Difficulty Verbalizing Emotional Pain? How to Address Unwanted Emotions

Do you ever find yourself getting stuck in a difficult emotion, and aren’t sure why you are feeling that way? Maybe it’s an overarching feeling of sadness, anxiety, overwhelm, dissatisfaction, fear, frustration.. Something feels off, and you don’t know how to fully verbalize it.

This is something I experience more often than I’d like to admit. I desire to be conscious, compassionate, and self-aware. In fact, my work as a health and life coach requires me to be conscious and compassionate, for the sake of myself and my clients. 

However, at times, I experience difficult emotions, thoughts and feelings that I do not want to process. 

So instead, I stay in a standstill with myself. I refuse to process the difficult emotions or thoughts out of fear. And the truth is, what you resist persists. This unwanted energy lingers around me, never truly being acknowledged. It remains as the elephant in the room. 

So I distract and numb myself. TV shows, movies, texting, exercise, chocolate, social media etc. Which trust me- distraction can absolutely be very healthy when necessary. Especially in a highly triggered state. 

And eventually there is a point where I realize that I cannot keep this up. Well actually.. I can keep this up. But if I do, I will choose to live a life repressing different parts of myself that want to be heard. Parts that want to be acknowledged, seen, healed and forgiven. 

In these triggered moments, I choose to use skills that I’ve learned over time to support myself. Below are skills that I’d highly recommend for addressing unwanted emotions:

  1. Say “yes” to whatever you are feeling or experiencing: this can involve verbalizing “yes” out loud or in your head. The act accepting your challenges and saying yes to your current state is liberating.
  2. Remind yourself that you are not alone in this pain: the simple acknowledgement that you are not alone in your pain can do wonders. You are not the only person that has experienced jealousy, stress, trauma, pain, a breakup, discomfort, betrayal, failure, etc.
  3. Ho’oponopono: this Hawaiian practice of forgiveness. Say “I’m sorry, please forgive me, thank you, I love you.” Saying these words to yourself with intention is one of the kindest gifts you can give yourself when triggered. 
  4. Mentally scan your body to find where the tension and pain linger: emotional pain also shows up in the body. Every-body is different, and holds tension and stress in different areas: in the shoulders, forehead, jaw, etc. Bringing nonjudgmental awareness to the areas of tension can help you resolve some of the emotional distress you are experiencing.    
  5. Find support in a friend, family member, therapist, or coach: having another human support you in a difficult time and make you feel heard and can be incredibly liberating. Ask yourself who is available and capable of supporting you in a healthy and constructive way. 

This is not an exhaustive list by any means, as there are many more techniques to address unwanted emotions. 

Remember- it is human to experience triggers and upsets. There are many tools and supports to help you in the process of addressing, accepting and overcoming these unwanted emotions. 

About the Author

Claire Semelka is a Certified Health Coach through Duke Integrative Medicine that supports individuals to mindfully break free from old patterns to live their fullest lives. Claire helps clients gain awareness around limiting beliefs, create healthy lifestyle habits, and tap into their fullest potential.

Contact Claire

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