I believe that one of the best ways to change your feelings is to first accept them. It is a true gift to be able to accept this dichotomy. It takes a lot of hard work, focus and non-judgmental thinking practice to really accept my negative feelings. Fear, Rage and Sadness can be overwhelming and seem impossible to accept but this is the beginning of wisdom over your feelings. So, how do I do this? I hate this rage! The anxiety is debilitating! The sadness envelopes me and drowns me! There is no way out of this! I have felt this way before and it’s never going to go away! Without mentioning all the cognitive distortions in these statements, I have to tell you that they can go away! Probably not forever; maybe for only a moment; but, they can go away. Feelings, after all, are changing all the time. They come and go, just like the clouds on a sunny day or the waves as they ebb and flow. The reality is that feelings are with you for a reason; there is nothing wrong with having feelings; and feelings return and fade just like the sun and the moon. They are there all the time, we just don’t always see them. When I experience negative feelings that become overwhelming, I find it’s best to take a step out of them. Out of myself. I really try and imagine watching myself having those feelings just like I might watch a movie on a screen! I stand back and breathe. I try not to become enveloped by my emotions; I just watch–non-judgmentally.
To be non-judgmental, I can’t put any value on what I am experiencing. I can’t label it good or bad. It just is! Feelings just are! I have to practice and re-practice this mindful experience without calling myself names or telling myself I am stupid or a failure. I just watch as they play themselves out in front of me, as they perform their little dance, just watch and breathe. One nice thing about our breath, is that it is with us all the time; it is not a card that we have to look for. It is just there, always! At this point, and quite honestly, it doesn’t always work quickly–nonjudgmental–I am becoming present with my feelings. I am sitting with them, experiencing them and allowing them into my life and you know what? These feelings are okay!
For more information on how to accept your feelings, you can visit the CCI site that is pinned to the bottom of my logo. When you click on that, you can scroll down to “Tolerating Distress”. Here you will find a workbook on “Facing Your Feelings”. You might find some of the information repetitive, but I found doing the exercises and writing out a “script” for Mindfulness Distress was extremely helpful in understanding how to “sit” with your feelings.