How to Avoid Letting Difficult Feelings Rule your Life.

People tend to make happen what they fear

Why? What we fear is the experience of difficult feelings. In an attempt to avoid the uncomfortable sensations of difficult feelings we inadvertently behave in ways that create them.

Scenario: Mary adored her father. When she was 12 her father left her mother.  Although he told Mary that he loved her, he did not make time for her in his life anymore. She felt abandoned.  She also saw her mother struggle trying to make a new life for herself while taking care of Mary and her brother.

When Mary was in her early 20’s she met and fell in love with a great guy she met at the gym where she worked out.  They became a couple.  Mary wanted to be with him all the time.  At first he felt deeply loved by her attachment to him.  But after awhile he started to feel trapped and smothered.  He started to complain about her constant need to be with him or know where he was and who he was with.  He began to find reasons to be away from her.  She felt panic and fear that he would abandon her. The more he pulled away the more Mary tried to hang on to him.  Ultimately, he abandoned her.  The pain of abandonment was extremely hard for her. She unknowingly created that very feelings she was trying to avoid.

What we really fear is the experience of abandonment, embarrassment, failure, rejection, being left out, grief, loss, and vulnerability.  The sensations of panic, jealousy, feeling exposed, powerlessness, disappointment, hopeless and many more.  Fear, too, is a feeling that is difficult.  Often what happens is people fear fear itself. Then what people do, or don’t do, is determined by whether or not they think they can avoid difficult feelings.  The feelings come to rule their life.

But the truth is, the way to get rid of difficult feelings is to do the opposite – feel them, stay with them and breathe through them.  This way the brain can process the feelings and transform them into different better feelings – healthy feelings.

It is important to pick the right time and place to do this.  It takes time to do this as the part of the brain that emotion is in, works more slowly than the part of the brain that reasons and analyzes.  Often it is wise to wait until you can find the appropriate time and place to feel your difficult feelings.  Once you do, then take the time you need to access and express the difficult feelings to the depth.  Feelings come in waves. Breathe through the feelings as they rise and subside. The feelings will shift and change in a positive way. It may take a few times of doing this to completely process the difficult emotion.  But then it will be gone.  You will no longer need to fear this emotion.  You will no longer need to manage it. You will seldom think about it. This means you are free to live your life the way you want.

Rather than avoiding your feelings, breathe through them,

Dr. Bea

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