Thoughts on fostering growth through empathy
- a blog for parents -
Today is Heritage Day in Alberta, Canada. The provincial holiday gives Albertans a chance to celebrate the many social, culinary, and artistic aspects of Alberta's diverse cultural heritage.
And so...I decided to consider another aspect of "heritage": our emotional heritage. The way we understand, engage with, manage, and address the broad spectrum of emotions we experience as human beings (with the full acknowledgement that many other groups of animals - mammals & birds in my life experience with my multi-species family - also experience the same breadth and depth of emotions - we just can't talk to them about it!).
You see, whatever cultural background people come from, it occurred to me that, with no known exception, we experience diversity in our emotional heritage. Some families from my cultural tradition are able to experience and share joy, but not anger. Others engage with shame, but not fear. Some are open to most emotions. Some are open to few. From "wearing ones heart on ones sleeve" to "keeping a stiff upper lip" and everything in between, the combinations and permutations of our emotional heritage vary from household to household, irrespective of cultural heritage.
This are our emotional heritage: the emotions that were welcomed, tolerated, or otherwise acknowledged in your family of origin will be easier for you to express, engage with and support in your family and children; the emotions that were not allowed expression, tolerated, or acknowledged in your family of origin will be more difficult for you to express, engage with and support in your family and children.
What emotions were acceptable in your family of origin? Which ones weren't?
How can you learn to be open to the ones you were unable to express in your family of origin?