“And what about this one?” Teacher Lynn holds up a picture to the group of preschoolers. “Are we allowed to feel like this?” I move a little closer to get a clearer view of the photo depicting a little girl, tears streaming down her face.
Self-confident answers become more reluctant as the preschoolers wait for encouragement. A bright-eyed five-year-old eagerly nods his head up and down in response. Teacher Lynn smiles before she reassures them: “Of course we are allowed to feel sad. I also feel sad sometimes – especially over the weekends when I miss you an awful lot and Monday feels so far away”. Her eyes start to twinkle with excitement: “But what do I do with that feeling?”. She graciously moves to the other side of the room, spins around and starts to boogie. “I sing a little song and do a little dance until I feel better”.
In Marc Brackett’s book “Permission to feel”, he writes in the prologue how ‘we deny ourselves – and one another – the permission to feel’ (Brackett, 2019:3). This leads to our losing our ability to even identify what we’re feeling. Therefore, we might become unable to understand why we’re experiencing an emotion or what’s happening in our lives that’s causing it. And when we can’t recognize, understand, or put into words how we feel, Brackett says it’s impossible for us to do anything about it. He suggests that to master out feelings we should rather accept them, even embrace them and learn to make our emotions work for us, not against us.
Teacher Lynn applied Brackett’s suggestions with ease. She acknowledged the importance of being allowed to feel sad and therefore she was able to empower the preschoolers by giving them tools to react upon their sadness. Until they felt better. The healing often depends on the process.