The 3 A’s – A Simple 3 Step Model to Deal With Your Difficult Feelings and Emotions

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pondering difficult feelings and emotionsDealing with difficult feelings and emotions is one of the hardest things to learn – because we still live in a society that largely believes we should ‘suck it up’ and get on with things. Feelings and emotions are often seen as weakness, so revealing ourselves to others can be hard.

Well, this simple technique will help you work through your feelings and emotions AND you can do it on your own.

The Big Idea: This exercise is not about trying to change anything, just being a compassionate, comforting presence for yourself that allows you to process and release your feelings and emotions – and move forwards. You can do this in your head or during meditation, but I recommend journalling or writing it down to get the full benefit.

Here are “The 3 A’s” – to Deal with Difficult Feelings and Emotions:

Choose somewhere comfortable and/or beautiful and quiet. Take a few deep breaths to get started and then (with or without your journal), simply follow the 3 steps below.

  1. AWARENESS: This is the “what”. Look at your feelings and emotions with a flashlight. Ask simple questions to get clear on WHAT you are feeling.
    • You could try asking, “What am I feeling right now?” and “What else?”
    • You can also go a little deeper and ask, “So, what is it like for me to feel like that?” (probably scary or threatening).
  2. ACKNOWLEDGE: This is about acknowledging what you’re feeling and  witnessing your pain so that the “afraid” part of you feels validated and supported.
    • Acknowledge to yourself, “That was really hard/painful/difficult!” or, “You poor thing, that was awful! No wonder you … “
    • Also, a great way to get out of thinking and into the experience is to ask, “Where in my body do I feel that?” and “What is that like?”
  3. ALLOW: The simplest, but hardest step. Feelings can be painful and are often irrational – so of course we try to avoid feeling them! But it’s the very avoidance of feeling (what we already feel!) that keeps us stuck. Working through our feelings is as simple as sitting with – and allowing them.
    • It takes a lot of courage to do this – but just sit with the experience for a moment. Notice what you feel and ALLOW it. You may cry or get upset and that’s OK (it’s part of the releasing).
      Note: It’s important that you stay WITH the process. Simply compassionately support and BE with yourself as you release your feelings and emotions.
    • You’ll need to use your gut-feelings to decide when to move on – maybe noticing a shift in your body or how you feel.
    • To wrap-up you can ask yourself “How was that experience? And How do I feel now?” Hopefully you’ll feel a little lighter and be able to take your next steps from a place of authenticity and strength – instead of fear and avoidance!
    • You can also ask, “Where might this have been blocking me in my life?” and “What can I learn from this experience?”

Watch out for: If this relates to a deep or abusive situation or if you’re feeling emotionally fragile or simply stuck, you may need to talk this through with a therapist or counsellor who is trained to help. You don’t have to do this alone – and sometimes it’s better if you don’t!

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