The Benefits of Accepting Your Emotions and Treating Yourself Like A Child

Recently I was a bit upset. I was feeling sad, anxious and angry about a challenging situation in my life.

I am not good with anger. My natural tendency is to fight it. I try to fix the feeling. My mind grinds over and over whatever seems to have triggered the anger. Part of me believes that if I can just figure out how to solve the problem then I won’t have this bad feeling.

How does that work for me? Not real well!

So I caught myself in my old pattern. Ruminating on the problem in a doomed attempt to get rid of the anger. And then I made a different choice. I decided to observe the feelings with curiosity. To notice exactly where I could feel the emotions in my body and what they felt like?

Then I realised the extent of my foolishness. The feeling was actually only one part anger, the other three parts were probably illness. I was sore across my shoulders, the glands in my neck were aching, I had a headache. I wasn’t so much angry as sick!

When toddlers get irritable we ask them:

  • Are you thirsty?
  • Are you hungry?
  • Do you need a rest?

And in Derbyshire, the response to a particularly crabby and inconsolable child is often, ‘She is probably sickening for something‘ (which means ‘She is probably suffering the prodromal symptoms of a viral illness‘).

So next time a difficult emotion comes up, don’t make my mistake. View the feelings with a bit more curiosity and see if you need to show yourself some kindness…or perhaps just have a little rest.

About Rachel Collis

Rachel gained 15 years experience as a psychiatrist before moving into management consulting in 2001. She now lectures on the Executive MBA program at QUT and provides leadership, executive and career coaching to senior and high potential leaders. To learn more, visit -
This entry was posted in Acceptance and Commitment Training (ACT), Stress and resilience and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to The Benefits of Accepting Your Emotions and Treating Yourself Like A Child

  1. Pingback: I’m Mad about Julia | The HeSo Project

  2. Pingback: What Can You Do When You Feel In Over Your Head? | Working with ACT

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