In the land of preschoolers, there is a song called “Bear Hunt”. And in this song you find the courage to go looking for a bear! Exciting! I know right??! Especially when you are 4 years old and repetition is life. The reason why I bring it up here is that there is a line in this song that I feel relates to therapy and working though your emotions.
Here’s how the song goes:
We’re going on a bear hunt ( We’re going on a bear hunt)
We’re going to catch a big one (we’re going to catch a big one)I
I’m not scared ( I’m not scared)
What a beautiful day ( What a beautiful day)
A deep cold river!
We can’t go over it!
We can’t go under it!
We’ve got to go through it!
Splash splosh! Splash splosh! Splash splosh!
It sure would be nice to rise above our emotions or escape them (believe me I’ve tried), but what if the key is to accept them as they are and find a way to help yourself cope with the feeling that is at play?
We all have tons of experience doing this with emotions we like- the pleasant ones. Usually when we notice that we are feeling loved, ecstatic, motivated, or content acceptance of these feelings is really a no brainer. We are practicing acceptance and coping with pleasant emotions without even realizing we are doing this work.
However, the idea of accepting a feeling that we do not like sounds like foreign territory. Why would I want to recognize that I feel lonely or inadequate or depressed? It seems that as difficult as it may seem, working through the emotion and accepting it as it is could be hugely beneficial. The way our emotions work is that the more ignored they feel, the stronger they become. Quite adversely, the more we validate and acknowledge our feelings the smaller and more manageable they become.
In this work, there is an important difference in accepting your feelings, without needing to agree with them. Our emotions don’t follow rationality and they don’t have to define the way we see ourselves. Accepting them is allowing them to come and go without putting up a fight each time.
So, do yourself a favor and start your new year with accepting you for the way you are and help yourself cope with the tough stuff.
Thanks for reading,
Katherine Ewing, LCSW