How to get good at feeling bad

Let’s be honest. It sucks to feel bad. We hate it when work blows up. Or we notice our pants are too tight. Or when someone doesn’t meet our expectations.

You know what? It’s all part of the package deal of being human. We don’t escape feeling disappointment, shame, hopelessness, crankiness, embarrassment…the whole kit and kaboodle. But what we often do is make it worse. Here’s what I mean…

Have you ever had an argument with your partner and felt angry, sad, betrayed or any other number of bad feelings? Of course. The real question is, what do you do when you’re feeling that way?

One tendency is to blame the other person. Weave a story in your head about how wrong he or she is and how if they would just see it your way, this wouldn’t have happened. Or maybe they should be more sensitive. Helpful. Thoughtful. Caring. Etc.

Another tendency is to beat yourself up. You should have known better. You should have done/said something different. You should have kept quiet.

But when we want to change the past – or blame/shame ourselves and others for what is – we are in essence arguing with reality. And as Byron Katie says, arguing with reality hurts.

And if you’re already hurting, why hurt more?

Start by releasing expectations of how things should go, of how others should behave. I’m not saying you shouldn’t have standards and proper boundaries. Be honest though. If your expectations are causing you undue pain, why keep them?

When something happens you wish hadn’t, consider how you feel and why you feel that way. Are you able to feel the first feeling (say, disappointment at not getting the promotion) without heaping more on top of it (like, feeling humiliated)? Give yourself even just a few minutes to feel that true feeling. No need to make it worse or bigger than it is. Just be with it.

Then decide what’s next. Maybe it’s something you need to address, in which case you can come from a clearer head space. If not, then change the channel. Turn your focus to something else. You can come back to that feeling later. No need to wallow in it.

There’s a good reason to get good at feeling bad…you actually feel better.

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