A statement I hear a lot is “I shouldn’t feel this way”. Do you ever experience a valid, human emotion and then tell yourself it is wrong? When you believe you shouldn’t feel something, you resist it. You squash the feeling or push it away and avoid it.

How do we push it away? Some people keep smiling and pretending it’s not there, some people eat, others drink alcohol, take drugs or spend hours gaming or watching tv.

Do you know what happens to emotions that get pushed away? They stay there, waiting to be heard. When stresses build up, you get tired and let your guard down. Then the emotion comes flying in and overwhelms you. Something small and insignificant happens that you would normally take in your stride. The result is a rush of intense emotion that takes you, and those around you, by surprise.

What to do about it

Imagine standing in the sea. The water reaches waist height. You can see each wave coming toward you. If you try and hold back the waves from taking their course, you take a tumble, struggling to get back to the surface.

If you accept that the wave is coming and ready yourself for it, the scene looks different. You steady yourself with a strong stance. The wave lifts you off your feet, but you are braced to re-balance as you land back down. Each wave washes past and you remain strong and ready for the next one.

Emotional experience reflects this idea of standing in the waves. Accepting emotion and pain as a natural part of being human, allows you to look after yourself in the right way. This means emotions can wash over you naturally and fall away more quickly.

When you notice an emotion arrive today, let it be there. Let it wash over. Let it pass. Notice the difference when you stop fighting it. Instead, focus on soothing yourself through it and doing what is necessary to land back on your feet when it passes.