In our home we have a redirection chair. Whenever we have an emotion that is self-destructive or negative, we sit in the redirection chair. This activity usually follows the phrase: “It’s okay to feel like that, but it’s not okay to act like that.”
Understanding why we feel a certain way can help us move towards a more productive outcome, self-respect and confidence. I remember the one episode of Everybody Loves Raymond where Raymond’s brother, Robert tries to mediate a family disagreement by finding the underlying cause of the dispute. He mentions that sometimes when we have a fight the reason isn’t the present circumstances, but an emotion or trigger that hasn’t been dealt with. Marie chimes in by explaining in length how she collected oil from her cooking and saved it for years, just to have Frank throw it out. In the end Robert confesses that it could simply just be about the oil too.
This revelation has stuck with me.
Before exploring the intentions, perceived alternative motives or feelings of something that made us angry, frustrated or sad, let’s take a step back and put things into context. My children love the redirection chair, they sometimes put themselves in it. They explore the events that happened before the outburst, why they feel this way and how we can be better in future. I always impress on them that any emotion is valid and has a purpose. Some emotions are messengers for stuff we have to deal with that isn’t always clear.
Redirection is a life skill that they can rely on throughout their lives. They may not always have a chair to sit on, but with practice, their minds will have the ability to redirect at any time, in any circumstance. The act of sitting down or taking yourself out of the situation to re-assess, whether physically or just mentally has numerous benefits. Stilling your emotions to see if there is an underlying cause or trigger that warrants this intense feeling, or if it was like the oil in the example above, merely about this specific event. It’s our ability to view ourselves somewhat objectively without judgement towards ourselves or another, that we can move in a redirection of enlightenment.
Journaling is a powerful way to keep track of our redirections. Writing down exactly what happened, how you felt, how the other people felt and the outcome of the situation. The answers will appear on the page. Read it back to yourself as if it was a story. Journaling allows for that separation from intensity to a more calm state.
Once we have the answers to why we act a certain way, we can journal down a strategy for dealing with it in a healthy and constructive manner.