Embracing Difficult Emotions

Imagine a child who is angry or upset. If they feel ignored, they shout or cry louder as a way of asking for help, because they want to be heard and comforted. It is horrible to feel this way, because our body has many unpleasant sensations in it when we are experiencing strong emotions. What they want is a hug so they feel less alone, for someone to calmly look them in the eyes and listen deeply whilst they try to explain what is wrong, and then to be comforted and helped to feel better (which may not mean getting what they want!)

As adults we are the same, so it is crucial to listen to ourselves kindly when we experience difficult emotions, to acknowledge how hard life is in that moment, and release the tensions in our face and body as best we can. Just like a child we might find it difficult to express ourselves or even see clearly why we feel that way. By taking time to calm ourselves using peaceful, mindful walking and breathing, we can then listen deeply to what is really going on for us. This gives us valuable insights as to why we feel that way, so that we can take appropriate action to help ourselves.

That action may be asking for support from others. We may realise that we are being unreasonable in our expectations and we need to let go of a belief that things should be different. It may be that our thoughts are constantly criticising us and we need to practice being our own best friend. There are many possibilities. The first step is to just embrace our emotions instead of ignoring or pushing them away – just like a child, it is often surprising how quickly our difficult feelings can settle if we turn towards them with kindness and compassion in our eyes.

This article first appeared in the Post Newspapers Group of Community Newspapers in June 2023

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