“I hate feeling this way”
“I can’t stand this feeling”
“It’s stupid and unacceptable to feel this way”
Do you ever think this way in regards to how you feel? Do you dislike feeling unpleasant emotions? Do you try to avoid unpleasant emotions in any way you can?
It is common for my clients to report disliking unpleasant emotions and to view them as unacceptable. It is common for them try to escape the uncomfortable emotion. However attempting to avoid and escape uncomfortable and unpleasant emotions can create significant distress and lead to a range of problems.
The problem is, we all experience emotions and they are an important part of being a human. Some emotions are pleasant, where as others are uncomfortable and we would prefer if we did not feel that way. We can’t always avoid feeling unpleasant! There is a difference though between disliking unpleasant emotions, but nevertheless accepting that they are part of human experience and riding them out, versus experiencing an unpleasant emotions and perceiving it as unbearable and something to get rid of.
Although it makes sense to avoid any unpleasant emotion or distress, what generally happens though, is the more we fear or struggle with, or attempt to avoid the distress, generally the worst the distress gets. By attempting to avoid the distress, it actually makes it worst.
For my clients who find their emotions distressing, I help them to understand that their feelings can’t hurt them and to see them differently. A skill I teach them is mindfulness. Being mindful can help them to observe their feelings and begin to accept them; to let them be there and ride them out versus pushing them away.
If you find your emotions distressing here a few tips to start being mindful:
– Stop and observe how you feel
– Do not judge how you feel as ‘good’ or ‘bad’
– Label what you are feeling as just a feeling (“It’s just my anxiety again”)
– Imagine your emotion to be like a wave that will pass
– Engage in mindfulness meditation. Start with a mindfulness of breath recording then try recordings on being mindful of thoughts and emotions
Michelle Dean (M Clin Psych, BA (Hons – First Class), brings her genuine care and compassion for people, along with her keen insight and analytical abilities to her work.
Through her various roles, she has developed a deep understanding of how these difficulties develop and impact on people in different life stages. Michelle has been able to assist her clients in developing skills to manage their anxiety and depression, along with enabling them to develop a healthy sense of self and greater self confidence. Michelle is a high calibre and compassionate professional and she is wonderful at being able to see the complexities of a clinical presentation and bring her therapeutic work down to a manageable and structured approach.