Unpleasant and Uncomfortable Feelings

One of the things noted to be a major issue for our well-being is emotional avoidance.

It may seem to make sense to avoid things that are uncomfortable or unpleasant. And when it comes to feelings many of us have heard messages growing up that sounded a little like “stop crying” or “you’ve got nothing to worry about”. These messages only serve to encourage the avoidance. And most of us are aware of the momentary relief we can experience that avoidance can provide. For example – you know what feels uncomfortable – public speaking, and if I don’t speak instant reduction in those uncomfortable feelings!

Long term, however, this can lead to magnifying the problem – the uncomfortable, scary stuff seems bigger and therefore should be further avoided – and we diminish our belief in our ability to manage that which is uncomfortable. And important to note is the

feelings don’t go away – you can’t run far enough, drink or get high enough, push them down far enough, pretend or shop enough to escape them. They will just be there on the other side of all of this and you may end up with addiction or debt to deal with as well!

So, what if I told you there was a reasonably simple solution to this. Please note I said simple not easy. According to Joan Rosenberg there are three steps or parts to this.

1. – 8 unpleasant feelings
2. – 90 seconds

3. – One choice

The 8 unpleasant feelings are:


Experiencing these emotions can feel scary, we can assume that they are too intense or that we might lose control or that they will continue to increase. Firstly, the good news is that we don’t experience them all at once! Neuroscience tells us that our emotions are first felt in our body as a sensation that is the result of biochemicals that are released. It is, in fact, this that we what to

distract from.

Now we come to the 90 seconds – this is the length of time we experience the biochemical sensation for. About 60 to 90 seconds!

Feelings are temporary! These sensations come like a wave, having a peak and then subside. So we can ride this wave! You could picture this like when you walk along the shore of the beach and a wave comes up the shore and can linger, or hang, and then subside.They always subside!

The choice is to stay present – fully present!In touch with the moment. Moment by moment. Practicing awareness not avoidance!
This can take practice, and it is in the moment by moment decisions that we become more capable.
  • Stay present
  • Surf the wave
  • Let them subside
  • You will feel centred and capable

Insights will follow and with practice you can unhook for old stories and follow the path back to being more fully you!

Written by: 
Cheryl Gale,
Proactive Health & Movement
Anxiety, Depression
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