(I wrote this piece for the August newsletter of the California Association of American Mothers, Inc.: https://www.americanmothers.org/)
Let’s be honest: women sometimes deserve our reputation of being too emotional. When our emotions help us experience compassion for another and prompt us to help, they can be a great gift. But when our emotions take over and push us around, causing us to do and say things we later regret, they have stepped out of their proper boundaries. The virtue that helps us stay in control when our emotions run high is called meekness, which Carrie Gress describes as “the embodiment of deep interior strength and authentic mastery over our emotions” (from chapter 8 of Ultimate Makeover: The Transforming Power of Motherhood).
Instead of letting our emotions dictate our actions, we should strive to keep our emotions under the healthy influence of our intellect and our will. The great insights of cognitive-behavioral therapy are tapping into this reality: what we think and do (intellect and will) when challenges occur can influence how we feel (emotions). For example, when a child does something that drives us crazy, we can take a deep breath, remind ourselves of the child’s age, and ask ourselves something like, “What does this child truly need right now?” Such a habit can help us keep our cool and respond in a wise and productive way. Motherhood calls us to rise above our emotions and put love into action even when we really don’t want to.
May God bless you all this summer and always!