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Dealing with Difficult Emotions

Trisha Erpelding, Director of Education & Advocacy

September 23rd, 2019

Mindful Mondays

Dealing with Difficult Emotions

6 steps to mindfully deal with difficult emotions

Welcome to Mindful Monday!

For many of us, it can be hard to find time to fit mindfulness practice into our day. Add in the difficult emotions and experiences that life gives us, and it can seem downright impossible to practice staying in the present moment. Who wants to stop and be present with tough emotions? Why would we want to face the feelings that we try so hard not to think about when life hands us a painful moment?

Spiritual leader and teacher Thich Nhat Hanh writes, "most people are afraid of suffering. But suffering is a kind of mud to help the lotus flower of happiness grow. There can be no lotus flower without the mud."

It turns out, as difficult as it may be, facing these emotions may be one of the best things we can do during difficult times. When pain is present, we can turn toward those feelings and acknowledge what is there, rather than spending our time running away from it and distracting ourselves with something else - and as many of us know, trying not think about something seems to only help us to think about it more. To help with this, the folks at the Gottman Institute have developed an infographic highlighting six steps of being mindful with difficult emotions.

Be present with what you are feeling, perhaps even telling yourself, "this is a moment of suffering" and paying attention to where your body is holding those feelings. There is a lot of power in labeling the way we feel, how we feel it, and why we feel it. There is also power in letting go of the need to control our emotions- it is okay to feel whatever we may be feeling in this moment and remember that this suffering may lend itself to a place where happiness can grow.

(If, at any time, it feels too difficult to acknowledge these emotions, remember that it is always okay to return to your breath, get into your body by taking a gentle walk, or even take a break. Self-compassion during suffering is key.)

Be you. Be well. Be mindful.

For a short self-compassion break to help you through a difficult time, please click here.

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