Melissa called to complain about her job, which required a great deal of time and mental effort. She was too stressed by work to interact with her children at home, too stressed to be kind to her husband, too stressed for anything but her job, and the creation of more stress. And the stress was causing her increasing health problems.
She did not require the high income from her job. She could have survived on far less, but as much as she complained about her job, she enjoyed the drama, the power, the income, and the excuses that her career provided for neglecting her family responsibilities.
I talked to her about all of this, and she told me that everything was fine at home. I responded that I had talked to her husband, who mentioned their frequent arguments and his plans to move out, taking their two young children with him. Unaccountably, she responded that at least the kids were “doing okay.”
Oh no, the kids were not “doing okay.” Children are highly sensitive to criticism, stress, and contention. A recent study demonstrated that one-year-old children immediately stopped playing immediately after two adult strangers in the same room communicated with each other—not the child—with only slight negativity.
When we’re in pain—fear and stress, for example—we radiate our feelings like a microwave without a door or high-tension power lines. I have seen situations where children seem to sense pain through brick walls. And as adults, our sensitivity might be even greater, because we already have a lifetime of wounds, which make us all the more sensitive.
We must become increasingly aware of how we radiate our feelings out in all directions. The solution is not suppression of these feelings, but actually addressing them and eliminating them with unconditional love.