Dealing with the difficult emotions

Dealing with the difficult emotions can often be the core of some mental health issues.  We're often taught strategies of avoidance or defensiveness, though with perfectly good intentions.

Types of Difficult Emotions

Sometimes difficult emotions such as anxiety, sadness or anger are met with assumptions of weakness, moodiness or being "too sensitive."  In reality, these emotions tell us something really important about our environment.  For example, immediate heart racing and the sense of jumping out of your skin if a rattlesnake is next to you might be screaming Anxiety!  Run!  How we respond to them is often the part that can make or break our relationships to others and ourselves.

Therapy can often help with the response aspect of dealing with difficult emotions.  One crucial component of most therapy is that you feel validated for the emotions that do come up.  Even if those emotions feel irrational, chances are they are telling you something important.  This may be that your threat system is activated and we need to work on a response that activates your safety system instead.  You'll often hear a therapist ask you to take a few deep breaths.  Activating a social safety system is often the goal here!  Therapists can serve as objective listeners who give feedback to what may lie beneath and give guidance on how to match responses to difficult emotions with the values of the client.

Other strategies may include building awareness and curiosity about difficult emotions.  This takes some tolerance of such emotions and the ability to sit with them enough to ask yourself curious types of questions such as "what might my environment be trying to tell me right now?"

Counseling can be a great way to explore dealing with difficult emotions and assisting in helpful responses.  We have therapists on staff who are happy to schedule a time to chat with you!  A variety of approaches can be used depending on the individual needs of each client.  Check out our About Us page and then schedule with one of our therapists here:


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