Working with unpleasant feelings is tough. When we take a close look at unpleasant feelings, we often find that they are telling us something about ourselves, and what matters to us. Learning to name and observe unpleasant feelings can allow us to make a choice about how we want to deal with them. Basically, there are two options:
1. Be unwilling to have the feelings. Try to get rid of them.
2. Be willing to have the feelings. Let them come and go-especially when this allows you to do something that’s important to you. For example, you might be willing to experience fear in order to make a presentation in class or ask someone out on a date.
Which option you choose is up to you.
Sometimes you cannot avoid difficult feelings without also giving up doing things that are important to you. To illustrate this point, take a moment to consider the following four willingness questions:
To strive for success, you risk all the following:
Feeling like a failure sometimes
Feeling sad about losing
Are you willing to strive for success anyway?
To search for love, you risk all of the following:
Are you willing to search for love anyway?
To be a friend, you risk all of the following:
Feeling let down
Feeling embarrassed when you do something you didn’t mean to
Getting your feelings hurt
Are you willing to be a friend anyway?
To have an adventure, you risk all of the following:
Feeling disappointed that it wasn’t as good as you had hoped
Feeling out of control sometimes
Feeling sad when the adventure ends
Learning unpleasant things about life, like dealing with unexpected difficulties
Are you willing to have an adventure anyway?
Each time you answer yes to questions like this, you give yourself the chance to expand your life and discover new things. Each time you answer no and try not to have certain feelings, you restrict yourself. We all have things in our lives that we would like to do but find a bit difficult. When feeling stuck, try using the willingness formula below.
I am willing to have __________ (fear, insecurity, sadness, anger and so on) in order to __________ (do something you care about).
Source: Ciarrocchi, J., Hayes, L., & Bailey, A. (2012). Get out of your mind and into your life for teens: a guide to living an extraordinary life. New Harbinger Publications Inc.
Blog Post by Registered Psychologist, Kerri Hill