Coping With Difficult Emotions

This essay was originally written for a man who was feeling betrayed when his girlfriend lied to him while he was in recovery. Its methods can be used for any emotion you are struggling with.

Betrayal is a difficult emotion. The sense of injustice that makes is hard to let go of the feelings. When you carry resentment, it does not harm the other person. However, it makes you miserable. So forgiveness is really for you. It gives you peace.

Just because you forgive them, you don’t have to have the other person in your life. Should you choose to keep them in your life, you may choose to keep them at a distance or at least trust them a little less now that you know what they are capable of. In other words, forgive them, but keep your eyes open.

The first step in letting go of unpleasant emotions is in accepting them. You read that right. Fighting an emotion, makes it worse. The tension prevents the emotion from moving from its beginning to its middle and then to its end.

The way to allow an emotion to go through its phases and become an new feeling is by relaxing. This is not as difficult as it sounds, but it is a practice. It a muscle that strengthens every time you use it.

Do some stretching to help you to relax. Slow your breathing down and deepen it. while you stretch.

Now become aware of the sensations in your torso. Make sure your breath is still slow and deep. Your torso may have some unpleasant sensations, this is what betrayal feels like. Feeling it help you to process it.

Your mind will wander back to your thoughts of betrayal. That is OK. Gently bring your attention back to the sensations in your torso. Deepen your breathing and slow the breath down again.

Be aware of the sensations in your torso as they move and change. Of course, your mind will wander back to your thoughts. Again, this is OK. Gently bring your attention back to the sensations in your torso. Deepen your breathing and slow the breath down again.

I want to say a little about the thoughts. One of the things that keep us stuck in an emotion is rumination. In your case, rumination would be obsessive thoughts about being betrayed.  Every time you have a thought about the betrayal, you will feel the emotion of betrayal again. This will give you more unpleasant feelings in your torso. This is why it is important to bring your attention away from thought and back to sensation.

If you are finding the sensations too uncomfortable to stay with, try the following. It is based on The Judgment Release from Process Coaching.

[A]s you are feeling into the energy of the feeling there your body… ask yourself, “What is the judgment here?”

If you are feeling self-hatred related to the judgment, you can begin the process with the following release statement:

“I release the judgment that I must hate myself because I ____.” (And then continue with the other statements.) [otherwise move to the next statement.

“I release the judgment that I am bad because I ____.” (Insert whatever you did, thought or felt.)

So, now you have changed your mind, you no longer judge yourself as ‘bad’ because of something you did, thought or felt. The next step is to change your mind about the thing itself. The words that do this are:

“I release the judgment that ____ is bad or wrong.”
(Insert the same as above.)

If the judgment is a negative quality such as “I am lazy,” “stupid,” “unworthy,” etc., or ‘too sensitive,” “too controlling,” etc. finish up with the following release statement:

“I release the judgment that I am in fact ____.”

When the word ‘too’ is part of the judgment release statement (e.g. “too emotional,” finish up with this final release statement:

“I release the judgment that I am in fact too ____.”

If the judgment release statement contains something that you have been
doing up to now and want to stop (e.g. “eating too much”) you can use this
final release statement:

“I release the judgment that I must continue ____.”

After releasing the judgment, be sure to feel back into the feeling that you began with in your body, and notice any changes. Continue releasing judgments held in the feeling until you are able to accept the feeling in your body as it is or until the feeling no longer feels ‘bad.’

Try what I described for five minutes and you should feel a change in your emotions. You may still feel betrayal, but it should lessen. If it does lessen, do this exercise once in the morning and once at night for a couple of days and the betrayal should dissipate.

If after five minutes, there is no change, then you may want to work with your thoughts. Do some stretching and deep breathing to relax yourself and then ask yourself: What is it you truly want in your heart of hearts? What will life be like when you no longer feel the betrayal? Imagine what it will look like. Is your girlfriend in the picture? Is there anything you need to do to straighten things out? If pleasant feelings come up at anytime during this exercise, let them wash over your body.

If you are still feeling betrayed, get as relaxed as you can and allow yourself to put yourself in your girlfriend’s shoes. Remaining in your girlfriends shoes, consider the following questions: Why did she lie? Did she believe it to be in your best interest to lie? What was she trying to achieve? If pleasant feelings come up, let them wash over your body.

Source: The Judgment Release

©2016 Stephen L. Martin

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