How to Thrive When Things Suck

Last year, the jolly month of December turned into a difficult winter of tragedy and loss. I’m reminded of that time now because another friend lost his life, and I’m noticing the memories and pain flooding my heart again. Years ago, when faced with these painful emotions, I would numb out through prescription medication, drinking, or total avoidance through TV and other distractions. I kept my emotions inside. As you can guess, those methods didn’t help me at all and only made my pain worse. Here’s why.

Emotions are meant to move. The root of the word is from the French Emouvoir, to move.  Not only does it take TONS of energy to keep your emotions hidden inside, but denying them have harmful effects on your body and spirit (such as depression, insomnia, anxiety, or addictions). Then when you least expect it, those suppressed emotions get triggered and you find yourself acting out in ways that don’t align with your highest good. Trust me, I’ve been there.

Here are 3 ways to deal with your pain in healthy and responsible ways:

1. Welcome your pain.  As human beings we all have emotions and it’s important to give them space, even when your emotions are painful. This guided “Welcoming Meditation”  is an opportunity to welcome what is. Find a sacred space, and make a commitment to focus in on your uncomfortable emotion for 5-20 minutes. Some uncomfortable emotions might be fear, sadness, jealousy, anger, anxiety, overwhelm, frustration, or grief etc.

  • The first step of this meditation is feeling your emotion instead of pushing it away. Feeling the sensations of that emotion in your body.
  • The second step is welcoming it and accepting it by saying in your mind’s eye, “welcome <insert emotion>.” Surround your emotion with love and compassion.
  • Go back and forth between steps one and two as long as it takes until the overwhelming quality of that feeling subsides.
  • The third step is surrender, saying in your mind’s eye, “I let go of control. I let go of the desire to change.”
  • The final step is letting go. If you can’t let it go, go through this whole meditation again. When you’re ready, say in your mind’s eye “I let go of <emotion>,” and watch it float away.

2. Turn your pain into art. Now that you have faced and felt your pain, you can free your pain through creativity. Choose any medium you desire. Watercolor, acrylics, sketching, etc.  One method that works wonders for me and my clients is collaging. This is where you give your emotion a voice, expression, and color. For every pain or uncomfortable emotion, find an image associated with it, and cut and glue each image, emotion by emotion onto a piece of paper. The result is two-fold: you get a beautiful art piece, and you get to witness your pain in a contained art-form outside yourself. National Geographic is a great magazine to use.

3. Emotional Release. This is probably the most important step: letting your emotions move. Give yourself permission to release your emotions through crying, (safely) punching your pillows, or even screaming into a pillow. If you feel resistant to doing this, I get it. This probably sounds ridiculous. But the truth is, the greater the resistance, the greater the wound.  Put on a song that evokes your emotion at hand, and give yourself the space to let go. Feel your body and it’s natural impulse, and then let it out. Stay fully present during this process; before, during and after. It’s called emotional release for a reason- you’ll feel a great amount of relief after just 90 seconds of crying, punching, or screaming. By moving your emotions, you free up your energy and create new space inside. 

My next retreat, Celebration of Woman, is the safest space to explore your emotions as a woman. It’s here that you will fall in love with yourself by releasing everything that holds you back from being happy and at peace. It was there that I found my freedom and in turn, my purpose as a women’s empowerment coach. It’s February 26th – March 1st in San Luis Obispo, California. To learn more about this workshop, I’m happy to have a free 30 minute consultation with you. To schedule your free call, sign up here.

It takes courage to feel your emotions, and I acknowledge you for exploring new ways to thrive, even when things suck.


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