Sitting with the Yuck


This past weekend I attend the first session of a two-day class with my friend and colleague Annie Fisher on Inner Relationship Focusing. It reminds me of Dialectical Behavioral Therapy in ways. There is a lot of just being with “it” – whatever “it” might be to you. For those of us with anxiety, that can be torturous! You want me to sit and pay attention to my hurt? my worry? my pain?! – You’ve got to be out of your mind! Just like a crying child that needs attention, so do these different parts of ourselves. When we don’t listen to these parts of ourselves and it is too uncomfortable to sit with the yuck, what happens? I have found that’s when (what focusing calls) the protector comes out. The protector says, no, we will not listen to the pain. Let’s eat! Let’s rearrange the living room! Let’s have a few (or more) drinks!

What would it be like to just sit and allow yourself to be sad? In DBT we call this “ride the wave”. Emotions are like waves in the ocean – they build, crest, then yield. When we try to fight the waves in the ocean, what might happen? We get knocked down, pulled under, and defeated. Let yourself be with the emotion instead of distracting yourself or fighting it. See if you can just sit and listen to what it has to say. Maybe you are meant to learn something from it. Sit with the discomfort, say ‘hello’ to that part of yourself that really wants to be heard.

Journal prompt: Try to sit with mindful attention for five full minutes. Record your experience when you are done.

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