Letting Go of Painful Emotions

Learning to let go can be difficult, often people develop an attitude of clinging to feelings, obsessing about the how and why of emotional experience.  It sounds counterintuitive but the act of accepting emotion that we are resisting will sometimes lessen their painful impact.

Follow these steps to work on your ability to let go of negative emotions:

  1. Observe your emotion. Acknowledge that it exists, stand back from it, and get yourself unstuck from it;
  2. Try to experience your emotion as a wave, coming and going. You may find it helpful to concentrate on some part of the emotion, like how your body is feeling or some image about it.
  3. Recognize that you are not your emotion. Your emotion is part of you, but it is not all of you. You are more than your emotion;
  4. Do not necessarily act on the emotion; having the emotion does not mean that you have to act. You may just need to sit with the emotion. Often, acting can intensify and prolong the emotion;
  5. Practice LOVING your emotions. This can be a difficult concept. Why would we want to love painful emotions?

We can learn to love our emotions just the way we can learn to love (accept) anything else about ourselves or our experience that we cannot change.

Remember that acceptance (love) and approval are two different things. You don’t have to like your freckles, but they are there and you can’t change that, so if you just accept or love them, you will feel a lot better than if you keep fighting the idea that they are there (Dietz, 2012).

Practicing metta/loving kindness meditation can be a great way to work out your ability to access loving kindness for self.

Categories: DBTdistresstolerance