The Emotional Freight Train is REAL and can take us on wild rides – especially during the teen years, There is no better way to shut down communication with a young person than to come at them with all the emotion of the EFT. Listen to this week’s solo show for solidarity, communication skills, and tips for staying off that train!
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Takeaways from the show
- What gets in the way of communication
- The physical experience of the Emotional Freight Train metaphor
- Personal story of getting on the EFT recently
- Why we get on the EFT
- Growing our awareness and understanding of our own EFT
- Finding the humility to own our behavior
- Supporting ourselves so as to spend less time on the EFT and more time working on curiosity, connection and understanding
Today Joyful Courage is sitting bedside in the hospital as my daughter gets the medicine she needs to fight a kidney infection. It is showing up for her with optimism and gentleness, trusting the doctors, the process, and that everything will be ok – so that SHE can trust the same. 💕Subscribe to the Podcast
emotional, freight train, talk, conversation, kids, triggers, parenting, work, relationship, feel, book, space, porn, reading, people, control, teens, stay, lose, husband
Casey O'Roarty 00:04
Hello, Welcome back. Welcome to the joyful courage podcast, a place for inspiration and transformation as we work to keep it together. While parenting our tweens and teens. This is real work people. And when we can focus on our own growth and nurturing the connection with our kids, we can move through the turbulence in a way that allows for relationships to remain intact. My name is Casey already, I am your fearless host. I'm a positive discipline trainer, space holder coach and the adolescent lead. It's browseable. Also mama to a 20 year old daughter and a 17 year old son, I am walking right beside you on the path of raising our kids with positive discipline and conscious parenting. This show is meant to be a resource to you and I work really hard to keep it really real, transparent and authentic so that you feel seen and supported. Today is a solo show, and I'm confident that what I share will be useful to you. Please don't forget sharing truly is caring. If you love today's show, please please pass the link around snap a screenshot posted on your socials or texted to your friends. Together, we can make an even bigger impact on families around the globe. If you're feeling extra special, you can rate and review us over in Apple podcasts. I'm so glad that you're here. Welcome. Welcome, welcome. Enjoy the show.
Casey O'Roarty 01:33
Hey, everybody. Hi, I'm so excited to be back again with you. Here in the solo show space. Just you and me. Just you and me and her huge. I was prompted into the topic for today. Through my own experience, I hear from a lot of you that you really appreciate that about me. Well, here you go. Here you go. So we talk a lot about relationship and holding space for hard conversations. Here in the joyful courage community. I've said that the most powerful tool we have for influencing behavior is the relationship that we grow and nurture with our teens. And a lot of you and clients tell me that you know, your kids just won't go there with you. They won't go there with you. And, you know, there's a lot of reasons for why that could be sometimes we hold a vision for relationship that just isn't like temperamentally, who our kids are and who we are. And so things get muddled when we think relationships should look a certain way, or conversations should go a certain way. And we're attached to that. And then we're disappointed when it doesn't go that way. So there's that. And then there's things that we actually do that influence how things are going with our kiddos. And you've heard me talk about communication, curiosity, non judgment, these are the keys to our kids, making sense of their lives, and ultimately making the choices that move them forward. Right, we want to use communication in a way that helps our kids make sense of their world. And drop in, you know, our values and our beliefs and our expectations. Of course, listening is super key. Staying out of our emotional headspace is key. And it's hard. And a few years back, actually four years ago, like almost to the day, which is crazy. I published a book, remember that those of you that have been around for a while might remember that I published a book still available on Amazon. It is called joyful courage, calming the drama and taking control of your parenting journey. And in it, I talked about the metaphor of the emotional freight train. So today, this solo show is going to be all about how the emotional freight train can really get in the way of communicating with our kids having hard conversations and ultimately, relationship. So yeah, the emotional freight train is a metaphor for what happens when our logical brain gets totally hijacked by the emotional brain. Right? You know what I'm talking about when you're moving along in your day and something comes up with one of your kids or your partner or You know, someone else, and you just kind of lose your shirt, you lose your mind, right? And you might know that it's coming because all of a sudden, belly gets tight or your shoulders kind of curl in maybe your face looks a certain way, right? Perhaps your heart begins to raise and your breath becomes a little bit more shallow, we can feel it, the emotional freight train is a physical experience of being triggered, right? Sometimes, as I write my book, we are standing at the station, and we can feel it coming. And we realize, Oh, dude, I got to go take care of myself. I know what's coming. Sometimes we don't recognize it that soon. And so we're on it. And our awareness might show up as we are raging at the people around us, which is what happened to me. Just last night, I'll tell you about it in a little bit. And, you know, we're in that place of complete lid, flip, freeze, flight or fight, we're saying doing the things that we know aren't useful. And yet, it's like, we don't have control of our body anymore. Right being on the train. And something that I share in my book is, and we'll talk about it later, how to stay off the train, or how to get off it once you realize that you're there. So the emotional freight train can show up in all of our relationships, right? No relationship is safe from the emotional freight train, and it causes havoc, right? It causes havoc inside of those relationships. Typically, it's triggered by a fear, lack of control, desperation, we are often in catastrophic thinking, you know, those lovely places where we hate to be and yet life is what it is and keeps taking us there. Right. It's where we feel self righteous and justified, and God dammit, I know that I'm right. And you need to agree with me. And if you don't, Lord help you write, communicating while writing the emotional freight train typically results in hurt, destruction, misunderstanding, disconnection, right? It is no bueno. And like I said, this is the Flipped lid, right? This the emotional freight train is when our lid has flipped. We've lost all of our skills that exist in the prefrontal cortex, which are like, all of our interpersonal relationship skills. And we're riding along letting our limbic system, take the wheel. And again, the skills of the limbic system are freeze, flight, fight, fine. They're not useful. They're useful if you're being attacked by a bear. Not useful if you're trying to have a conversation with your teenager about a tough subject. And here's the deal. We all ride the EFT we all get on the emotional freight train. It happens. And the goal is not to always stay off. Never flip our lid never lose our shit. The goal is to get on the emotional freight train less often. To get better at feeling it seeing it coming down the tracks towards us. Right. I found myself on the emotional freight train last night, you guys. Good Times good times in the ER verde kitchen last night. Let me tell you, let me tell you, it was really rough. And I haven't really been on the emotional freight train like I was last night in a while. I don't think my family might say otherwise. But last night was especially brutal. So I last week, will be a couple of weeks. Once this podcast came out. I was visiting a good friend from college, shout out to Zara in San Francisco. And she took me to a benefit breakfast for an organization that she does some work for, which was great. And the keynote speaker was Dr. Christine Carter, who is amazing. She wrote a book called The New adolescence and she is someone that I'm really working on trying to get on the pot as a guest I loved everything she had to say couldn't come straight out of the podcast, it was very validating to hear her talk about adolescence. I just appreciated her vibe, I appreciated her message. Everything she was saying was like science and research backed, which is always nice to know that how I'm holding this whole parenting gig is actually backed by science, and research.
Casey O'Roarty 10:29
So she was great. And one of the things we got was when we walked out, we got to take a copy of her book. So I have her book, I'm sitting at our little kitchen knuck, looking at my husband, who's doing the dishes we've just had dinner in is sitting over in the living room within earshot. And I've got this book, and I'm kind of perusing the book and the different sections, and I read some stuff about marijuana out loud, which was, you know, always terrifying. But then I was reading about porn. And how pornography, access to pornography and our kids watching pornography is basically ruining their generations understanding of sex and intimacy. Now, granted, not all kids are watching porn, but it is definitely played a part in how Gen Z and probably millennials to well, all of us how we hold sex, and intimacy and what's normal, what's expected. And you know, I have a daughter and a son, and I'm reading about this, I'm reading sections out loud to my husband. And like I said, Ian was close by but watching the playoffs NBA Playoffs, my husband was in front of me doing the dishes, and I am reading things out loud. And I can feel in my body, the tension building because of what I'm reading. I mean, fuck porn man, like, porn. It's the worst. It's the worst. And it's the way that so many of our kids are being educated around sex, and intimacy. So I'm kind of like freaking out, I can feel my body getting worked up. And I'm fearful for my kids, and the likelihood that they would experience sexual violence or think that sexual violence was normal, because that's what's presented most of the time in porn. And I was starting to get really scared. I was starting to get really panicky. And I was just like, on a rampage, reading this stuff, saying what I think Ian came over and shared some stuff that he thought, which I had no time for shot him right down. My husband is noticing and commenting on my rage. And my anger, which of course, then I'm focused on him and how dare he, and it was an emotional freight train nightmare. Big time, big time. And I totally own it. There was no space for actual useful conversation. And this book actually gave prompts, you know, within the writing for some really good conversations that I could have presented and gotten curious about with my son, versus Oh, my God, this is terrible. None of you know, but to do you think this is normal. It was bad you guys. And this is what happens when we get on the emotional freight train, we not only lose our minds, but we also lose an opportunity to really connect with others, around something that clearly matters to us. healthy sexual intimacy is something that I want for both of my children. I want them to feel good about themselves. I want them to feel good in partnership. I want them to be able to ask for what they want. I want them to ask for consent to give enthusiastic consent when they want to to be able to say no when they want to, you know, I want this for my kids. And then I'm reading about porn and I'm getting so so triggered. There were so many comments made. And I just continued to hold on tighter to the emotional freight train as my husband and my son tried to talk. Get a word in. I just was hanging on tighter there was like I said no room for them. To have an opinion on anything. This was not a conversation about pornography and sexual intimacy. This was me going off from an emotional place. And I'll say a lot of what parents do when they hear how important it is to communicate with their kids is sometimes to rage, right? Or maybe no rage, but a lot of words, right, lecturing. It's a lot of talking out our kids, it's a lot of telling them what to do, telling them how we think they should do it, or telling them what not to do. Lots of talk around how we feel and what we think what we believe. And we fill the space with our words, our values. And, you know, I get it, right, we want them to get it, we want them to understand why things might be bad for them, or how their choices and risk taking could play out. We want them to know the consequences of their choices. Yes. But ultimately, we just want to control the situation and avoid the pain that comes with our kids making mistakes, right? I mean, if we're being honest, wouldn't it be great to know the right thing to say so that they don't ever experiment with drugs, so that they do wait until they're in a really healthy, amazing relationship, preferably, once they get to college to explore sexual intimacy, right? We want these things for them. We want them to do well in school knowing it'll keep all the doors open. Right? We want to be able to save the things that get them to just do it. And our teens learn through their experiences, and thoughtfully connecting their own dots. They learn through our modeling, totally. They learn in relationship, they take in and consider information when they aren't feeling attacked, right? Because when we feel attacked, we're also in the limbic system, we're also losing our prefrontal cortex. So if they're feeling judged, or they feel like they need to get defensive defend themselves, they can't actually consider what it is that we're trying to talk about, or share with them. So it's important that we're in our own headspace of regulated, right, and this is why so much of parenting is actually getting our shit together. Right? I talked about all the time, parenting growth, personal growth on the parenting journey is real. Right? Being able to talk about something like porn, and its influence on sexual violence, without simultaneously sending the message of you and your generation don't know anything and can't possibly form your own opinions on this. So I'm gonna go crazy on you because it totally freaks me out. Because guess what, now I have proven that this conversation is actually too much for me to actually have with my son, and he probably won't want to discuss it further until I can show otherwise. Right? I wanted to have this conversation. I lost control of it. And got on the emotional freight train. And the messages. Wow, mom, there's no room to ask any questions about this? Because mom can't deal she's freaking out. Right? Not the message that I meant to give. Yeah, the emotional freight train gets us all. But what do we do? Now? Let's shift so okay, it exists, right? How do we get off of it? How do we stay off of it? First of all, know your triggers, know, those hot button topics that you're really passionate about. And rather than jumping into a tough conversation about it, plan for it. So I just happened to be sitting at the table perusing this book. I didn't even know that this is where I would land, started reading starting to get worked up. started speaking it out loud. shitshow. Right. Could have started reading it noticed. Whoa, this is heavy. This is something I want to talk about. I'm going to make a plan for talking about it. Right.
Casey O'Roarty 19:56
So knowing our triggers, right, that helps us stay If the emotional freight train, pay attention to your body, our body, which, you know, really, it's our nervous system gives us signals all the time around regulation and dysregulation, tightness, rigidity, heat, increased heart rate, shortness of breath, all of these sensations tell you that you're triggered, and either heading towards are already on the emotional freight train. And for some people, it might be more of a disassociation, a slowing heart rate of feeling of numbness, right. There's different ways that different people respond to emotional triggers. I know for me, it's more of like a heightened like, tense, rigid experience. But that's not everybody's experience, whatever it is for you is something to notice. And if you're like, I don't know what it is for me, then here's your invitation to pay attention. Right? Pay attention to the next time, you're in a conversation, and it might be with your family, or it might not be and you feel freeze, fight flight. Fun, right? And fun is kind of like making friends. You know, I always say if there's an apocalypse, that my biggest skill is make friends with people, you know, or if I was kidnapped, it's like, Well, I gotta use my people skills and make friends with people. And that's fawning. Right? That's kind of like what fawning is. So yeah, noticing your physical sensation, because that's going to start happening, probably, before you do any real damage with your mouth, meaning what you say, Right? Or sometimes you're already in it, but you can recognize Oh, wow, I'm totally in it. And on the emotional freight train, right? So you pay attention. Notice your thoughts? Or your thoughts clear, and precise? Or are they kind of tangled jumbled up? Are you thinking you need to convince the other person of something? What are you thinking about the person you're talking to? Right? Notice that, notice that notice when your thoughts get rigid, your thoughts become either or black, white, good, bad. And there's no in between? That will let you know that you're on the emotional freight train. And the final thing, the most important thing, I think you're paying attention to your triggers, you're noticing your body and your thoughts. But then once you're like, Okay, I'm on the emotional freight train, you have to have a willingness to try something different. So when you're recognizing that you're on the train, be willing to let go, to walk away, to get yourself together, be willing to acknowledge Yes, I feel really strongly about this topic. And my emotional attachment to this topic is getting in the way of an actual, meaningful conversation. Be willing to let go of being right. And to convince everybody that you're right. And instead to take care of yourself, so that you can come back and talk from a curious place where you have room and skills for listening to the other person for listening to understand. Right, this is the work. This is the work, knowing our triggers, being really clear on the topics that are tough, tough, tough, and making a plan rather than jumping in learning to pay attention to our bodies and the signals our bodies give us noticing our thoughts, being reflective on where our thoughts are, and then leaning into a willingness to release to let go to pause. And to take care of yourself. So that you can come back to the conversation in a way that's productive and useful. We are shutting down. I did last night we are shutting down conversation and communication when we take stands for things or for values in a way that doesn't have any space for our teens to get a word in. Right. It doesn't mean you don't stand for things. It doesn't mean you don't have values, but when we're so attached to making sure they get it right. And we are in an emotional space as we try to you know Talk about it, we often aren't leaving any room for our kids to get a word in. And if what we want, as I've said before, if what we want is for them to be critical thinkers, we have to give them space for critical thinking, we have to offer up questions to get their mind moving towards consideration. Right? Like, oh, what do I think about this? How does this play out in my life? Have I formed beliefs about this? Or is that something I'm willing to consider something different, right. And when we get on the emotional freight train, as I did last night, we get to own it and do the cleanup. Right. So this morning, I acknowledged that while the topic of pornography and sexual intimacy was absolutely important to me, I did not handle the conversation Well, last night. And in fact that it wasn't a conversation at all. It was me talking at everyone else. And I also owned that I was treating my son as if he didn't know anything, that he didn't know how to be in relationship with others that he didn't, and couldn't possibly figure out how to be in an intimate relationship with, you know, an intimate partner. I mean, I acknowledged that and he appreciated it, and I feel good about venturing into more conversations in the future. However, I will have to prove that I can handle it, I will have to continue to prove that I can handle it. And in the meantime, we get to take care of ourselves, right, we get to practice the work of noticing our experience as it's happening, and tapping into that willingness to get off the emotional freight train. For me, I get support and got support this morning through listening to a meditation on Insight Timer called our warring self versus our infinite self, by Sarab Londen. I'm gonna put a link to it in the show notes because it is the bomb. It's my favorite, favorite, favorite practice. And it didn't disappoint this morning, it was exactly what I needed to listen to. So yeah, you aren't alone. If you find yourself having a hard time with the difficult topics, and I'm talking about like substance use sex and intimacy, right school college plan, like those places where we're attached, and we come in and we lecture and we get all up in our feelings and borderline Rayji. If you're me, you aren't alone. It's harder. It is hard. So my friend, take care of you. Okay, drink lots of water. Move your body. Find your own stillness, practice through meditation or prayer, yoga. We are all on the path walking beside you. All right. Good luck on staying off of the emotional freight train, getting off the emotional freight train. Don't beat yourself up if you find yourself there. Because it exists. And I'll see you next week. Hope you found some of today's show useful. All the love. Bye
Casey O'Roarty 28:39
Thank you so much for listening in today. Thank you so much to my spreadable partners, Julieta and Alana as well as Danielle and Chris Mann and the team at pod shaper for all the support with getting this show out there and helping it to sound so good. Check out our offers for parents with kids of all ages and sign up for our newsletter to stay better connected at B sprout double.com. Tune back in on Monday for a brand new interview and I will be back solo with you next Thursday. Have a great day.