How to Celebrate Mother's Day with Emotional Intelligence
by Susan Dunn
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I am a mother. I had a mother. I write about emotional intelligence. There is nothing more emotional than
I am a mother. I had a mother. I write about emotional intelligence. There is nothing more emotional than "mother."
1. Be prepared to welcome some visceral emotions.
We depend absolutely on our mothers for survival, and this sort of feeling, or instinct resides in the reptilian brain, hundreds of millions of years old and 'set' to keep us alive. Therefore it sends very strong messages.
2. It was never a thought in the first place ...
So our feelings for our mother are visceral, often wordless. There's poetry, of course, and that line is from something by Frost about poetry ... it starts with a feeling he said ... it never was a thought in the first place. Most of us when asked about our mothers fall silent, with strong emotion - great love, great hatred, often mixed. It is not easy to put our mother into words.
3. If you plan something for your mother this Mother's Day, and you have children, please verbalize what you're doing and why.
We teach emotional intelligence to our children whether we want to or not, whether ours is good or not. One way to help children increase their EQ and to internalize it is to describe what we're doing and why. Some examples:
"I'm making Nana's favorite cake because I love her and want her to feel special." "We're celebrating Mother's Day today because I love being your Mom, and Dad and I want to honor this occasion. We do this by being together and talking about the day and our feelings, by having a great meal, and by talking about our own mothers too--Nana and Grammy." "I love Mimi so I want to do something special for her. I know! I'll get her some perfume. I know she'd like that although I don't. When we give a gift, we think about what the other person would like, not what we would like. What do you think Mimi would like?" (If your son says "a car," your work is cut out for you. :)
4. Use Intentionality.
Maybe things aren’t going great with your mother right now. Maybe you wished your husband would do something in your honor for Mother's Day and he didn't. Maybe your adult children didn't remember you the way you would've liked. Set your Intentionality -- how do you intend this holiday to go? Do you plan to not be pleased, whatever happens? Do you plan to enjoy your day, whatever happens? Do you plan to honor your motherhood yourself and celebrate? It's up to you. Intentionality means being accountable to yourself for your motives.
5. Celebrate with Personal Power.
Don't expect your children, husband and other relatives to read your mind. If something's important to you, speak up. Make requests! Express preferences!
6. Constructive discontent.
This EQ competency refers to anger management, and also, I think, to internal conflict, because we can have constructive discontent within ourselves. If your 'brains' are fighting -- You love your mom in your gut of guts (reptilian brain) but you're angry with her because she failed you last week (limbic), bring it up to the neocortex and think it through before you act or respond. What would bring about the best result this Mother's Day? How can you self-soothe? What's the best response, acknowledging your feelings but not granting them more power than is necessary? Is perfectionism lurking about? Is dwelling in anger worth the stress it subjects your body to physiologically?
7. Be adamantly and relentlessly forgiving.
Why? Because it's good for you, and also the only way you can forgive others, and our mothers -- you know this if you are one -- are only human, but because of our absolute dependence upon them initially, we expect incredible things from them and are mightily distressed when they don't occur, as if our lives depended upon it, because at one time they did. For the times you failed as a mother, forgive yourself; for the times your mother failed you as a mother, forgive her.
8. It's a good time to be flexible.
This may be a family event for you. For many of us, it will be a multicultural event. People from different cultures have deeply ingrained ways of doing things that aren't always comprehensible to others. If your extended family includes several cultures, as some of my clients' do, and people show up hours late or not at all or with 4 houseguests you don't even know and 2 of them need transportation to the airport, and the roast you made isn't going to stretch far enough (and this isn't your way) -- get your knees bent. Or they're far "fussier" than you and worry over details, demand rigid schedules and brook no spontaneity -- remember to laugh. Plan an open house, put a pot of stew on the stove, expect the unexpected, focus on the moment and enjoy the people.
9. On this holiday, if you aren't a mother, or if you aren't a mother and wanted to be and never will be, or if you're a mother whose child has died ...
Resilience means growing through hard times, not just going through them; building up stress tolerance; learning to tolerate misfortune, adversity, heartbreak and loss and bounce back; having the courage to grieve; and retaining faith and hope for the future and in the goodness of life. People may not know what to say, may not be able to reach you in any event. It will be a hard day.
10. Celebrate with optimism!
The essence of optimism, the facilitator of emotional intelligence, is not the up side but rather avoiding the downward spiral. Approach the day with optimism, expecting the best. If things go amiss, avoid the 3 Ps - personalization (it's my fault), permanence (it will always be that way), and pervasiveness (and it applies to everything else). Don't dwell, distract yourself. Focus on the good.
About the Author
Susan Dunn, The EQ Coach, GLOBAL EQ. Emotional intelligence coaching to enhance all areas of your life - career, relationships, midlife transition, resilience, self-esteem, parenting. EQ Alive! - excellent, accelerated, affordable EQ coach certification. Susan is the author of numerous ebooks, is widely published on the Internet, and a regular speaker for cruise lines. For marketing services go here.