In one of his most famous novels, The Picture of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde writes, “I don’t want to be at the mercy of my emotions. I want to use them, to enjoy them, and to dominate them.” When someone is solely controlled by their emotions, they are often headed down a destructive road.
To be clear, being controlled by your emotions is not the same as expressing your emotions. It is certainly not the same as simply having emotions. In fact, experiencing a full range of emotions is vital to enjoying a whole and healthy human experience.
Allowing Emotional Expression
When it comes to your child, it’s good to keep this in mind. When you see your child out of control and highly emotional, it’s natural to want to suppress those expressions. While this instinct is understandable, it can also be damaging to an adolescent’s already tenuous well-being.
Here at Clearview Girls Academy, we believe in the concept of getting “messy” in recovery. What exactly do we mean by “messy”? What we mean is we believe it is vital for our students to express their emotions fully – both the positive ones and the so-called negative ones. Hence the emotional descriptor we help girls embrace is this: “Mad, glad, sad, and afraid.”
What Do We Mean by “Mad, Glad, Sad, and Afraid”?
“Mad, glad, sad, and afraid” are the emotions we want to allow our students to feel safe to express. We chose those specific emotions because there is a belief in many psychological communities that “mad, glad, sad, and afraid” are the four foundational emotions. Of course, there are offshoots from each of them.
Many students who come to Clearview Girls Academy are suffering from a lack of control over their emotions. This lack of control often leads to behavioral outbursts, or even worse, a shutting down due to the bottling up of emotions.
Becoming Emotionally Aware
We know how disconcerting it can be to see your daughter suffering either outwardly or inwardly (or often both) from emotional difficulties. That is why at Clearview Girls Academy we make an early effort to focus on our students’ emotions.
We encourage our students to get as “messy” (as we call it) as they want to be. It is important that our students feel safe to purge all of the negative emotions that have been holding them back. If girls can’t acknowledge and become aware of their emotions, they won’t be able to fully heal.
Why Is Emotional Expression So Important at Clearview Girls Academy?
In his book, A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose, self-help author Eckhart Tolle writes, “Rather than being your thoughts and emotions, be the awareness behind them.” We don’t teach our students only to express and purge their emotions; we want them to understand where the emotions originate.
We feel it’s important to help our students cultivate mindful emotional awareness. Once a student can visualize their emotions, they are then able to combat them. Yes, we mean literally visualize their emotions. This visualization often results from expressing their emotions outwardly.
When our students are mad, we want them to see what it looks and feels like to shout out “Why!?” Of course, when they are glad, it is fantastic to see them freely laugh. When they are sad, we want them to embrace their tears. When they are afraid, we want them to see what that does to their bodily sensations and embrace the humanness of it.
Once these emotions have come to the forefront, we have a better chance of getting them on the road to recovery sooner. Therapy cannot be successful unless there is honesty, and there can be no external honesty until they are first honest with themselves.
Finding the Cause
If there is a prevalence of sadness, sometimes that is part of a diagnosis of anxiety and depression. If fear is prominent then there may be some undiagnosed trauma. Even prolonged, excessive happiness could have something underlying that is more serious such as bipolar disorder. Aside from possible diagnoses, we can help our students uncover the underlying traumas or events that may have contributed to their emotional imbalance.
Whatever the diagnosis may be, the good news is that Clearview Girls Academy has a myriad of treatment options for this entire range of emotions. However, it is important to remember that our goal is never to suppress these emotions. Rather, we try to facilitate an understanding of these emotions and thus help girls achieve better control over them.
The Importance of Emotional Balance in Recovery
How boring a world it would be without emotions. Can you imagine? What would it be like if you were not able to feel joy at your child’s accomplishments? Or if you could not share in your daughter’s pain when life doesn’t go their way? It would be a pretty bleak world, wouldn’t it?
The groundbreaking neuroscientist, Joseph LeDoux, tells us that “emotions are the critical source for learning.” Isn’t that our primary purpose as human beings, to be constantly growing and learning?
That is our primary purpose here at Clearview Girls Academy. We want to help our students grow into the young women that these unmanageable emotions are obscuring. We want to help your daughter grow into an emotionally balanced adult. We believe that feeling a full range of healthy emotions – and responding to them in productive and useful ways – is what life is all about.
Expressing a full range of emotions can be crucial to your daughter’s ability to experience a life that is happy, joyous, and free. That is why we feel it is so important to allow our students to get “messy” with their emotions at Clearview Girls Academy. Many of our students show up emotionally troubled and lost. The way to help them find their emotional voice again is not by quieting them but by allowing them to shout and purge all of those pent-up emotions. If you feel like your daughter is struggling, lost, and needs help finding her way back to herself, Clearview Girls Academy can help. For more information, please contact us at (888) 796-5484.