Distressing Emotions

Distressing Emotions

Are your bothered by emotions – such as anger, irritability, sadness, fear and shame – that:

  • Overwhelm you or make you feel stuck
  • Repeat themselves over and over
  • Don’t go away even when your circumstances shift
  • Make you feel bad about yourself
  • Take joy out of your life
  • Cause other types of distress

How Therapy Can Help

If so, therapy can help you find relief from distress and resolve underlying issues. Therapy can provide a safe, supportive and nonjudgmental space in which to:

  • Explore and process distressing emotions
  • Identify feelings, thoughts and memories that lie underneath, and that shape and influence, your immediate emotional experience
  • Identify and change negative beliefs that contribute to emotional distress
  • Heal wounded parts of yourself
  • Cultivate feelings of respect, kindness and compassion towards yourself
  • Develop new and nourishing experiences that undermine distressing emotions and provide what was missing in the past – for example, experiences of feeling loved, appreciated, strong, heard or seen
  • Grieve past losses, find forgiveness of yourself and others, and find acceptance of what cannot be changed
  • Tap the intelligence of emotions – as even distressing emotions may contain healthy, empowering signals that point to areas of your life that are not working well, needs that are not being met, and actions you need to take

Therapy can also reduce your vulnerability to distressing emotions by helping you become more skilled at regulating emotions. Emotion regulation skills include:

  • Managing your environment to make it less activating
  • Cultivating positive experiences – by focusing on pleasant, comforting and empowering sensations in your body, or engaging in pleasurable activities
  • Using breathing and other relaxation and grounding techniques to calm and soothe your nervous system
  • Using affirming self-talk to shift negative thinking
  • Drawing support from external resources, such as healthy relationships
  • Changing your relationship to distressing emotions through nonjudgmental observation of emotions, self-directed kindness and compassion, and other mindfulness practices

See Therapeutic Modalities for a description of specific modalities I use in working with distressing emotions.