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How to Feel and Cope with Uncomfortable Feelings

By Ben Barer, LCSW-C

Each and every day, throughout the entire world, people go about their lives and feel all sorts of feelings – sometimes positive, sometimes negative.  Over the past few years, it might seem like negative or uncomfortable feelings are occurring much more often than before, in large part due to Covid-19 which turned people’s lives upside down. Not only did people have to navigate the expected uncomfortable feelings that come with everyday life, but they also now had to do it while adjusting to a new way of living.  

Some uncomfortable feelings come and go quickly while others might linger. Regardless, when these types of feelings come up, we often push them away or tell ourselves not to think about them too much. However, ignoring those feelings and refusing to deal with them is not a healthy way to cope with life.  

Here are some examples of difficult situations and how we can process our emotions in a healthy way: 

  1. We are afraid of what we might find if we “look deeper.” In a negative or uncomfortable situation, it is possible that we might have to look at our own personality and characteristics to evaluate what is working for us and what is not. Changing oneself is an extremely tough thing to do, which is maybe why we try to avoid it. To make it a little easier, we might try meditation or journaling to best center ourselves and articulate what we’re feeling deep down.  
  2. The uncomfortable feelings occur for a good reason. If we are hiking and we are close to the edge of a mountain, we might feel scared and cautious. That is our body’s way of telling us that we are in a dangerous situation and we should get to safety. In this moment, listening and acting on uncomfortable feelings is a benefit to ourselves.  
  3. A situation presents itself that we cannot ignore. Sometimes, we feel anxiety or pressure or know that anxiety and pressure are on the horizon, like with a job interview. In that situation, because it cannot be avoided, we should identify the reasons for the feelings and tell ourselves it’s ok to do what we need to do with them. If all else fails, we can acknowledge the feelings and “fight through the fear.”

At the end of the day, sometimes we experience uncomfortable feelings to the point where simple coping skills are not effective. That might be a suitable time to start looking into more structured approaches on how to process these emotions by seeking professional help, one-on-one or in a group setting. Whether we decide to embrace the uncomfortable feelings on our own or with a trained professional, the results can be truly life-changing!

Ben Barer, LCSW-C is a Clinical Therapist at Jewish Community Services.

Jewish Community Services (JCS) is dedicated to providing programs and services that help people of all ages and backgrounds achieve their goals and enhance their wellbeing.

To learn more, visit jcsbalt.org or call 410-466-9200.   

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