If you’re like me, and many of my clients, you may be experiencing a lot of intense emotions right now. The eclipse, the political climate, the end of summer and transition to Fall, all may be contributing to the increasing emotional intensity.

What do you do with feelings that you just want to GO AWAY?

When I’m angry, stressed or sad, I usually just want the negative feeling to go away as quickly as possible so I can get back to feeling good.

Maybe you do the same? Something happens and you say or do something that you’re unhappy about. After replaying a situation in your head 14 times, you’re exhausted from thinking about it and feeling bad, so you try to push it down, ignore it, or distract yourself so that you don’t have to actually feel the unpleasant emotion anymore.  

Unfortunately, these favorite methods of escaping bad feelings may work (to some degree) in the short run, but they ultimately don’t grant you real resolution or freedom from the feelings.

What would happen if you could just sit and let yourself really feel what you’re feeling?

The truth is that going into these feelings is the only way through them and out of them. Actually experiencing and being with your feelings in the present moment is a more effective way to feel good in the long run.

If you stuff your feelings or avoid them, they come out anyways as uncontrolled outbursts when you least want them to, surprising both you and the unwitting recipient. It’s like a pot that’s had the top on too tight, finally blowing its lid. Your point may be lost in the chaos, leaving you feeling unheard and worse.

That’s not what you want, right?

What ultimately leads to more freedom and genuine self expression is allowing yourself to experience the emotion, so that it can pass through you, and loosen its grip. Then, from a place of calm self-compassion you can respond in a healthy way.

Here’s a simple practice* to try the next time you are feeling angry, annoyed, sad, embarrassed, or any other generally unpleasant emotion. At work or at home, this method will help you safely go into the feeling, which will allow your own self compassion to rise gently within you. And slowly but surely, it will release you from the suffering, or at least gradually diminish the intensity.

Self-Compassion Mantra

First, recognize the emotion you’re feeling. It takes a moment of mindfulness and self-awareness to be able to recognize the emotion in the first place. Put your hand on your heart, and name the emotion.

“This is a moment of suffering, I’m feeling really anxious right now.” (Fill in the blank with your difficult emotion.)

Then allow that feeling to be present. Just sit with it and notice what it feels like. Get curious. What sensations are present in your body? Where do you feel them?

Next, connect with the universal nature of this very human feeling. Take a moment and imagine the thousands, millions of people who are feeling the same thing you are, right now.

Say: “EVERYONE feels this way sometimes.” Or, “It’s normal to feel like this. I’m not alone. Suffering is a part of life.” Allow yourself to feel connected to your own humanity and others feeling like you are now.

To close out this practice, bring loving kindness to your heart. Usually it’s easier to imagine what would you say to a child, or a dear friend experiencing this suffering. How would you comfort them? Then, turn those same loving words inwards to your own heart.

“May I be kind to myself, may I give myself the compassion I need.”

Cross your arms across your chest, and give yourself a little hug. Do it, for real! It releases oxytocin, the feel good hormone, just like a hug from a dear friend would. Ask your own tender heart what would feel nurturing in that moment, and give yourself that kindness.

Repeat

Depending on how intense is the negative emotion,  I may need to run through this series more than once to get the feeling to loosen its hold on me. But it does work, every time. Going towards the suffering with a kind heart allows you access your own deep well of self compassion that’s always there for you.

If you feel like you need guidance to learn to be able to use this practice in your own life, feel free to reach out. I’d be happy to help.

*This Self-Compassion Mantra combines methods from two of my favorite self-compassion and mindfulness teachers, Tara Brach, and Kristin Neff.

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