Dealing with Difficult Feelings
Between work, family, running errands, taking care of your kids, paying your bills, and just getting through your daily life, it can feel overwhelming and like you just do not have time for anything else.
Dealing with difficult emotions, like loneliness, sadness, or anger, takes time, so we often choose not to deal with them rather than confront and process how we feel. But, because these emotions are often the most profound sources of stress in our lives, learning to deal with them effectively can make the rest of those things easier, not harder.
Learning to deal with difficult emotions starts by practicing mindfulness, which teaches you how to calm your reaction to emotions and soothe complicated feelings. Once you are in a state of mindfulness, it becomes easier to reflect upon and thoughtfully process your feelings rather than just reacting without thought.
The Steps for Dealing with Difficult Emotions
Start by accepting that you need to feel this emotion. Pay attention to how it makes you feel physically and what part of your body responds to it. What muscles tighten, what symptoms do you feel when you think about it? Do not ignore these signs.
Pay attention to them, because if you try to push them aside, they will find a way to make themselves known later. Paying attention to them is the first step and often the hardest for anyone who struggles to acknowledge hard feelings.
Next, be sure you accurately identify what you are feeling. Be as precise as possible and focus on the fact that this just an emotion. It is not WHO you are; it is HOW you are feeling. Naming your feelings first takes some of the power away from them and allows you to process them more fully. When you admit that you are feeling anxiety about a situation, it keeps you in the present and does not allow you to focus on the unknown future, which you can’t control.
Learning to deal with difficult emotions means that you must accept that you are feeling this way. Denying that you are sad or angry does not help you to feel less depressed or angry. Instead, it can make you feel even more of these difficult emotions.
When you accept that you are feeling a particular emotion, you can decide to be compassionate and understanding toward yourself, in the same way you would toward others who are struggling with similar feelings. You can’t stop the feelings, but you can accept that this is what you need to feel right now, so what is the best way to move forward.
When you open yourself up to experience the emotions that you have been trying to ignore, you will soon see that they occupy a space in your mind for just a short time, and then you are able to focus on other things in your life.
When you allow yourself to experience the hard emotions, you have a greater awareness of how emotions can affect and their lack of power over you when you determine that you are in control.
When you learn to deal with and embrace your emotions, you quickly realize that they do not last. They come and go, and they may sometimes stay a little longer than you would like, but they will disappear. Having patience, paying attention, and being mindful of your emotions will help you get through the process with less pain and difficulty and allow you so soon move on to other things in your life.
When you let go of the need to control all of your emotions and learn to deal with painful feelings, you become open to what happens in your life, what will unfold in the future, and how these feelings can inform your present. It provides you with greater insight into your happiness and satisfaction, as well.