How to deal with painful emotions

How to deal with painful emotions

This morning as I lay on the bathroom floor crippled with pain, I struggled against it as I always do for at least half an hour. And then, with eyebrows crumpled into resistance, a small lightbulb appeared in my mind with a ding, and I remembered what I remember every month after suffering for far too many minutes.

What you resist persists.

I kicked myself non literally and redirected my attention away from my shouty mind where there was all sorts of chaos and exclamations of No NO NoOOO, take it away, why is this always so horrible….


Instead I directed my attention inward into the source of pain, damn uterus, and put my full focus on the sensations I could feel there. It wasn’t fun, but it was a lot easier than trying to run away or hide from the sensations that were there.

There’s no running away from your pain or emotions! We all know this, yet we all try like buggery to hide Click To Tweet

Once I realised this and stopped hiding,

I observed the sensations and allowed them to be there. As usual, it made the process so much easier.

To my surprise I found my mind writing out a blog post in my head in the midst of my pain, so I decided to write it down, and here we are.

The thing that I’ve come to learn with mindfulness is that the more your resist physical pain and painful emotions, the more they hound you.

You’d think that if you try and distract yourself from your pain or emotions, it would be more effective. But instead, ignoring, resisting, shutting down your emotions just stores the problem up for another day, and there’s only so much storage available when your body isn’t made by Ikea.

Shoving your painful emotions away is akin to picking up all the crap off your bedroom floor and ramming it in various cupboards around the house.

It makes you feel better at the time,

sort of, but eventually there’s going to be more stuff to clean up, and you’re going to run out of crammy cupboard space, and at some point it’s all going to come bursting out when you least expect it, and then there will be a whole lot more mess to handle than what you started with.

It sounds esoteric, but it’s really quite simple.

Become self aware enough to observe and process your emotions and physical pain as it comes up in the moment, or keep shoving it down and diagonally and all over the place, and you’ll find that it becomes harder and harder to contain.

To process an emotion or a physical pain you simply need to allow it to be there as a physiological response in your body. Observe the sensation. Don’t analyse and commentate it with your mind, when you notice your mind doing that, just redirect your attention into the sensation 100%.

You can’t focus on both things at once.

Surprisingly, focussing on the sensation is a lot less unpleasant than focusing on how much you want it to go away.

Before long, all sensations and emotions pass.

Even physical pain.

If you can be the observing witness behind the chaos, you’ll feel calm beneath it all, and the storm will leave you unscathed.

Want to learn how? It’s less complicated than my tired brain is making it sound. I’ll teach you.

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Gidday, I'm Andrea

I'm a mindfulness advisor and former cynical pessimist.

I used to be an awkward, pessimistic, mediocrely happy overachiever.

Life looked good on the outside, but on the inside things were average.

I was indecisive, I didn't know what to do with my life, I self-sabotaged the hell out of my relationships.

I had a feeling I was going to keep f-ing things up for myself unless something radical changed.

The life handbrake-turn that followed over the next few years came as the result of learning what I now teach in Bloody Good Life 101. Just practical, relatable techniques without any rainbow and butterfly jibber jabber.