Managing Difficult Emotions
Wed 22 March 2017
Through our mindfulness practice we learn to open up to what is being presented moment by moment and this includes our emotions. Mindfulness is not about feeling happy all the time. It is about tuning in to how we feel moment to moment with openness, curiosity and acceptance.
If we spend our time denying, ignoring, avoiding and fighting against our difficult feelings or emotions we are creating resistance. This resistance is blocking us from moving on. You may have heard the phrase “WHAT WE RESIST PERSISTS!”
We often resist painful feelings and emotions because perhaps we feel they would be too difficult to endure. Or we are so caught up in the mind and our thoughts about the challenge, that we do not see things clearly for what they are. We think we will crumble, our worlds will fall apart if we allow ourselves to truly feel. We think that we aren’t strong enough to face difficult emotions. I always like to remember a phrase from one of my teachers in these situations: “FEELING IS HEALING”. When we allow our feelings, when we welcome them and accept them fully – without wanting to push them away or for them to be different – that is the first step of transformation. Remember feelings do not last forever. “This too shall pass”.
I will share a personal example. When I first moved in with my boyfriend we did not have enough space for all my kitchen things and very soon after I moved in, one morning, he got very cross about the mess and this upset me. Rather than get involved in an argument about it I quietly went to the toilet and sat on the loo. I took a breath and I allowed the emotion I was feeling to come up. In a way I relished giving myself the space to feel this, as part of my mindfulness practise. Instead of allowing thoughts and ego to make the situation worse, I just allowed my upset and sadness to come out. I watched it. And I started to cry. As I cried, I watched. Then I said some soothing words to myself with my hand on my heart. All of a sudden I felt much better, the tears stopped. Really a sense of letting go. When I came out of the toilet my boyfriend was there to give me a hug and apologise and I had no bad feeling towards him at all.
I invite you to start to notice and allow your emotions. When you are dealing with difficult feelings, choose a safe place and time to allow them and remember to be very kind and gentle with yourself. But also don’t overwhelm yourself. You can also close and turn away from difficult emotions at any time. Remember, sometimes it is an act of self-compassion to recognise when you are becoming overwhelmed with emotion. In those circumstances, treat yourself to a nice hot bubble bath, a walk in the woods or a hot chocolate and watch a funny movie or read your favourite book!
You might like to try this guided meditation called Soften, Sooth, Allow, which helps create space for difficult emotions.