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How to Use Loving Kindness to Change Your Relationship to Emotional Pain

3 Steps to Reorient Yourself to Painful Feelings Photo by Darius Bashar on Unsplash Loving Kindness meditation invites you to expand your ability to have compassion for yourself and others. It opens the doorway to the possibility of being mindfully calm, clear, and loving in an otherwise chaotic world — and it is an especially […]

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3 Steps to Reorient Yourself to Painful Feelings

Photo by Darius Bashar on Unsplash

Loving Kindness meditation invites you to expand your ability to have compassion for yourself and others. It opens the doorway to the possibility of being mindfully calm, clear, and loving in an otherwise chaotic world — and it is an especially effective way to reorient yourself to painful emotions. By mindfully taking time to love and accept ourselves — including all our emotions — we give ourselves some breathing room.

The practice of Loving Kindness is quite simple; it involves mantras that you repeat silently to yourself. You can do this while sitting in quiet meditation, but you can also do it while in traffic, standing in line at the grocery store, taking a walk outside, or anytime, anywhere that you find it useful.

The next time you are struggling with emotional pain, try these three steps to bring yourself some comfort.

  1. Acknowledge how you are feeling: So often, we try to push aside or squash down painful feelings so they don’t overwhelm us. Instead, use soothing touch by placing your hands on your body where you find it comforting, such as on your cheek, over your heart, or on your shoulders with arms wrapped in a hug. Then give yourself some words of comfort. I might say to myself, “Oh Julie, sweetheart, I know this is really hard right now.”
  2. Practice Loving Kindness: By focusing your attention on a word or phrase, you can change your relationship to the pain so that it feels more possible to bear. Loving Kindness phrases are great for this. You can tell yourself what you most need to hear right now. For example:

You are doing all you can in this time of suffering. 

You are not alone. 

You are loved and appreciated. 

You are smart and strong and have courage to spare. 

Nothing is permanent. These raw, painful feelings will eventually change to something less harsh.

One day, you will find the silver lining in this mess.

You can also say “I” instead of “you” when addressing yourself if that feels more comforting.

3. Keep returning your focus to what lifts you up: I say Loving Kindness phrases to myself all the time. Whenever I feel an emotion coming up that feels bad, my hand automatically goes to my heart, and I wish myself gorgeous things like safety, peace, ease, love, and happiness. Even when I’m not upset, I wish these things for myself. Keep returning to what lifts you up. Slowly but surely, you will transform your relationship to emotional pain and begin to heal.

On a shelf in my closet, I keep a wooden figure of a woman made by artist Kelly Rae Roberts. The figure stands about 16 inches tall, and has angel wings on her back and a quote on her flat body. Every day, I read the quote out loud first thing in the morning when I am getting dressed:

“Dear You, may you give yourself permission to trust your voice, step into your power, and know that what you’re doing matters.”

Find words or phrases that comfort you, and say them to yourself. Put them in your sightline, where you can see them and absorb them often. Give yourself the Loving Kindness you need to step into life’s next moments with more calm and ease of mind and spirit.

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