6 Steps to Mindfully Deal with Difficult Emotions

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6 Steps to Mindfully Deal with Difficult Emotions

By Toni Parker

Let’s get real here. For most of us – myself included – life is fast-paced and chock full of family, relationship, and work stressors. This reality, along with the ever-increasing pressures of technology and society at large, can really take a toll on your marriage. As a result, difficult emotions like anger, confusion, fear, loneliness, and sadness, just to name a few, can arise. Emotions like these are often the most present and powerful forces in your life. For those people who feel anxious on a daily basis, it is important that you are able to get it under control. Maybe you should decide to try CBD products; which you can get from somewhere like The Cbdepot Shop to help with this emotion so you can feel better faster. There are alternative methods that can help you to deal with other emotions too.

The key to overcoming these difficult emotions is mindfulness! Practicing mindfulness enables you to calm down and soothe yourself. In this state, you have space to reflect and thoughtfully respond, rather than react.

Following these six steps will help you to understand and deal with your difficult emotions in a mindful way:

1. Turn toward your emotions with acceptance
Once you become aware of the emotion you are feeling, notice where it is in your body. You may feel it as a stomachache, a tightening of your throat, the pounding of your heart, or tension somewhere. Sit with this anger, anxiety, depression, grief, guilt, sadness, shame, or whatever emotion you are experiencing. Become aware of it and don’t ignore it. If this is difficult, get up and walk around or get a cup of tea.

The key here is to not push the emotion away. Bottling it up inside will only cause it to bubble up and explode later, resulting in more difficult emotions or even a complete emotional shutdown. Listen to your difficult emotions. They are trying to help you wake up to what is going on before a major crisis occurs.

2. Identify and label the emotion
Instead of saying, “I am angry”, say, “This is anger” or, “This is anxiety.” In this way, you’re acknowledging its presence, while simultaneously empowering you to remain detached from it.

When my husband was in the hospital before he passed, I felt a deep sense of uncertainty, anxiety, and fear. I needed to acknowledge and identify the emotions and say to myself, “I know that I am experiencing anxiety and fear right now and I don’t know what will happen, but I am going to just ‘be’ with it.” Although it remained an extremely painful experience to the end, identifying and labeling my emotions in this way allowed me to take some of the pain out of what I was feeling. This, in turn, allowed me to stay in the present, versus catapulting me into the future, or trapping me in the past. Being thrust in either direction would have only caused me to blame myself. I can just imagine how that critical voice would have rung out, “If only you would have done something different, maybe there would have been a different outcome.”

3. Accept your emotions
When you are feeling a certain emotion, don’t deny it. Acknowledge and accept that the emotion is present, whether it is anxiety, grief, sadness, or whatever you are experiencing in that moment. Through mindful acceptance you can embrace difficult feelings with compassion, awareness, and understanding towards yourself and your partner.

Think of a friend or a loved one who might be having a hard time. What would you say to them? Bring the scenario of what you would say to them into your mind’s eye. Now, say the same thing to yourself: “I am ok. I am not to blame. I did the best I could.” Hold these images and phrases within yourself with loving kindness and compassion. Extend this act of kindness toward yourself and become aware of what is going on within you. In this way you will gain the power to not only calm and soothe yourself, but also your partner.

You will soon come to realize that you are not your anger, fear, grief, or any other difficult emotion you are feeling. Instead you will begin to experience these emotions in a more fleeting manner, like clouds that pass by in the sky. Opening yourself up to your emotions allows you to create a space of awareness, curiosity, and expansiveness that you can then apply to your relationship, as well as any other aspect of your life.

4. Realize the impermanence of your emotions
Every one of your emotions is impermanent. They arise and reside within you for a time, and then disappear. It’s easy to forget this when you’re in the midst of dealing with difficult emotions.

Allow yourself to witness and observe your emotions with kind attention and patience, giving them the latitude to morph, and in many cases, completely evaporate. To embrace this process, ask yourself: “What and where is this feeling? What do I need now? How can I nurture it? What can I do for my partner? What can my partner do for me? How can we, as a couple, turn toward one another with acts of loving-kindness?” Asking these focused questions and responding in turn will go a long way to promote empathy, compassion, and connection within your relationship.

5. Inquire and investigate
After you have calmed and soothed yourself from the impact of your emotions, take a moment to delve deeply and explore what happened.

Ask yourself: “What triggered me? What is causing me to feel this way? What is the discomfort I’m experiencing and where is it arising? Was it as result of my critical mind, or was it in reaction to something my partner said or did?”

Perhaps you had a hard day at work or difficulty dealing with your family. Maybe you feel unappreciated, lonely, or disconnected as a result of your interactions with someone. Whatever the cause or trigger, look at it closely and ask yourself, “What is happening here?”

Consider what was said or done and compare it to your values. What were your expectations surrounding the situation? What reactions or judgments caused you to become angry or anxious? Is this a pattern that keeps arising?

Asking yourself these critical questions and investigating the root of your difficult emotions will help you gain empathy and insight into what you are experiencing.

Taking yourself off autopilot and trusting your deepest, authentic self to answer these questions about your situation will create a space to see things with a different perspective. This will ultimately allow both you and your partner to be more present and connected with each other.

6. Let go of the need to control your emotions
The key to mindfully dealing with your difficult emotions is to let go of your need to control them. Instead, be open to the outcome and what unfolds. Step outside of yourself and really listen to what your partner is feeling and what he or she has to say. Only then will you truly gain an in-depth understanding of your emotions and the interactions surrounding them within your relationship.

Mindfully dealing with emotions is hard and it takes time. Be kind, compassionate, and patient with yourself and your partner. You’re in this together! As Dr. John Gottman has said, “In a good relationship people get angry, but in a very different way. The Marriage Masters see a problem a bit like a soccer ball. They kick it around. It’s ‘our’ problem.”

We are fortunate that we live in a world where you and your partner can take the time to explore, discuss, and learn about mindfulness and your emotions. Take nothing for granted, for life is fragile and fleeting!

If you would like help dealing with difficult emotions, please contact CornerStone Family Services at 614-459-3003 to talk with a counselor or coach.

Cactus Relationships

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Our attitudes impact our mental, emotional, social, physical, and spiritual health during difficult times in life. Consider the following when it feels like you have been handed a cactus in life:


If you would like help during a difficult time of life, please contact CornerStone Family Services at 614-459-3003 to talk with a counselor or coach.

Having Difficult Conversations in Marriage

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Start conversatinos

“Start difficult conversations gently and kindly.” (The Gottman Institute)

There are going to be times in a marriage where conversations that are difficult will arise. The topic may be emotionally difficult. The situation may be difficult. An attitude being addressed may be difficult. A behavior may be difficult. An anticipated response may be difficult.

There may be one or many things that may result in difficulty in a conversation, but avoiding a conversation because it may be difficult (or has been difficult in the past) will not make the difficulty go away nor the issue go away. Avoidance of issues does not make the issues go away; rather the issues tend to fester and eat away at the health of a marriage relationship.

One tip in starting to address issues that may be difficult is to do so gently and kindly.  How we choose to conduct ourselves – especially from the onset of a conversation – can go a long way in helping difficult conversations move two people towards each other and a healthier marriage as an end result.


If you would like help in your marriage or relationship, please contact CornerStone Family Services at 614-459-3003 to set up an appointment with a counselor or coach.

5 Ways to Make It through a Difficult Season

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5 Ways to Make It through a Difficult Season

By Gavin Ortlund

Institutions, like the weather, have different seasons. There are springtime harvests, summer droughts, autumn wanings, and winter freezes. They have “a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh” (Eccl. 3:3–4). Sometimes God calls us to be part of an institution when it’s passing through a season of extraordinary difficulty, decline, or dysfunction. This could be a family with young kids trying to make ends meet with both parents working; or a church growing so rapidly that its infrastructure can’t keep up with its numbers, leaving everyone overworked and stretched thin; or a work environment in which a dysfunctional transition is causing anger, suspicion, and mistrust among employees; or a business rapidly downsizing because of the economy.

It’s difficult to overstate how hard it can be to stay positive when we’re put in a negative or stressful environment. In such an atmosphere, unhappiness and even distrust can tend to spread exponentially; they gain the force of momentum. As C. S. Lewis observed in The Horse and His Boy, “When things go wrong, you’ll find they usually go on getting worse for some time; but when things once start going right they often go on getting better and better.” It might seem like a simple statement, but I think it’s both true and profound. All other factors being equal, betterment tends to beget betterment; decline tends to produce decline.

What do we do when we’re in a negative season or environment? How do we keep from getting sucked into the stress and dysfunction? How do we stop the momentum of decline—in relationships, effectiveness, size, and so on? How do we retain the fruits of the Spirit when their opposites swirl all around us?

If the problem is severe, you probably need to extract yourself from the environment. But when God calls you to endure in difficult environments, here are five strategies I’ve learned to abide by.

1. Give everyone, including yourself, extra grace.

Paradoxically, grace is most difficult to extend to others during times it’s most needed. When everyone is pushed amid stressed, our normal patterns of overlooking an insult (Prov. 12:16) or forgiving from the heart (Matt. 18:35) are probably reduced without us even knowing it. Let’s say my normal capacity to absorb a negative remark without letting it bother me is, on a scale of 1 to 10, an 8. Push my stress level up, and it drops to a 5; add on fatigue, discouragement, and conflict, and it’s plummeted to a 2 or even a 1. We get so focused on the negativity around us we don’t notice what’s happening to our own spiritual and emotional state.

When in a negative environment, counteract this momentum by extending more grace than ordinarily would be necessary. I find it helps if I go into my day looking for specific, practical ways to extend grace. “Why not rather be wronged?” Paul asked (1 Cor. 4:7). If I enter the day expecting problems and seeing them as an opportunity to extend grace, they don’t throw me off when they come. “Lord, give me opportunities to extend grace today” is a good morning prayer.

Of course, this isn’t easy. Being gracious in ungracious settings can feel mildly like getting crucified. Doing so requires feasting our hearts on Jesus’s love. As a general rule, we have about as much grace to extend outward to others as we are drinking in from Christ ourselves. And we’re free to be vulnerable about our own shortcomings only to the degree we’re walking in the reality of our justification.

If you’re in a negative environment, take extra time to prepare your heart before walking into the war zone. Take a Sabbath rest. Disconnect from the negativity and engage with the Lord, and bring your stress level back down so that your forgiveness capacity goes back up to normal.

2. Make extra effort not to take things personally.

My tendency is to take things personally. If someone criticizes me, my instinctive reaction is often “What did I do that brought this criticism?” One thing I’ve learned, though, is that there’s often nothing we’ve done to bring about negative behavior. People around us often hurt in far deeper ways than we realize, and their negative behavior often flows from that suffering. Of course, it’s always true some criticism is warranted and other criticism isn’t—but in a stressful, negative season, the percentage of unwarranted, unhelpful criticism increases significantly. It’s helpful, then, to adjust our expectations. We must remind ourselves, There may be extra negativity floating around today. But it’s not about me. There’s a bigger picture here.

When we remember that, it liberates us from self-defense mode to look for the hurts/needs/problems underneath whatever criticism or negativity we’re expecting. That opens up doors for ministry to the person offering the criticism or expressing the negativity. Amazingly, I’ve discovered some of the ripest ministry opportunities arrive when we respond graciously to negativity.

3. Simplify your goals and productivity.

One of the most powerful mechanisms for fighting against the momentum of negativity is to focus on what you love about your job. Eliminate and concentrate wherever possible. A negative environment isn’t the time to take on new, amorphous projects outside your gifting; it’s time to refocus on the basics—your passion and what gets you out of bed in the morning. Set attainable goals. Define what success looks like in your circumstances, and aim for that goal. If you have subordinates working under you, cast your vision of what success looks like in your circumstances for them, and try to encourage them in it.

4. Take care to seek God’s perspective.

We often forget to consider what God is doing in a negative environment. It’s helpful to ask, “What does God think about this?” Focusing on his perspective bulwarks us against others’ misinterpretations and unhelpful analyses. While we always need to discern between what’s helpful and unhelpful in what others say, this is especially vital in a negative environment. People often want to find something to blame, so they say things that are just flat-out wrong, and perhaps make the situation worse.

Tune out what others say if it’s inconsistent with what God says. Discern the voice of the Holy Spirit by its effects and character; it comes with “upbuilding and encouragement and consolation” (1 Cor. 14:3). Even his confrontation won’t lead to condemnation but to conviction, and ultimately to peace and restoration. Get God’s perspective on your situation. Dig yourself into it, and don’t let any human perspectives replace it.

5. Ask God to make you an agent of good in the situation.

It may seem impossible to succeed in your environment. But seeing a situation as hopeless isn’t consistent with the character of the gospel. God has given us everything we need to fulfill Romans 12:21: “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” The problem is never ultimately with our circumstances, but with our responsiveness to the Lord in those circumstances. If we ask for God’s blessing, he will open special doors for us to do good to others amid our situation. In fact, the negativity may be precisely the opportunity we need to show the love of Christ to those around us: “God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work” (2 Cor. 9:8). 

And a final thought: remember that it won’t last forever. In God’s goodness, winter’s freezes eventually melt away, and the sun comes out again.


If you or someone you know is going through a difficult season and would like some help, please contact CornerStone Family Services at 614-459-3003 to talk with one of our coaches or counselors.