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Sitting with It: The Art of Embracing and Processing Emotions

In today's fast-paced world, we are often encouraged to push through our emotions quickly, to put on a brave face, and to move forward without dwelling on what we feel. However, there is great value in taking the time to sit with our emotions, to acknowledge them, and to process them in a healthy and constructive way. "Sitting with it" is an art that allows us to embrace the full spectrum of our human experience, fostering personal growth, emotional intelligence, and overall well-being.

"Healing happens by feeling."

What Does "Sitting with It" Mean?

"Sitting with it" is a phrase that suggests allowing ourselves the time and space to fully experience our wide range of emotions without judgment or avoidance. It's about being present with what we feel, even if those emotions are uncomfortable or painful. Instead of suppressing or escaping from our feelings, we consciously choose to face them head-on.

Imagine a moment when you're feeling overwhelmed, anxious, or sad. The instinctive reaction might be to distract yourself with various activities, ignore the emotions, or even suppress them entirely. However, "sitting with it" means resisting these urges and, instead, finding a quiet and safe space to acknowledge and understand what you're going through.

The Benefits of "Sitting with It"

  1. Emotional awareness: When we allow ourselves to sit with our emotions, we develop a heightened awareness of what triggers specific feelings and how they manifest within us. This self-awareness enables us to identify patterns and better understand our emotional responses.

  2. Emotional intelligence: By facing our emotions directly, we become more adept at managing them constructively. We learn that emotions are a natural part of life and that they provide valuable information about our inner state and our needs.

  3. Healing and processing: Emotions need an outlet, and sitting with them provides the opportunity for healthy processing. Bottling up emotions can lead to emotional and physical distress, but allowing ourselves to experience and express them can be liberating, therapeutic and healing.

  4. Resilience and coping: The ability to sit with difficult emotions strengthens our emotional resilience. Instead of being overwhelmed, we develop coping mechanisms to navigate challenging situations more effectively.

  5. Self-compassion: Sitting with and feeling your feelings, even when difficult or uncomfortable, encourages self-compassion. We learn to treat ourselves with kindness, patience, support, empathy and understanding - the same way we would treat a friend or loved one going through a difficult time. We are human and allowed to experience a range of emotions without fear or judgment.

How to Practice "Sitting with It"

  1. Create space: Find a comfortable space where you feel safe to process your thoughts and feelings. This could be a quiet and cosy corner of your home, somewhere peaceful in nature, or any space that allows you to feel safe and relaxed.

  2. Identify emotions: Name the emotions you are experiencing. Acknowledge their presence without trying to change or judge them. Allow yourself to feel them fully.

  3. Stay present: Avoid getting too caught up in the past or future. Try to focus on the present and the emotions you are experiencing right now in this moment.

  4. Breathe and feel: Take slow, deep breaths to ground yourself in the present moment. Pay attention to how your emotions feel physically in your body. Are they tightness in your chest, a knot in your stomach, a weight in your shoulders, or a lump in your throat?

  5. Practice non-judgment: Let go of any self-criticism or negative judgments about your emotions. Remind yourself that it's okay to feel the way you do. There are no "bad" or "wrong" feelings. It is okay to feel however you feel in this moment.

  6. Express yourself: If you feel the need, express your emotions through writing, art, physical activity, or another outlet. Expressing emotions can be a healthy way of processing them.

  7. Seek support: Big feelings, especially the difficult ones, can be hard to process alone, and sitting with them can be scary and uncomfortable. Know when to turn to a friend, family member or loved one for support, and if you find you are struggling to cope or need some help to navigate things, it can be helpful to speak to a professional, like a counsellor.

  8. "This too, shall pass": Remember, feelings are temporary. When you find yourself getting overwhelmed, try repeating a mantra like "this too, shall pass" to remind you the power of impermanence and that what you are currently going through is temporary.

"Sitting with it" is an essential skill that allows us to navigate the complex landscape of emotions with grace and understanding. Embracing our feelings rather than avoiding them empowers us to grow, learn, and cultivate emotional resilience. As we practice this, we discover that our emotions are not obstacles, but instead valuable signposts on our journey of self-discovery and self-compassion.

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