It is a such a challenge to deal with unpleasant emotions. We can get very hard on ourselves and blame ourselves for having negative feelings. In those moments, we discount all the good in us and see only the negative aspects of ourselves.

Artwork from a self-harming client

Feelings such as loneliness, sadness, depression, anger and fear are involuntary reactions. They are neither right nor wrong, good nor bad. Yet we have a tendency to judge and get down on ourselves for experiencing these negative feelings. Understandably, we get overwhelmed by these emotions because they are too loud, too close and too painful.

To avoid them, some of us get busy, some get more distracted through addictions, some get more frozen, time seems to stand still – whatever our strategies, we just want them to go away, but it seems to follow us like a shadow.

As we squarely face ourselves, we must make a distinction between our feelings and our decisions. Despite our feelings, we have the power to make decisions for ourselves. To act, take care, to get involved in our own healing.

Feelings can be signals trying to get us to pay attention to something we need, something we are not tending to. In fact, the root meaning of ‘psychotherapy’ in Greek is ‘tending to the soul’. The goal of psychotherapy is simply to clear the blocks so that we can see more clearly and choose more freely. Sometimes, it helps to get help.

What are you feeling at this time? Let’s decide to give some attention to your emotional landscape and come up with creative ways of discovering where it’s coming from and what it wants to say. Let’s decide to take care of yourself.