Yesterday I drove several hours with my children and their two friends to drop them off at overnight camp in which they’d be working on a farm. Halfway through the ride they began discussing how the best way to cope with homesickness as my youngest had started to tear up. It was fascinating to hear what strategies these kids, ages 8 through 11 came up with to deal with a week away from home.
It was interesting to listen to a group of girls first begin to tell my daughter not to cry. I also chimed in with this advice. Taking this first step makes sense though it’s not ideal. When we see others in emotional pain, it often causes us to try to eliminate it from others. Why is this? As a mom I know that I don’t like to see my child suffer in any shape or form, but as a coach I know it is actually beneficial because my daughter, through discomfort, will better learn how to work with negative emotion. However, I’ve noticed the more I normalize crying as a reasonable response to painful thought, the quicker she works through it. Instead of resisting the release, she allows it and she works through it. One of the girls offered up various distraction strategies, which can be helpful of course, but not necessarily for long-term coping. We spent some time talking about how she could visit with the farm animals and get involved in the activities thus forcing her mind to focus on the present moment as opposed to her thoughts about feeling homesick.
The magic happened when her little friend offered up this question “What if you could be homesick and still have fun?” The question caused all of us to pause and consider. My youngest thought for a long time and said that she didn’t realize this was an option. They then remembered a girl from a previous year who spent the majority of her time huddled up in a corner crying for her mom. All involved agreed that this wasn’t the most ideal way to spend a week, so we started brainstorming, what thoughts could they that won’t invoke homesickness the entire time they were away. The kids then came up with beautiful intentional thoughts to think, i.e. “We can feel homesick, but still have fun” or “just because I am away I can still feel close to my parents”, or my favorite “Home is wherever I go and I am bringing home with me”. This long car ride coaching session helped me realize that we can just allow ourselves to feel what we fear we will feel, allow it to pass through, and be really intentional about a new way of thinking in order to invoke a new way of feeling.
Remember, half of our lives will be spent feeling negative. Instead of fighting this reality, sometimes its best to accept it, feel it, and move on. When we realize it is not the circumstance causing our pain (i.e. over night camp in this example) rather our thoughts about it, then we can set ourselves free because WE are the ones causing our own suffering by the way we are thinking about the circumstance. What if we felt homesick and got through the camp anyways? What if you did whatever you have been holding back from in fear and did it regardless? The world would be limitless. So feel what you fear feeling, and go out and still get what you want. If my writing resonates with you at all, please don’t hesitate to sign up for a complimentary mini-session. Click here to schedule.