Ep. 88 Life Skills: Emotional Adulthood

In this episode, I bring you a life coaching tool called Emotional Adulthood. Listeners love the podcasts that they can apply to the rest of their lives outside of dance, so this one is for YOU!

When we are in Emotional Childhood, we are operating more like children in our emotional lives. It is characterized be a relinquishing of responsibility for how we feel and act. In this state, you would find yourself making other people responsible for how you feel. You are unhappy because your spouse doesn’t text you enough during the day. You are angry because your children don’t listen. You are fearful because of your parents or your childhood or something else outside of you.

It’s not that these things don’t contribute, they do, but in this episode I teach you how to be an emotional adult, take responsibility for how you feel and act so that you can be the person that you want to be more of the time. In emotional adulthood, we don’t have to wait for others to behave in the ways we prefer in order for us to be happy. We take out the middle man.

I should warn you though…emotional adulthood isn’t easy. But it’s worth it and this tool can change your life. Enjoy!

For help figuring out this for yourself, might I recommend a free ⁠⁠⁠Dance Strategy Call⁠⁠⁠

If you want a ballroom community with a hefty side of mental and emotional resilience, join my Facebook Group, ⁠⁠⁠Joyful Ballroom⁠⁠

Hey friends. Welcome to the podcast recently in my free Facebook group, joyful ballroom. I was asking the people in there, the members, what their favorite podcast episodes were. And I’ve gotten a few responses. What I thought was kind of interesting was the people who were responding. I started to see this pattern where they were saying, I like these episodes and they would list the episodes because they not only apply to dancing, but they also apply to other areas of my life.

And so I had this idea and I thought, you know what? Early, really early on, I had the idea that I would share some of these life coaching tools that I use in my general life coaching practice. And I, and I did share a little bit in the beginning, but I kind of let go of that. So I thought, Oh my gosh, I should just restart that.

And I’ll share some more of those general life coaching tools. And you’ll see, these are tools that apply to your life, but also apply to your dancing, of course. So the first one that I wanted to start with was emotional adulthood. And this is a concept that could potentially change your entire life because it can potentially change the whole way that you’re operating in the world.

Sometimes I think talking about emotional adulthood is easier to approach from emotional childhood. So let’s start with what emotional childhood might look like when we are in emotional childhood. We are acting emotionally much like a child would imagine how a child behaves. They are going to act more emotionally.

Let’s say like they’re going to react to their emotions when they feel something it’s quite visible on them, right? They might act out their emotions or they also might avoid their emotions. They don’t take full responsibility for how they feel. It’s always someone else’s fault. And this is not totally the kids fault because we were all conditioned this way where we were told things like you need to invite everybody in your class to your birthday party because we don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. Or grandma would come to visit and we would say give grandma a hug and a kiss because we don’t want her to feel bad or when something happens and we feel hurt we say: They hurt my feelings. So we’re giving credit to things outside of us and we were all kind of conditioned this way and so this is how kids see the world and and why they why we feel what we feel is often attributed to things outside of us.

Now I’m not talking about emotional childhood, like it’s a bad thing. I do think that this is appropriate for that age. It is appropriate for kids to behave in this way. And it’s partially because we teach them that. But that’s also just developmentally where they are with their brain and where it’s at.

Kids don’t have the developed brain that is as aware of what they are thinking. They’re not as aware of what they’re thinking and feeling and like where it’s coming from and why, but adults can reflect on what they’re thinking and feeling. They can decide what to think, no matter what anyone else is doing, but it’s very common to maintain emotional childhood into our adulthood because.

It’s what we know, and we’re rarely taught any different. There’s no college class that you go to that’s about emotional adulthood. I mean, some of you might’ve gotten to a class that taught you emotional adulthood, but most of us have not. As children, we believe that the circumstances are creating our feelings.

So if you remember in episode 24, when I introduced the model, I don’t talk about it a ton with the podcast. I do it with my clients more often, but in episode 24, we talked about the model, which is there are circumstances in your life and those circumstances will trigger thoughts. And you will have those thoughts and then those thoughts will generate feelings and emotions in you.

And then those emotions will drive the way that you behave. And then all of that comes together and gives you a result in your life. So when we are in emotional childhood, we are believing that the circumstances are creating what we feel and in turn how we act. So we will blame other people for how we’re behaving.

But between the circumstance happening and the emotion, there’s often thoughts. And your thoughts are created by your experiences, your history, your conditioning, the way you were raised, everything that’s happened to you in your life. And so you are always looking through your specific, unique lens. And that is what is creating your thoughts, and that’s why you interpret things in certain ways.

So when we move into adulthood, we often bring that idea that circumstances create our feelings. We often bring that with us into adulthood. So for example, we might be upset because of our husband’s actions, right? Or we’re mad because our kids didn’t listen. And when we say it that way, We’re saying the circumstance is creating the way that I feel now, let me just state for the record, our emotions don’t happen in a vacuum.

Okay. We are in each other’s lives. We do behave in certain ways and that has consequences. So we are in each other’s models. We are the circumstances for one another. But when we give the responsibility to others outside of us for how we feel, it’s quite dis-empowering. And you’ll find that you end up blaming everyone else for how you feel and what your experience is.

So you might recognize that you’re an emotional childhood if you feel negative emotion and then you start looking outside yourself. You start looking around to figure out what is the reason, why do I feel this way? You might find yourself blaming the government. We blame our spouse, we blame our kids, we blame our bosses and our co workers and we blame our exes for how we feel and we blame our parents for how we feel and how we act and we blame our childhood for how we feel and how we act.

We say, I’m this way because. of my parents, obviously. I’m this way because of how I was raised. And it’s not that our parents weren’t involved, right? They were in the circumstances. They were there, but we also don’t want to totally abdicate our responsibility for our own feelings and our own experience.

This is why kids in a family will have the same experiences with parents, but they interpret it very differently. They feel differently and they behave differently as a result. What happened with the parents doesn’t definitively determine what happens in how you feel. There is some variation because of who you are and how you think and how you experience things.

Things happened, okay, now what? That’s being more of an emotional adult. An emotional adult means taking responsibility for how you feel. Both the good and the bad, both the pain and the joy. Emotional adulthood is not expecting other people to make us feel something. They don’t need to make us feel happy or make us feel secure.

It’s understanding that we are the ones actually that hurt our own feelings with our own thoughts. I’m going to come back to that in a minute. But let’s explore why we would want to take full responsibility for our feelings. When other people are responsible, then we can’t be happy until they behave in the ways that we have prescribed.

So then we’re kind of stuck, we’re kind of, we become victims in our life, or at the very least, or at the mercy of other people, we keep trying to control them, we keep trying to get them to act in the ways that we want them to act so that we can feel better. And so it leads us to try to control them, we try to manipulate them, because if we could just get them to act the way that we want, then we would get to feel the ways that we want, and so we’re using them as the middleman.

So it might mean that we’re trying to force an apology so that we can feel better. I can’t feel better until they apologize. Or we instruct our husband that you need to text me throughout the day so that I can feel loved. So I can believe that you love me. We give them a list of ways that they should be behaving, or we tell them all the ways in which they’re doing it all wrong.

And I’m upset, and I feel this way because you’re not doing anything right. Many of us have also been on the other end of that, where the people in our lives are telling us we’re doing it wrong and that we need to change the way that we behave so that they can be happy. And we don’t like this. The people in our lives don’t like this.

And actually, we don’t like this. Nobody wants to be controlled or manipulated. And when we need to control the people outside of us, we need to manipulate them to feel better. It makes us kind of needy, makes us controlling. Nobody likes that. Okay. Notice how when we’re in emotional childhood, we sort of act like kids.

We kind of throw little tantrums or rage fits, and we might cry or exhibit big emotions to try to get somebody’s attention. If you find yourself escalating what you’re saying, escalating your behavior to try to get a reaction out of someone, you’re in emotional childhood. We’re also in emotional childhood when we’re, we’re going to be looking for more instant gratification.

We want to get our way, we try to control people to get our way. In emotional childhood, we’re blaming others for how we feel, and we also will blame them for how we act. I wouldn’t act this way if you would just be different. And in emotional childhood, we’re just more dependent on people for our happiness.

When we want to be emotional adults, we start to take responsibility for how we feel. We start to take responsibility for our own emotional well being. And as I’ve told you before, and as it’s demonstrated in the model, how we think largely creates how we feel. So when we choose consciously and intentionally how we want to think and feel about something, then we choose a response instead of reacting, like a knee jerk reflex.

Now, I want to be clear and say, I’m not saying that we shouldn’t be emotional. I’m not saying that we should never have emotions that we don’t choose. We will still react at times. You guys know, I’m a big believer in being human. And humans react at times. And we act in ways that we’re not proud of. And we just are still going to be human.

We’re still going to have emotions pop up. But being an emotional adult has to do with what we do next. It has to do with who are we holding responsible for how we feel and what are we going to do about it. So rather than acting out of control, feeling like we’re at the mercy of other people, trying to control and manipulate other people.

We can just feel whatever those emotions are that come up. We can process them. Take a second to consider our ownership in it. What’s our part in it? So that we can do something constructive with it and something intentional with it in our actions and then move forward, we will still make mistakes. We will still act in ways we aren’t proud of.

We’ll still have those knee jerk reactions. But when we keep as much ownership as possible, we can recognize the times that we create our own pain. And if we are the creator of our pain, that’s very good news. Because then that means we can get ourselves out of it. And we can move forward, rather than feeling out of control or at the mercy of others.

We get to decide just how we want to think and feel about it and then operate from there. Let me give you a little example. I’m not sure if it’s the best example, but it is an example. So let’s say my friend said something behind my back that I felt was hurtful and I heard it. I do feel hurt. She was in the circumstance of my model, right?

She said some words and I had thoughts about it that led to me having feelings. were painful. And traditionally we would say, she hurt my feelings. When I heard what she said, I had thoughts like, I thought she was my friend. She betrayed me. I can’t believe she did that. And what she said was so mean. It’s these thoughts that are creating the pain that I feel.

She was there. She was the circumstance, but I had thoughts that made me feel the pain. But listen, I’m not saying I shouldn’t have those thoughts. I don’t actually want to change this. When someone I think is my friend says something I think is unkind. These kinds of thoughts are appropriate, and they, I want to feel hurt if somebody close to me behaves in that way.

When someone I think is my friend says something unkind, these kinds of thoughts are appropriate, and I want to feel hurt about it on some level. And it might seem like semantics when I say, I am thinking thoughts that make me feel hurt, rather than saying, she hurt me. But this little shift in my verbiage allows me to keep the ownership over how I feel about it.

And it gives me the ownership of what I do next. And its purpose isn’t to absolve her of her poor behavior. That’s on her. That’s who she wants to be for some reason. I don’t know the reasons for her behaving in that way. That’s on her. And I’m not saying it’s okay. Like, I shouldn’t feel hurt about it.

This is some clean paint. Okay. And I’m going to process it and I’m going to deal with it. And I want to keep the pain a little bit. Cause I just, Think that I want to feel painful when something like this happens. But then, as I process it, I’m probably going to think something like, Ugh, I picked the wrong friend.

I gotta find some better friends. She’s not who I thought she was. But when I say to myself that she hurt my feelings, and I give her the responsibility, then I might feel like it’s up to her to make me feel better. So then I might need to correct it. I might need to force her to behave in some way. I might try to force an apology so that I can feel better, or I might question her because I might be believing I want to know why she would do such a thing, and if I could just understand it, then I could find a way to feel better, and it’s all dependent on her.

It’s all dependent on something outside of me, and that’s the part I want to change for us. So here’s where often people go next when I talk about this topic is they say, if I am responsible for my own thoughts and therefore my own feeling, then others are responsible for their own thoughts and their own feelings.

So if I do or say something, and they feel hurt, it’s their own fault. Their thoughts are hurting them. It’s their thoughts that cause their hurt and we kind of throw our hands up in the air. And so often when people are bringing this up to me, it’s because they’re trying to poke a hole in this concept and they’re trying to say, like, we shouldn’t be that way.

And I agree. I want to say, is that the kind of person that you want to be that disregards the way other people might be feeling? Does that sound like an emotional adult? To disregard what’s happening for others and ironically, often when you are in emotional childhood, you actually might act cruel or mean you might give somebody the silent treatment because you’re trying to get a certain reaction out of them because you’re trying to control what they feel and what they do.

But when you’re acting from emotional adulthood, we are much less likely to actually treat people this way. You’re much less likely to try to control and manipulate people. So you actually behave as you would desire more of the time. As an emotional adult, you’re also able to reflect on your own behaviors.

You know that you’re responsible for how you feel and therefore how you behave. And from that place, you are deciding what kind of a person you want to be. I want to be The type of person that considers how my actions affect the people around me. I know that they will create their own experience of me.

They will have an experience of themselves and they will put my face on it and they will give me credit, especially if they’re an emotional childhood. But I personally still want to consider how people receive me in general. I can self confront if I’m an emotional adulthood, I can self confront. If they might be right, my behavior might be out of line.

And I want to take a second to consider that. Maybe I need to check that. Sometimes I’ll find I probably was out of line. It at least teaches me how people are receiving me. And if there’s a pattern of people receiving me in a poor way, it might be them or it might be me. And I want to check that. Okay. So functioning from emotional adulthood means that I’m able to own up to my mistakes.

Now, listen, being an emotional adult is not easy. This is not easy stuff. As chaotic. And miserable and powerless that emotional childhood can be. We don’t have to take responsibility from that place. We get to blame other people and we get to put the work on them. And we just are kind of waiting for them to come around so that we can feel better.

So it’s like, it’s all their fault and we don’t have to take the responsibility. Being responsible is harder. It’s like being the parent versus being the child. You have to delay gratification. You have to sometimes put other people’s needs above our own. We have to consider how other people feel, we have to own up to our mistakes, we have to apologize when we make mistakes, but it’s work worth doing.

So here, I would offer to be kind to yourself as you think about this tool and how you might be operating in the world and just take little steps in some moments to move the needle towards operating more in emotional adulthood. And again, while it’s not easy, I promise it is worth it. Okay. I love you guys.

I hope this tool helps you and I hope you enjoy the, the other ones I’m going to bring you in coming weeks. So thanks for being here. We’ll catch you next time.

It’s time to

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Hi there,

I'm Amber haider

As an amateur ballroom dancer myself, I understand the issues that come up for dancers, the pressures of competing, and the desire to make the most of my ballroom experience. I also really like to WIN! As a Life Coach by vocation, I have the tools to cut through the mental garbage that is holding you back so that you can maximize your potential. Using my own tools, I have been able to skyrocket my own skills, learn faster, lessen the pressure, win more and have tons more fun. I can show you the way. Here’s a couple tools to get you started:

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