeding through the practices and learning more and more about yourself! Warmly, Lara
This was my first experience here. While I was offering my child-self an apology and acceptance, I kept thinking it was my parents who owed me this. How do I give myself something that is owed by someone else?
Hi K, I can totally relate to your thoughts! It feels, and IS so unfair that we sometimes have to give ourselves the things our parents ‘should’ have. . . So, let’s just take a minute to let that set in. Your feelings are valid… (Self compassion practice in chapter 8 might be helpful). AND if there is something your parents might still be able to do, which will help you feel better (and they are capable of), see ch. 11. on how to skillfully get your needs met.
When we cannot get the things we should have however, that is when, I’m oh so sorry to say… We have to offer it to ourselves and rebuild the foundation we were denied. You ask “how” can I give this to myself? That is the practice. Over and over again. We come back to the practice. Does that make sense?
If you have any other questions, please don’t hesitate to ask.
So I’m a fully grown adult (53) who teaches mindfulness to adults and some teens and reading yr book to get a better understanding of young adults as don’t have kids myself. I did this practice for myself and it was so powerful thank you. A carer for my 91yr old dad after losing mum last year and I just saw my sad 8yr old self in the passenger seat. V useful visualisation!
Hi Annie, I’m thrilled that you tried it and it had the intended effect! I hope you will continue to identify and check in with little Annie… so she doesn’t need to scream to get your attention. I also hope the book inspires some creative ways to work with your students. I’d love to hear how it goes! Warmly, Lara
Best article i read recently. I will definitely share it with my friends
Thank you for your kind words.
Hi Lara, I just tried this exercise for the first time and saw my passenger not as a child, but me as the age I am now. What’s that all about? 🤔 (inquisitive)
Hi S. Thanks for commenting and reaching out! When the first image that comes to mind is you at your current age, this may indicate that the emotional experience is so relevant in your current life, it is difficult to see past, and into the origins. Be patient with yourself, and I hope you will keep practicing. Try asking yourself, does this emotion (find the one word label for the emotions) feel familiar? When in my history, and family did this feeling begin, or first show up strongly? Your adult mind has build a lot of structures to protect yourself from going back to those more vulnerable times. But the closer you move into little you, and offer the love and compassion you needed then, the sooner the structures can dissolve and/or become more adaptive to your needs, and the needs of your current situation. So you can be more effective! Hope this helps, and keep practicing! Lara
I’m so grateful to have stumbled across your book. This exercise was well needed. I’ve felt a lot of uneasy emotions yet some type of calmness, especially talking to my passenger (16 year old me) I am 19 years old. A lot of tears were shed. Yet i am unsure where those feelings & tears were coming from. I’ve been hurt in the past, from family, friendships & relationships but I have mentally blocked those experiences off in my head, yet the emotions of hurt, anger, regret & sadness still linger on. I feel as if I haven’t healed from my past but how can I when most of what’s caused me pain is blocked off in my mind? My passengers are definitely close to me in the drivers seat. Still affecting my relationships. i definitely feel numb & very disconnected with myself, my mind & my body. i feel clueless most of the time, like i don’t know what to do to help myself. lack of motivation. no purpose to keep on trying yet i feel as if i keep on sinking. I appreciate your work. I need to find a psychologist like you.
Hi Giselle, Thank you for sharing your experience! Tears are a sign that we are connecting to something important. So, well done! It sounds like you definitely experienced the opposite of the day to day ‘numbing’ and disconnection many of us use to get through the pains and disappointments of life. The key is in finding the balance. Taking moments, like in this exercise, to reconnect to yourself, and what is important to you. I’m excited for your journey! Please feel free to reach out if you would care to share more, or ask any questions. Warmly, Lara
When I tried this exercise I couldn’t picture 8-year-old version of myself crying because on all my childhood photos I am pictured smiling and that’s the way I think of myself at that age.
However, after I held her in my lap telling her I will be there for her and never let her down or abandon her, I had trouble letting go of her. I wanted to keep holding and hugging her.
Does it mean something?
Hello dear Yaris, First of all, Yay You! for diving in and practicing connecting with yourself. As you noticed, you learned something very important about both the grown up part of you and the child/vulnerable part. It sounds like you found how much little you is craving authentic attention. And I’m happy to hear that grown up you was able and wanting to give it! I believe that is a very important healing place to begin. . . Over time, as you practice this and other exercises like it in Ch. 8, you will be building your psychological flexibility. Your ability to be there for the vulnerable parts of yourself – and also step away from the urges and needs of your child self so you can continue to build a grown up life that keeps her safe and happy. When you notice you don’t want to move away, that is because something about the experience was pleasant for you. And that is a good thing. Skillfulness is always in the balance: Too much holding to the soft and vulnerable (village mode) and we don’t get things done towards our goals, too much hardening towards our deeper needs and we get cut off from our authentic self, loose touch with creativity and what we care deeply about. I can’t wait to hear more about your journey! Warmly, Lara
With this practice I remembered my uncle being violent with me and my other cousins. I was like 11 years old I felt so scared. Since that I don’t feel confident when I’m in the middle of a discussion with my boyfriend or in my job, when there is some confrontation I get stuck, blocked and I feel a lot of anxiety. So I guess that Im constantly trying to by pass confrontation because my passenger is that feeling of fear that paralice me. Thank you. 🙏🏻
When I thought about my child version, I wanted to hold her tightly.
I just met the turkish translation of your “mastering adulthood” book and I’m so happy to read it.. I am reading with underlining almost all pages:) Thank you
Hello Hande, I am thrilled to hear that you are enjoying the book! And very happy to hear you are practicing the skills and taking good care of younger you. Please feel free to send me any questions you might have along your journey. It’s very warm regards, Lara
Hi, there. I was not sure about whether I was doing it in the right way. I was not able to visualize that particular moment, it was a blur. I felt incompetent again as I usually do after any failed attempt. But I was feeling calmer while trying to do the exercise.
Hi Abhirup, I’m so proud of you for giving it a try! And I hope you will stick with it. I want you to know that it is very common to have difficulty with visualization at first. Particularly if the event you are recalling was particularly painful. So, I give you permission to be kind to yourself on this one. Also, as you continue through the book, you will learn more skills for working with the added difficulty of the judgments of ‘incompetence’ and related emotions. We are all incompetent when we start something new, that is how we learn. And I am super proud of you for taking on this new adventure in your life! I hope you will continue to check in here! Warmly, Lara
For this exercise, I thought about the situation I’m in currently, moving out of my parents’ house and starting a new job after college, which I know is a positive change but has been causing me a lot of anxiety because of the uncertainty. I saw anxiety as my 5 year old self in the passenger seat next to me. They seemed uncomfortable and scared, and they wanted me to turn the car around and go back, or just stop driving altogether. I felt bad seeing this child look so fearful, and it brought up a lot of sadness for adult me, which surprised me. I tried to offer them some support.
Thank you for your lovely share Aish. The sadness you experienced, seeing 5 year old you, makes me wonder about the function of that sadness. Recall from chapter 2, that every emotion has a function and message. What does sadness say? There has been some sort of a loss. So, what does adult you ‘loose’ in some sense, if you feel anxious? Or maybe, the primary emotion is sadness, and anxiety the secondary emotion. It would make sense to feel some sadness (i.e. loss) as you transition deeper into adulthood, leaving your parental home. . . I hope you are continuing your practices! And look forward to hearing from you again. Lara