Updated: Apr 16, 2021
ALLOW. The first step in dealing with frustration, anger, sadness, grief or any other so-called negative emotion is to simply allow it to be. Acknowledge its presence and accept, that for now, this is how you feel. When talking to my clients, I often use the analogy of a beach ball. Imagine being at the beach or in the pool and you have this giant, colorful beach ball that you are bouncing in the air. Picture what would happen if you were to try and submerge the beach ball under the water. The result, of course, would be that it would pop right back up. Imagine the amount of energy it would take to hold it under water. This paints a vivid picture of what happens when we try to ignore or block our negative emotions from our consciousness. First of all, it is almost impossible to do this and the effort involved robs us of valuable mental energy. Secondly, sooner or later, the emotions will return to the surface, unchanged and perhaps even more powerful than before.
Explore the emotion, be curious about it. Describe it. Name it. When did you feel like this before? Become fully engaged with it as you simply allow it to be.
RELEASE the emotion. Once you have allowed and accepted the emotion without resistance, simply let it go. Paradoxically, the act of allowing and accepting robs the emotion of its power and it naturally begins to dissipate. Go gently with yourself as you release the unwanted emotion. Imagine releasing a bunch of balloons and watching them silently float up into the sky or spreading your fingers to let a handful of warm sand slip through effortlessly.
TREAT yourself with compassion and TLC. Acknowledge that you have just come through an experience that was challenging and perhaps draining. This is part of being gentle with yourself. Engage in some soothing self-care: take a bubble bath or hot shower, go for a walk, listen to your favorite music, light a scented candle or some incense, talk to a supportive friend, spend time with a beloved pet. Everyone has their favorite list of self-care activities, so find what is calming for you and take some time for yourself.
The ART of dealing with difficult emotions is effortless but effective. Stop the struggle. Allow, release and above all else, take good care of yourself through the process.