January 25, 2023

21 Ways to Sit With Uncomfortable Thoughts & Emotions.


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We all feel uncomfortable emotions sometimes.

We may not like when it happens, but it happens.

I think most of us would admit that we want to be happy and that we’d prefer to always feel happy. But life is filled with a range of experiences and emotions and we’re going to feel all sorts of different things.

Uncomfortable emotions are never going to feel comfortable; they’ll always feel uncomfortable, at least in some way. But they’re not meant to feel comfortable. We’re meant to experience them and learn from them.

I was so heartened, so moved, when I saw the responses to a question I asked on one of our social media pages last week. So many people responded about what they do to sit with, move with, be with uncomfortable emotions.

I was touched because I still feel like too many people (and too much of society) try to avoid them at all costs, will do anything to distract themselves from feeling them. But unless we feel them, we can’t learn from them. Also, it’s totally natural to feel them!

Last week, I asked this question on one of our social media pages:

“What are some tips for sitting with uncomfortable thoughts and emotions?”

Here are 21 ways to sit with uncomfortable thoughts and emotions, from Elephant readers:

1. “I breathe, do energy work and find a mantra of sorts. I wait until the emotion is not so overwhelming to look at what ever is disturbing my peace. It takes time and focus but better than letting my mind weave messy sticky webs.” ~ Charlene

2. “Meditate every day for a few minutes, asana, read yoga philosophy, fast.” ~ Brooke

3. “1). I pray for strength and I forgive myself for allowing whatever I allowed to invade my personal life.
2). I start a journal of all that’s overwhelming me.
3). I start activities: bowling, walking, biking, yardwork, beach, gym ect…
4). Surround myself with positive people
5). Stay off of social media outlets
6). Eat a balanced healthy meal daily
7). Make your bed everyday. Declutter: clean your house and open the curtains let in the sunlight.
8). Dress up don’t waddle around looking pitiful
9). Leave negative people alone especially the ones that always say ‘I told you so’” ~ Rodney

4. “1. Realize that it’s a fact that we feel, but all feelings aren’t facts. 2. Don’t allow them to inspire unhealthy behaviors. 3. Understand that they pass. 4. Feel them, deal with them and HEAL from them.” ~ Lisa

5. “You need to sit with them and acknowledge them. Once this is done you can release them. Breathwork, meditation and mindfulness work well. Ignoring them by using distraction is not helpful – it’s your body that then suffers” ~ Fiona

6. “The sense of yourself who is having a hard time sitting with thoughts and feelings is itself also a thought and a feeling.. The actual awake awareness noticing that isn’t finding it difficult at all. So sitting with difficult thoughts and feelings is already perfectly accomplished and once the sense of ‘me’ that is having a hard time is also recognized it becomes obvious that is the case.” ~ Brian

7. “I find brain dumping helps, so putting pen to paper and feel it all out that way. After writing it all out you can even do a ho’oponopono ceremony by burning the pages and saying the I’m sorry, please forgive me, thank you, I love you. Feel and release the emotions with love and grace.” ~ Roni

8. “I consider the thoughts and whether a series of thoughts led to them or whether they’re intrusive. If I’m in a place to mentally sort through the thoughts and determine what caused them, I do and then I try to resolve the underlying issue in my subconscious mind. That can look like a lot of things from keeping my hands busy gardening while my mind wanders or just walking barefoot in nature.

If I DON’T have the space to deal with it. I write the issue down and put it in my ‘later’ box. I do this mentally as well. My later box is a coffin. The issue is laid to rest until I’m ready to deal with it.” ~ Mary

9. “Inhale gently through the nose, exhale softly through the mouth. Sit up a little taller. Relax the shoulders. Relax the face. Smile slightly. Gently shake the spine. Simply observe what happens next and avoid labeling it. Go on the ride of the sensations as they are. Don’t fight. Don’t try to fix anything. Just slip into the witness space and watch everything naturally change.” ~ Benjamin

10. “Sit with them. Feel them in the body – acknowledge that they’re present. Be curious, while also having self compassion.” ~ Kira

11. “Talk to your dog. He won’t tell anybody anything, he won’t judge you, he’ll keep all your secrets, he’ll be there for you emotionally. Sometimes you just need to say things out loud and get them out of your body.” ~ Nosaj

12. “Write about it. Talk to a friend. Go for a walk. Paint a picture. Find something to be grateful for. Listen to music. Play with an animal.” ~ Jordan

12. “You can be sad but don’t stay sad! That phrase has stuck with me. Feel what you are feeling in the moment. Take deep breaths. And think of what you are grateful for…start small…it helps change your mindset gradually.” ~ Sonia

13. “I went for a short hike, cried and laid on the ground as I held the roots and branches around me just to feel grounded. I let the water fall on me and stretched my shoulders enought to let me breath and cry it out. I got in my car wet, and sweaty, but my chest and shoulders felt lighter. I’m glad I was the only person facing the waterfall.” ~ Ana

14. “I actually think you have to roll in it until you understand and feel it’s lesson. Life is heavy, and quick solutions aren’t usually effective with deep, uncomfortable stuff. You have to sit in your pain and acknowledge what hurts and why to understand it, and once you understand it in full, you can begin to heal. Understanding means accepting it as it is, yourself and your own mistakes included. Forgive yourself for what you didn’t understand. When you have a handle on this, you can begin to get a handle on that. You have to know it to heal it. You must be honest with yourself ESPECIALLY about yourself then release what isn’t good for your soul. Self love will set you free. Know this” ~ Shannon

15. “Breath through them. Don’t push them away. Love, accept and understand the parts of yourself that carried these thought patterns as a form of protection. We aren’t bad or weak for having uncomfortable thoughts. Awareness and sitting with them allow us to release them.” ~ Emilie

16. “Move a muscle. Nature. Get grounded.” ~ Nicholas

17. “Feel the emotions because you aren’t processing them if you push them down. If the emotions are strong or violent separate yourself from people and beat the heck out of a pillow, your mattress or some other object that won’t injure you. Scream and yell into that pillow. Get it all out then comfort your inner child that is fighting to be heard. I find that most of my big emotions are very old feelings that were never expressed. Once you feel spent Breathe and remind yourself that you deserve to let these emotions out. The people around you don’t deserve this intensity of emotion and by letting it out alone you may be better equipped to communicate calmly.” ~ Joanne

18. “Do some writing. Turn it into a poem or short story. Or just journal it. Sometimes the pen and paper are better listeners than any human could ever be” ~ Xavier

19. “Don’t deny what you’re feeling. Face into it. Ask yourself, “What is this experience trying to teach me?” and act accordingly. We are in charge of writing our own stories, not our well-meaning friends and family who bring up past experiences and sow seeds of doubt when we turn to them for guidance. Moreover, denying those nagging thoughts and emotions will only lead to them manifesting later, and often in ways that are less than desirable. In order to stop repeating the same mistakes over and over in our lives, we need to develop a strong sense of self-awareness. The way to do that, is through a fully conscious, brave, and compassionate look inward.” ~ Dina

20. “Pet an animal. Allow yourself to cry if you’re sad or upset. Rest.” ~ Karen

21. “You have to go through them to get over them. I’ve been running from feelings my whole life and there is no quick remedy. Sit in your stuff, it will get better as time goes on.” ~ Heather



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