Difficult Emotions, Part 2


Here’s the 2nd part of our blog post on how to handle challenging emotions during challenging times. We hope it’s helpful to you…

There are 6 steps to mindfully deal with difficult emotions…

Step 1:  Turn toward your emotions with ACCEPTANCE.

First, identify where you sense a tension in your body.  You may feel it as a stomach ache, a tightening of your throat, or the pounding of your heart.  Next, try to name the emotion you are feeling that is connected with this tension.  Don’t push the emotion away.  Stuffing it down will only cause it to bubble up and explode in different ways later.  Listen to your body, and the difficult emotions it is trying to make you aware of.  It is trying to help you wake up to what is going on before a major crisis occurs.

Step 2:  IDENTIFY AND LABEL the emotion.

Try to acknowledge the presence of the emotion, but remain detached from it.  Calmly say to yourself, “This is anger” or “This is anxiety”.  Try to “just be” with that emotion to take the pain out of what you’re feeling.  Stay in the present instead of catapulting yourself into the future or trapping yourself in the past.  There’s no need to blame yourself for choices you made that brought you to this moment.  Just identify the emotion for what it is.

Step 3:  ACCEPT your emotions.

Acknowledge and accept that an emotion is there.  If a friend or loved one was having a hard time, you wouldn’t shame them about it.  You need to show that same kindness to yourself, and say “I did the best I could.”  You are not your anger, fear, grief, or any other difficult emotion you are feeling, and it will not last forever.  Once you accept the emotion and treat yourself with compassion, you should feel some of the tension leave your body as you calm and soothe yourself.

Step 4:  Realize the IMPERMANENCE of your emotions.

Even if the emotion feels overwhelming, remember that it will pass.  Opening yourself up to your emotions allows you permission to work through them, and makes them more fleeting/less permanent.  The reality is that every emotion is impermanent, but that’s easy to forget when you’re in the midst of a crisis.

Step 5:  Inquire and INVESTIGATE.

After you have soothed yourself from the impact of your emotion, take a moment to explore what happened.  Perhaps you had a hard day at work or difficulty dealing with your family.  Maybe you feel unappreciated, lonely, or disconnected.  Investigating the root cause of your difficult emotions will help you gain insight into what you are experiencing.  To begin the investigation, ask yourself these questions:

  • What triggered me?
  • Why do I feel this way?
  • Was this emotion a result of my critical mind, or is it in reaction to something
  • What were your expectations surrounding the situation?
  • What reactions or judgments caused you to become angry or anxious?
  • Is this a pattern that keeps repeating itself?

Step 6:  LET GO of the need to control your emotions.

The key to mindfully dealing with your difficult emotions is to let go of your need to control them.  Step outside yourself, and really listen to what your heart has to say about the situation.

Mindfully dealing with your emotions takes time.  Be patient with yourself as you explore your emotions.  OHI shares many transformative classes and tools with guests to help them manage and process difficult emotions, including:

  • Journaling: Journaling about the reason for your emotions for 15-20 minutes a day, over 4 consecutive days, can help relieve stress and lessen the emotional charge of the incident, making way for serenity and peace.  Multiple studies have shown that the practice has measurable results in providing benefits for the body, too.
  • Emotional Detox: Forgive yourself for the things you cannot change or control, and move on from your past mistakes.  Accept yourself for who you are, and work diligently to grow into the person you want to become.
  • Alpha Practice: Alpha meditation is anything that lets you quiet your mind through contemplation and reflection, and is a valuable tool for defusing tensions.  The Alpha method to enter a meditative state starts by sitting straight with your feet firmly on the floor.  Place your thumb, index finger, and middle finger together, and rest your hands, palms up, on your legs.  Close your eyes, and focus on your breath.  You can repeat a word or phrase that has meaning for you, like “peace” or “love.”  Imagine a relaxing sensation, like a wave of water, start at the crown of your head and gently flow through your entire body, exiting at your feet.  Slowly repeat your phrase, or just count, as you drift into a state of complete relaxation.  At this point of deep receptivity, you can focus on a specific intent — resolving a conflict, emotional investigation, or forgiveness — or simply continue conscious breathing and heightened awareness.  When you have completed your meditation, take a deep breath, and affirm, “Every day in every way I am getting better, healthier, and happier.”  Slowly count from 1-5, becoming more alert with each number.  Take a moment to reflect on insights you may have received in the Alpha state.

In these uncertain times, look to OHI as your safe haven.  As we celebrate 43 years of holistic healing, we can teach you how to process difficult emotions just as we can teach you how to achieve your mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual goals for optimal health.  Stay safe, and be well.  Above all, embrace positivity!

Emotional Detox is just one of the classes you will take during a visit to OHI San Diego or OHI Austin.  We can help you achieve your mental, physical, emotional and spiritual goals for optimal health. For more information, visit our website at www.optimumhealth.org or call us at (800) 588-0809.