Most of us learn to stifle our emotions from a young age. Leaning into hard feelings sets us up for long-term healing. Here’s how to do it.
Outrunning our harder emotions might seem immediately attractive, but it doesn’t have a very promising shelf life. With over 35 losses a single person can experience in a lifetime (and more after the pandemic), it’s pivotal to learn to lean into the tough stuff in order to move through it.
From a young age, most of us are actually conditioned to adopt behaviors that help us avoid and evade hard feelings. From being told not to cry, to rewarding ourselves with sweet treats as soothing mechanisms, we all learn fairly early on to distract from our emotions in the hopes of dodging painful experiences.
Distracting With Dopamine
The ways in which we avoid our feelings range far and wide. While drinking and smoking are well-known avoidance behaviors, some coping mechanisms don’t always look immediately alarming. They can look like:
- Binging TV/Social Media
- Excessive sex
- Online shopping
Any form of circumventing our pain with a dopamine hit can become an unhealthy way to get around our grief—even hopping on the phone to chat with girlfriends can become a chronic avoidance tactic. Engaging in behaviors that take our pain away in the short-term always results in long-term consequences (usually in the form of our pain resurfacing with a vengeance). Not only have we not dealt with the pain, but we may even feel shame at some of our actions. Additionally, we can develop a tolerance for our vices and need more of them to get the same distraction.
Diving Into Pain
We generally aren’t taught as children to make space for healthy grief, but it’s a crucial component of our experience in adulthood. Approaching our pain and anxieties with open arms and welcoming the grieving process is a surefire path toward sustainable healing and the quality of life you deserve.
We aren’t saying, “Don’t have that glass of wine” (we would never say that), but we are asking you to subsidize the dopamine hit of your favourite avoidance behaviors with the stuff that matters—peeling back the layers of your pain in an effort to heal and thrive again.
Have your grieving process. Grab a piece of paper before the chocolate cake and start peeling your layers back. Journaling and the act of writing down the pain and emotion you are going through are not only therapeutic, but help you understand exactly where you are, and what you might need.
Face Your Feelings
Grief is hard enough on its own to navigate. If you are having trouble facing your emotions, you are not alone. We see you, we know you’re hurting, and want to offer you a safe place to share your story and feel supported in your healing journey. Contact us today to set up a free discovery call and spend some time with us – we’re here for you.
Sharon Brubaker is a certified Life Coach and credentialed Grief Specialist who, along with her team, teaches women who are grieving how to process their thoughts and emotions. To learn more about navigating grief within the family, listen to the full podcast episode here or download my free e-Book, The Griever’s Guide, which equips you with the tools to live life after grief; because no griever should have to navigate a broken heart on their own.