Accepting negative feelings and using them as a means of raising an individual to become empathetic, Michelle Henderson and Marci McPhee welcomed in the Winter 2019 Semester with a talk about emotion coaching and service.
Attendees were given postcards and greeted with smiles as they walked through the doors of the Aloha Center Ballroom. Organizers wanted everyone to participate by using the postcards to reach out to someone. The luncheon also featured a variety of food, such as chili, salad, bread and ice cream, which was available for everyone who attended the event.
President of the BYU–Hawaii Women’s Organization Michelle Henderson, explained, “The more empathy you have for others, the more inclined you are to serve – and when your feelings are validated, the more empathy you are able to have. Likewise, those who receive service, also join this process because when their needs are met, they too can serve others.”
Henderson quoted psychologist John Gottman’s explanation of what emotional coaching was. “[Parents] don’t object to their children’s displays of anger, sadness or fear nor do they ignore them. Instead, they accept negative emotions as a fact of life, and they use emotional moments as opportunities for teaching their kids important life lessons and building closer relationships with them.”
She then asked the audience to raise their hands if they ever felt sad and angry. After everyone in the room raised their hands, Henderson said those feelings were valid. Life will have its own share of good days and bad days, and emotional coaching helps us become aware of those feelings.
“Emotion coaching lays this foundation for creating a culture of service in our homes and in our families. Setting this foundation of validating emotions makes it possible to have one’s own emotional needs met so we can have empathy for others,” said Henderson.
Marci McPhee, the second speaker, told a story of how a child wanted to be kind to someone with special needs but was afraid of approaching them due to their behavior. The child was particularly sensitive and whenever the boy with cerebral palsy yelled, it upset her.
As a form of advice, a teacher replied, saying, “You can’t force a child or anyone to be understanding and loving. It takes time to teach love and understanding, especially around those who are so different from your own reality. The ultimate goal is love for this little child, but the first step is acceptance.”
McPhee continued to quote the teacher saying, “You can’t move towards understanding and then towards love until you accept the disability and the child with the disability. To teach acceptance, you have to let people talk about what they feel. The little girl was scared, and that’s okay… Behaviors can be good or bad, but all feelings are okay.”
Henderson shared that she didn’t like people to see service as a one-way process; rather, she wanted them to view it as a give and take cycle. “We need to serve others just as much as we need to receive service. This is the ebb and flow of service which creates a community of love, mutual respect and empathy for one another.”
Kaitlyn DeMartini, a member of the community in Laie, said she liked the story in John 6: 5-12, which was shared by McPhee during the luncheon. She said, “What stuck with me was that they didn’t have enough to feed the people but, if they gave everything they had, Jesus would make it enough. Sometimes we want to offer service, but we’re afraid it’s not enough. But if we just offer what we have or what we can do, then Jesus will make it enough.”
Molly Curtis, from Utah, loved how the speakers made the service feel obtainable. She said, “You don’t have to spend a lot of time or money to serve other people, and it doesn’t have to be outside of your own home.”