Learn to Embrace Difficult Emotions

Updated: Mar 9



Why do some people seem to deal with negative feelings better than others? The reason is the attitude they have toward them.


These people possess the ability to accept negative emotions as a natural part of life and acknowledge their presence, but don't let them define or drive their lives. They found the healthiest way to deal with emotions, and even if it's not always an easy task, they manage to overcome their obstacles with a positive mindset,


For many others, facing uncomfortable emotions is not so simple. People who are not comfortable with their emotional world tend to avoid or suppress challenging feelings. However, emotions rule people's thoughts, perceptions and behaviour; ignoring them leads only to physical and mental stress. Fortunately, positively exploring emotions is something that can be learned.


"The only difference between a good day and a bad day is your attitude."

Dennis S. Brow


Why do some people feel more challenged than others by negative emotions?


The answer lies most of the times in one or more of the following factors:

  • Exploring emotions is not considered critical.

  • Tendency to ignore the feeling rather than exploring it.

  • Feeling guilt around negative emotions.

  • Inability to cope with unwelcomed emotions.

  • Identify themselves with the feeling.

  • Individual personality traits.

  • Life experiences.

Challenging emotions, like any other emotion, are a natural component of life. Learning how to deal with them more positively is vital for your physical and mental health.

Several self-help tools can help you when struggling with uncomfortable feelings such as anger, remorse, guilt, resentment, fear, pain, and others. Self-care advise, help-lines, self-help books, mindfulness, self-compassion can all aid toward healing. However, it is essential to remember that changing life-long learned habits requires time, patience and commitment.


When you struggle in the attempt to reach your goal, remind yourself that your feelings didn't appear suddenly, and they have been neglected for quite some time. Therefore, even if you are now committed to improve the situation, they won't magically disappear. You have to allow yourself the time you need to heal. If the task is still too hard to accomplish on your own, don't be afraid to ask a therapist for support.

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy shows a fascinating approach to deal with unwelcome emotions.


The principles of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy are:


  • Acceptance: the choice to accept what makes you struggle as part of life, whether it be a thought or a feeling. While this stage is not the aim of the therapy, acceptance facilitates a positive outcome.

  • Cognitive Defusion: to better understand how cognitive defusion works, hold both your hand very close in front of your face. If you open your eyes, almost all you can see are your hands. If you distance your hands 15 cm from each other, you still see your hands, but you can also see everything surrounding you. Now think of your hands as the problem you are experiencing. If you move your problem on the side, it will be still there but not blinding or blocking you from everything else.

  • Being Present: be aware of what is happening around you. Notice things, emotions, people, and all you usually miss or give just for granted and try to look at them from different perspectives. Observe yourself in this exploration, notice your inner response.

  • Self as Context: you are not your thoughts; you are just having these thoughts. You are not the images that go through our heads. You are not your emotions; you are simply experiencing them.

  • Values: defining your values may not be the easiest task; it will take some self-exploration abilities, but they are vital to carry out all of the above points. What is important to you? Define your values and commit to them.

  • Committed Action, this is the most challenging point. Now that your values have been defined, the aim is living accordingly to them. Which outcome are you expecting from this journey? Positive changes won't happen without setting the intention to commit to your values. Be flexible when it comes to adapt to future changes; show kindness and patient with yourself. Your committed action will help you reach your goal.


"I have learned that as long as I hold fast to my beliefs and values, and

follow my own moral compass, then the only expectations I need to live up to are my own."

Michelle Obama



Explore the links attached to this blog to broaden your understanding of ACT and self-care.

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