In life, we all experience emotional hurt, pain, and distress. Sometimes these experiences come unexpectedly and can be very overwhelming. When people experience these things in their lives, it is natural to want to stop the discomfort and pain. Unfortunately, it is not always possible to do this, so we are required to draw upon our coping skills, some of which may not be very healthy or successful. Today, it is my goal to discuss ways you can learn ways to tolerate these unwanted or unpleasant emotions.
Here are some questions you can ask yourself to learn more effective coping strategies and techniques in accepting and tolerating uncomfortable emotions:
1. What do I think about these emotions? What is the narrative I am telling myself about these emotions? Am I accepting of them or am I resistant and fearful? How do I perceive my pain and emotional distress? Is it something I can control or change? Are my thoughts making the situation worse (i.e., catastrophic thinking, denial, etc.)?
2. How can I distract myself from what I am experiencing? What are some things I can do to take my mind off of the distressing emotions I am experiencing right now? What do I enjoy doing that could help me feel better? Is there something I can do for someone else, so I can forget about my own issues for awhile?
3. How can I self-soothe or relax to help myself feel better? What is relaxing to me? Using my senses, what are some ways I can self-soothe (i.e., scented candles, looking through a magazine, listen to relaxing music, take a hot bath, eat chocolate, etc.)? Do I know how to use breathing exercises, imagery or visualization to reduce my stress?
In utilizing some of these techniques and answering these questions, you can begin to learn new coping strategies in effectively dealing with painful and unpleasant emotions that are part of life experiences. I hope that this has been helpful for you!
Written by Emily Freeze, MPH, MA, LMFT
Emily Freeze, MPH, MA, LMFT is a marriage and family therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group. Emily enjoys doing individual counseling, couples counseling and family counseling. Emily specializes in women's issues, specifically maternal mental health and reproductive mental health.
Imagine Hope serves the Indianapolis area, including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Fishers, Noblesville, Zionsville, and Westfield.