May 23 – Self Compassion and Difficult Emotions

Written by Karyn Hall

May 23, 2020

Did you know that when people are successful in therapy, they don’t usually experience fewer negative emotions and more positive emotions? What actually happens is that they become more comfortable having mixed emotions, both happy and otherwise.

Sometimes we may focus on being happy and content, and see that as positive mental health. We’ve become seekers of comfort. We tend to look at discomfort as meaning there is something wrong or we’ve failed in some way.

You cannot get rid of challenging emotions without squelching happiness, meaning, grit, curiosity and personal growth. Not feeling anger, sadness, or fear would require becoming numb. Being numb would take away joy, love and happiness as well. 

If you eliminated all difficult emotions, then you would also not have important information that those emotions give you. For example, anger is an emotion that many find difficult. Anger in itself is neither good or bad, it’s what you do with the anger that makes the difference. Anger is typically seen as being the fault of someone else, what they did or didn’t do. Usually you believe you’ve been treated unfairly or something/someone is blocking you from achieving goals that are important to you. That’s important information. So, check the facts. Were you treated unfairly? If so, what are your options? Is there a block to your goals? What options will work best in this situation?

Feeling anger not only gives you important information, but it’s also true that feeling anger is associated with a more optimistic outlook and creativity. Anger can help you be more creative!

Sometimes irritation (mild anger) can be a motivator. While angry outbursts are ineffective and regrettable, irritation can spur you to perform better. It’s also true that anger can spur people to fight against injustice. 

Today, be compassionate to yourself about feeling difficult emotions such as fear, sadness, anger, and hurt. Listen to what you need to learn from these emotions.

Live a skill-full life. By, Karyn Hall, Ph.D., May 23, 2020

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