Wallowing In Vs. Supporting Emotions

May 10, 2023

Valid client question👇

Isn’t sitting with my emotions kind of like wallowing? Won’t I feel worse?

We have learned to distract ourselves from difficult emotions so that we don’t have to feel them. We make the mistake of assuming that feeling nothing is better than feeling sad or frustrated or angry….

But, what happens when we refuse to feel because we are afraid we will “wallow?”

We push the emotion down where it simmers. We go about our day…. but the feeling is still being carried about with us. And it will colour our mood, our reactions, and our interactions.

What happens when we take the time to sit with the emotion?

When we notice and name the emotion, and take time to sit with ourselves compassionately for a moment or two the emotion can pass through. Sometimes we can also help to work through the emotion by crying or talking or exercising or tapping or grounding.

During cancer treatments I learned to sit with emotions as they came up. I made it a practice, as a way to help deal with the anxiety I was experiencing. And I soon observed that a few minutes after an emotional check-in I would be engaged happily in something else.

This practice actually kept me from wallowing long term and I still use it today to process things that come up.

The Difference between Wallowing and Supporting our Emotions👇

I think that wallowing happens when we attach judgement to an emotion. This often looks like negative self-talk and can spiral out of control and take over our day, mood and overall outlook. For example: “Ugh, why do I feel so down? Life is pointless. Everything bad always happens to me. I’m a born loser.” Contrast this with “I feel sad right now. How do I feel in my body? My neck feels tight and my eyes are teary. What do I need to do to support myself in this moment?”

See if you can tune into yourself once or twice a day to notice, name and make space for an emotion. It is a little wellness hack that can make all the difference for your mental health and relationships!

A Guide for Tuning in (or An Antidote to “Meh”)👇

It is really easy to move through life on autopilot. People sometimes say “Meh” to describe this feeling.

Being stuck in Meh Land means you may benefit from some emotional fine-tuning.

You may have a vague sense of feeling happy or sad but, unless something major is happening, you may not take time to notice how you are feeling. Or, you vacillate between being numb and being in crisis mode.

Sometimes we have reactions to things and don’t even know why.

Have you ever snapped at someone about something small and wondered why you were so irritable? We may snap because we are tired, or stressed, or frustrated, or angry, or resentful, or guilty or any number of things. The list goes on and on!

Our behaviour in the moment may be an inappropriate release of emotions that are lurking, unnoticed, beneath the surface.

Everyone is talking about learning to regulate emotions right now, but how can you regulate what you aren’t even aware of?

When we are trying to become more emotionally mature and more in control of our behaviour and responses, it helps to make a daily practice of asking ourselves how we feel WITHOUT JUDGEMENT.

We can tune into our body throughout the day and support ourselves through any discomfort that comes up. We can also notice small moments of contentment or joy or gratitude. Deb Dana, the author of Polyvagal Exercises for Safety and Connection, calls these moments “glimmers.” Bringing our attention to these feelings can greatly improve our mental health and sense of happiness.

Start by pausing once in a while and asking:

  1. How do I feel right now? I can name how I feel right now without asking why.
  2. How do I feel in my body right now? I can feel whether muscles are tense, whether I am tired, whether my tummy hurts or my heart is racing, or I can notice that my muscles feel relaxed, or my chest feels light and open, or I am having tingles of anticipation in my stomach, or…..
  3. How can I support myself through this feeling? I can give myself permission to notice the feeling, use strategies such as grounding and mindfulness practices to make space for the emotion and allow it to flow through, or I can enjoy the pleasant sensation that I am tapping into.

Learning how to notice, name, and make space for emotions will bring balance to our daily life. It will help you migrate from Meh Land to the Kingdom of Authenticity.

Emotional check-ins to learn how to support oneself emotionally are often one of the first steps in the important work of healing and growth.


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Hello, I'm Janine

It’s nice to meet you! I write about the calms and storms we endure during this human experience.

I am a counselling therapist in private practice and a cancer survivor. Helping and connecting with others is a passion of mine, and I’ve found that blogging is the perfect avenue.

I’m so glad you popped by for a visit today.

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