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How to Befriend Your Painful Emotions in 5 Simple Steps

Updated: Mar 26

Written by: Kristin Kisell, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

Being human means experiencing a rainbow of emotions. As much as you try to run, hide, or deny your emotions, they will continue to remain with you, somewhere in your body, mind, and heart, until you learn to befriend, honor, and acknowledge them. Perhaps you are afraid that if you allow yourself to feel a painful emotion you may end up stuck with it, that it will not actually go away, or that you might even end up in a heap of a mess on the floor and will not ever get back up. Emotions are simply energy. An energy that is wanting to move through you. Running, hiding, or denying your emotional energy, painful or not, it will get stuck, and you will have to face it one day.

As a deep feeler and thinker, I know firsthand what happens when I have run, hidden, or denied my actual emotions, especially the painful ones. They built up like a ton of bricks wrapping around my heart and cutting me off from actually being engaged with my life and building intimacy with myself and others. I would fool myself by thinking I have wonderful connections when in actuality, I did not. I didn’t even have a connection with myself. I happy pilled everything and pretended that things were fine when they were not at all.

One day the bricks I had used to protect my heart all came crashing down. Life brought me a significant event that forced me to face the real me and all the painful emotions I had tried to deny and hide. I was that heap of a mess on my hallway floor. Have you had one of those moments? Do you remember what you were hiding or running from? That moment taught me a lot. Not only did it teach me to face myself and how I felt in the end, but it also taught me that I am resilient, that I do not have to run from my painful emotions, and that I have the fortitude to continue my life’s journey. I did not allow that moment and the myriad of painful emotions to take me out of my life. I am where I am today because that moment awakened in me what I needed to see. And, I have had plenty of other awakening moments since then.

The truth is that if I had paid attention to what my emotions were telling me all along, I would have made different, more supportive choices in my life. I did not need to let my emotions overwhelm me. Is there a time in your life or perhaps presently that you can relate to this? I am here to share with you that you do not need to end up as a heap of a mess on your hallway floor or anywhere for that matter, and if you do, that is okay. You can choose to pick yourself back up by listening to your emotions as messengers and gifts.

Your emotions are messengers trying to awaken you to the truth of something much deeper—a simple truth. That simple truth is you, your heart, sharing with you. The more you can slow down, befriend your emotions, particularly the painful ones, the more you will be able to listen to your true self and be more engaged with your life. In this article, I will share what emotions are, how they are your great teachers in life, and how to welcome them in and befriend them as your guides.

Emotions are energy—energy that we feel in our bodies. Emotions are neither bad nor good; they simply are. As a human being, you are wired to have emotions—no escaping them. One of the best things to do is allow them to be seen and heard, similarly, the way you would give time and energy to a loved one. Now, life will always bring you what you need to learn, and you will feel painful emotions. Let’s face it, being engaged with life is at times like climbing Mt. Everest. Painful emotions will surface and present themselves. The paradoxical beauty of painful emotions is that they show you what you need and what is important to you. They hold a simple gift of truth within.

For example, not too long ago, I became incredibly defensive and angry at my partner for asking me a question about my past and if I regretted a decision. I thought, how dare he ask me that. When I later slowed down to reflect on the conversation and the emotions that came up for me at that moment, I knew it was not my partner I was angry with. I was angry with myself, and in fact, I had regretted that particular decision. The truth was that I had not been honest with myself. I tucked that morsel of truth away so I would not have to take responsibility for that particular choice. Also, I had not been honest with myself that I was depressed and unhappy with myself and my life. My partner’s question and our conversation were the awakening gifts that I needed to take a deeper look at.

By allowing myself to feel the emotions that came from that conversation and then later reflect, I made the supportive choice to seek professional help. A seemingly small conversation and emotional awakening can change your life for the better if you are willing to get honest with yourself.

Here are 5 simple steps that will help you learn more about your painful emotions as messengers to befriend them and know them as your allies.

How to Befriend and Welcome in Your Painful Emotions as Messengers and Gifts:

1. Find a quiet space to be with yourself without distractions.


2. Place your hands over your heart or one hand on your heart and another on your belly. With a soft gaze, take three deep breaths. Then, switch the orientation of your hands and take three more deep breaths.


3. Allowing your hands to relax, welcome in your emotion(s), and feel into how the emotion moves in and through your body. As a parent holds a child with love, you are welcoming you and your emotions into this space to be seen, heard, and understood.


4. Now, you will have a conversation with yourself and what you are experiencing. Taking time to reflect, you can write out the following:

  • I am (emotion) because (your reasoning).

  • Example: I am sad because I realized I am not happy in my relationship. I am scared to end it because I will not know what to do with myself.

  • What is happening underneath is... (This is where you slow down to see what simple truth the emotion is pointing you towards. The simple truth will only be about you, not anyone else.)

  • The following questions can support you in coming to your truth…What situation awakened this emotion in me? Is this the first time I have felt this? What have I been denying or not wanting to see or admit? What is this emotion trying to tell me about myself? How can I take responsibility for it? What loving, kind, and compassionate thing can I do to move the energy I am feeling constructively and healthily?

  • Staying with the above relationship example, you might find that: I see that my relationship is unhealthy. I know I have lost myself in it. I know I need to make a change. For now, I acknowledge my truth and state it out loud. I trust myself to do what I know I need to when I am ready.

5. Once you feel calm and complete, repeat the initial breathing exercise and give yourself gratitude for taking the time to be engaged with yourself and your life.

By taking the time out to be with yourself and slowdown in your life, you will begin to cultivate and build self-value and intimacy with yourself to experience a more fulfilling, thriving life. Emotions are energy, and they want to be seen, felt, and heard. Lean into them. You will learn much about yourself, what you want in life, and the areas in which you wish to make more supportive, aligned choices to become the best version of you. And, as a gentle reminder, the simple truth is that the best version of you is always a work in progress. Slowing down and getting to know yourself will be your best guide in living a flourishing life and coming back home to your true self, one day and one step at a time.


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Kristin Kisell, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Kristin Kissell is a leader in cultivating mind-body-spirit connection, understanding emotional well-being, and developing a deep spirituality for a flourishing life. Kristin is a theologian, medium, professional coach, facilitator, and writer specializing in body and somatic education, mind-body-spirit connection through blending unique aspects of Ignatian Spirituality, Divine Feminine, intuition, and the chakras, along with the process of how to live a thriving life through discovering your Soul Compass. She creates safe, sacred space for spiritual discovery, embodied wisdom, and intuitive guidance for the crossroads of life. Her 25+ years as a trained dancer, along with her Master of Arts in Theology, specializing in spirituality and comparative theology, is where she has honed her creative expression, voice, dedication, and artistic coaching mastery.

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