Make friends with your difficult feelings.

Pema Chödrön teaches us a loving, conscious way of dealing with pain and tension. In her bookTaking the leap: Freeing Ourselves from Old Habits and Fears‘, this method is extensively described.

“Stop for a moment and open your heart ‘, she says. ‘ Go to find compassion and courage to continue, it will have a liberating effect ‘. The warm, bright and encouraging tone of Chödrön is catching. Its simplicity helps you to try this alternative.


Step 1:

Recognize and recognize that you are triggered by a difficult feeling. Recognize that you want to numb this feeling and that you are willing to fight, flight or fright (freeze). Read more about this in part 1.

Step 2:

Interrupt yourself, sit quietly and make contact with the energy or the pure feeling in your body. For example, you can lay a hand on the spot of your body where you experience the feeling the strongest. Stay with it, relax in it, keep breathing in it, live the feeling. Accept the initially restless, burning or nagging energy, accept the feelings, friendly and in contact. Do this for a few minutes.

Step 3:

Continue with a positive activity or what you were doing. By keeping it so short you keep it light. Repeat this exercise a few times a day. You can also intensify the feelings on purpose. In this way you learn to become friends with your own emotional life. You will become the boss and discover that these colors and qualities are yours. Surprising qualities that you would never want to miss, which are full of life.

Anger turns out to be your strength, shame is your loving tenderness and your doubt transforms to wisdom. Your difficult feelings turn out to be treasure rooms. Let yourself be surprised!

Pema Chödrön is an American Buddhist nun of nearly 80 years. She was student of Chögyam Trunpa and Sakyong Mipham. She still gives lesson, amongst others, at the Gampo Abbey in Nova Scotia in Canada.