There are many things in life we don’t seem to have control over in any given moment. These can be emotions that arise, things happening to us in our job or family situation, or how people react to us. How we naturally turn to fight these things, we inevitably end up feeling frustrated or upset which triggers us into some form of escape or avoidance (e.g., substance abuse). How can we be more skillful?

It’s important to acknowledge that we can’t control all things that come at us. Life just seems to happen sometimes. However, we can start cultivating a radically new relationship toward these automatic unwanted feelings that arise so we don’t amplify the situation and instead lend our experience toward more peace and calm that make for more effective actions.

“Letting be” is a key phrase I often use with people when it comes to difficult feelings and experiences. This implies an acknowledgement of what is happening and an “allowing” instead of “fighting against.”  This attitude is important in taking care of ourselves and enabling us to see what we really need in that moment more clearly. This may not be easy, but it’s a critical practice.

Try: One way to practice accepting difficult feelings is through the body where they often arise. Doing gentle stretching or yoga is a way to experience this while also being kind to your body at the same time. In doing these practices, you will undoubtedly feel some form of burning sensation (may be pleasant or unpleasant or both). When doing these practices, allow this feeling to be and even begin to breathe into it. You might say to yourself, “breathing into this feeling, I soften it, breathing out, I open to it.” Always knowing and respecting your limits when doing this. If you want professional support with this, check out a beginner’s yoga class in your area. This gives you the intimate experience of approaching, instead of avoiding, difficult feelings, and being able to manage yourself through it.

When unwanted feelings arise in daily life, you can turn your attention to it in the same way you did with the yoga practice. From this space you can then ask yourself, “What is the best way to take care of myself right now?” This will more often lead to skillful action.

What are some ways that you manage difficult feelings that would often lead to escape or avoidance? Please share your thoughts, questions, and stories below. Your interactions here provide a living wisdom for us all to benefit from.



View Comments / Leave a Comment

This post currently has 5 comments.
You can read the comments or leave your own thoughts.


LifeWorks NW (July 17, 2009)

Dr. Kathleen Young (July 17, 2009)

Sand (July 20, 2009)

From Psych Central's World of Psychology:
3 Ways We Can Control Our Moods | World of Psychology (September 9, 2009)

    Last reviewed: 17 Jul 2009

APA Reference
Goldstein, E. (2009). Unwanted Feelings Knocking at Your Door? Try this…. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 31, 2015, from


Mindfulness & Psychotherapy

Subscribe to this Blog:

Or Get a Single, Daily Email (enter email address):

via FeedBurner



Books and CDs by Dr. Elisha Goldstein:
Mindfulness Meditations for the Anxious Traveler: Quick Exercises to Calm Your Mind

The Now Effect: How This Moment Can Change The Rest of Your Life
A Mindfulness-Based
Stress Reduction Workbook

Subscribe to this Blog:

Or Get a Single, Daily Email (enter email address):

via FeedBurner

Recent Comments
  • Sara Jacobovici: Thank you so much Elisha for a beautifully written article. As an “integrator” I...
  • Kim Fredrickson, MFT: Thanks so much for all you have contributed in the area of self-compassion. I think that the...
  • jony: I m 26 years old girl. My childhood was very messy.tho i have my parents but i never lived with them. The...
  • Primus Hospital: I have enjoyed reading your blog. And am looking forward for more such blogs, Keep writing these...
  • John David Werner: “Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all of the barriers within...
Find a Therapist
Enter ZIP or postal code

Users Online: 12240
Join Us Now!