Lisa Shouldice MA, RP, CCC
Bloor-Christie and Bay-Queen's Quay
Sitting With Grief and Difficult Feelings
After 13 years as a Psychotherapist, I truly believe one of the healthiest choices we can make for ourselves is sitting with our difficult feelings. I definitely facilitate this when I am in session with my clients. I am also aware that many of us have no idea what this means and how to start!
So many of us avoid our difficult feelings by being busy, overworked, exhausted, drinking, and /or eating too much, etc. Sitting with difficult feelings is an under-rated skill. Every feeling we are capable of as a human species still exists in our experience as they are trying to tell you something. Anger prepares you for protecting yourself or loved ones, or lets you know when something has happened that crossed your boundaries and your spirit is saying “too much”, “no”. Anxiety is a signal for “too much change at once”, “overload”. Sadness is your body, mind and spirit healing loss. Joy is the gift that allows you to fully experience life and human connection. It is important to receive these messages because if we ignore difficult feelings, they can create a low level of apathy and discontentment that is with you all of the time. This can result in us feeling low, and not being able to identify our feelings beyond that, making healing difficult. Ignoring difficult feelings can also lead to physical illness. When we numb our difficult feelings, we also numb joy, happiness and pleasure in our lives. Therefore, sitting with difficult feelings is part of a healthy, happy life.
Now I do not necessarily suggest this be a time-consuming exercise that you set time aside for. It can simply be a regular part of everyday life. When you are presented with distressing information ex: there was a shooting in you neighbourhood, a favourite colleague is leaving your workplace, simply take a moment, close your eyes and let the feeling flow through your body. Just for a few minutes and then continue your day. This will also help you to better experience positive feelings like love and joy in your life.
When going through something really hard in your life ex: a divorce, death etc. this is when I suggest clearing a bit of space to sit with difficult feelings. I find when we are grieving it is something we carry with us all day, every day. It is in our body and weighs us down. So I suggest choosing a place and time where you can sit with difficult feelings for approximately 20 minutes. Simply let the grief come up in your body and let yourself cry, sob etc. Just let it flow. It is only 20 minutes. I know it hurts. But doing this every few days while you heal a tragic event, will help you feel better in the rest of your life in the short-term and help you to heal it completely in the long-term, leaving your spirit open to new, positive experience, without fears.
Thanks for reading. I hope I have described sitting with difficult feelings in a way that feels manageable and beneficial.
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