Many dear people I know are currently experiencing overwhelming feelings of sadness, grief, anger, and fear. I thought it might be helpful to provide some tools for what we therapists call- sitting in the suck. Many of my clients have had the “privilege” ( insert sarcasm) of me guiding them through this in session.
Most of us feel that it is counter-intuitive to actively feel our uncomfortable feelings- we use all types of distractions, staying busy, always having a project, binge watching Netflix ( my personal fave!), alcohol, drugs to NOT feel painful feelings. While using the above methods can be effective tools – the AND of it is that it is also wise and healing to honor and experience our painful emotions. This can be quite the daunting task.
Let’s break it down.
Sometimes it’s effective to set a timer for 5 minutes so you know there is a finite end.
First, get in a comfortable position. Start slowing down your breathing and noticing the rise and fall of your tummy, your chest filling up with air and then emptying. Just notice whatever feelings arise and say, “Hello, Sadness ( insert any feeling here)- I see you.” Allow your body to respond however it responds like a casually curious and compassionate observer. Your body may cry, shake, feel numb, scream… whatever happens inside just keep breathing and fully experience it without any judgement. Breathing and acknowledging your distress. Letting it exist. Sometimes it helps to say out loud, “ I am sad. I am afraid. This is uncomfortable and feels weird. I am angry.” AND just keep breathing and sitting with whatever it is – notice the intensity and how it may flare and then settle, or it may feel like the pain is so heavy in different places within your body. Or you may feel absolutely nothing. Just let it be there and notice you are surviving it. You are sitting with yourself and holding the space for whatever it is that feels burdensome.
The more you consistently practice this, the more you may feel like it is a release- it can be a useful method to self-soothe. Or it may continue to feel awkward and not something you really get excited about but know it is still a good idea- kind of like going to the dentist. I actually look forward to my time sitting in the suck because afterwards, I feel a warmth inside- like I am being held by someone who loves me.
So, may we all allow ourselves the interesting and seemingly unlikable gift of sitting in the suck.