The truth is no one likes pain. So, why would you want to stay open to feelings that are painful, uncomfortable, or uneasy?
Well, if you tend to have negative or difficult emotions, the truth is, those emotions are not going to go away if you ignore them. It’s common to think that if you just avoid or turn away from uncomfortable feelings they will eventually disappear. And that’s not true.
In fact, they may only get worse.
You might have heard the saying that goes, “What you resists, persists.”
It’s by learning to allow your feelings to come and go that makes it easier to manage them each time. If you continue to push away anger, you’re likely to become more angry. If you push away feelings of shame, you’re likely to feel more shameful. However, if you can find the courage to face them and develop the ability to accept what you’re feeling, then you slowly develop the knowledge that you’re bigger than your feelings. You slowly realize that you have the power to let those feelings come and go without them disrupting your life, like they used to.
You might be asking, “But how can you learn to be more accepting of emotions? Especially, if you’ve always pushed them away?” Well, the best way to become more accepting of your internal experience (whether it’s feelings, moods, images, or thoughts) is to practice mindfulness. This is a practice of being aware of your internal and external environment while holding a nonjudgmental stance. For instance, you might be in a room with other recovering addicts while being mindful. You notice someone walk into the room wearing an odd looking dress. You might notice, as a result, that you’re having a reaction to it. Perhaps inside you’re being critical, judgmental, or unkind. And instead of believing in the criticism you take note of the fact that you’re being critical. Mindfulness helps create the ability to put distance between what’s going on in your mind and who you are. With this kind of inner space, insights can arise. Perhaps in this case, after being mindful you remember that you once wore a similar dress and your mother was highly critical of you and you were hurt by it.
Mindfulness allows you to develop the skill of being an observer.
Over time, you can recognize any unhealthy thinking and emotional patterns. Also, this practice of being consciously aware of what is happening both inwardly and outwardly can facilitate the ability to accept yourself and your feelings with greater ease. As you can imagine, as you learn to be an observer versus being critical or judgmental, you also develop the ability to observe those uncomfortable feelings you’re having versus being overwhelmed by them. They can come into your experience without bringing you down, making you feel anxious, or triggering anger. With mindfulness, you can accept your feelings, and in turn, grow your ability to accept yourself.
Staying open to what you’re experiencing without resistance can actually bring great benefits. Often, it’s a person’s struggle and resistance to the circumstances in life that cause stress, anxiety, fear, and other uncomfortable emotions. But it’s your willingness to feel what you’re experiencing that creates a sense of ease and well being.
Vantage Point Recovery is a lifestyle management and recovery center in Thousand Oaks. We provide mental health treatment, addiction treatment, and therapy. Connect with us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, or visit our blog for mental health helpful tips.
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