Have you ever watched a baby experience emotions?
Babies can’t tell stories so their emotions are clean. They feel pure emotion without any narrative.
For example, if you take away a baby’s favorite toy, they just feel sad. They feel, “I want the toy and it’s not here so I’m sad.” Period.
They don’t feel, “This always happens to me and it probably always will and it’s not fair. And if I were smarter or cuter I’d have that toy so I must not be good enough”.
When you add your narrative, the clean emotion of sadness gets tainted and it turns very dirty. It becomes a dirty blob of sad + shame + resistance + arguing with reality + whatever else.
That dirty blob is what a human adult might feel, but not a baby. Babies are too smart for that nonsense.
There are lots of benefits to doing it the baby way.
First, without a narrative you don’t get the really messy emotions like guilt and shame. Guilt and shame are totally narrative-based. Without a narrative, you get to stick with cleaner, more basic emotions like sadness and fear.
Second, and most important, you move through negative emotion QUICKLY. Babies just feel what they feel, and they really feel it. When you really allow yourself to feel what you feel, it gets to move through you in no time.
Babies don’t deny or resist how they feel the way adults do.
Babies don’t know enough to distract themselves in hopes of dodging a negative emotion. They don’t turn to wine or online shopping or compulsive twitter or cake when they feel badly. They just feel badly.
And soon, they don’t feel badly. Because when you play it that way, the feeling badly is over very quickly.
Seriously, watch a baby. As I was writing this, I could hear my baby crying in the other room. She cried for about 20 seconds. Then there was silence for a minute or so. Then I heard her talking and laughing.
And it happens this way all the time. Babies can’t tell stories that make emotions dirty. They can’t resist emotions, so the emotions fly right by.
Babies really know what’s up.