Leaning Into Discomfort with Acceptance

The skill of acceptance is NOT intuitive. That’s because acceptance is asking us to do exactly the opposite of what our minds and bodies are programmed to do, when stressed or distressed! This practice will help you start using Willingness skills to lean into your discomfort and then practice letting go: leaning in and letting go. Are you willing?


  1. Tanja Milčić

    Hello dr. Fielding,

    I’ve been having problems with actually feeling emotions, it seems that I have been supressing them for some time and now all I am left with is a constant (sometimes stronger, sometimes milder) sense of anxiety, and nothing else.
    How can I open myself fully to the emotions and actually experience them?

    BTW, excellent work, since I started reading and listening to you, you’ve offered some interesting insights. 🙂

    Thank you for your answer,

    • Lara Fielding

      Hi Tanya! Thank you for commenting (so sorry for the delayed response!) This is such a great question. Sounds like you have been over regulating. I recommend you add skill 1: (Chapter 3) Taking Emotional Role Call to your regular practice. Your goal is to start opening up a place where you can safely feel your feelings, without engaging in the impulse to distract or minimize. In Chapter 8 you’ll lean about other to induce emotions, such as listening to music or watching movies that bring up a particular emotion. It may take some time. But keep at it. The more you practice inducing the emotion, while lovingly attending to how it feels, the thoughts that come up, and the bodily sensation – the more integrated your emotions will become. And I’d love to hear back how it goes! So proud of you for taking on this challenging work! Warmly, Lara

    • Muxxx

      Hello Dr
      Even After listening to the radio twice I was unable to lean in to my emotions and accept them, just the thought of welcoming them in made me scared and angry all over again. What can I do to change This?

    • Lara Fielding

      Hi Tanja, I’m so glad you checked in here with your difficulty! Your experience is completely natural and normal. Your body is protecting itself. I’m really proud of you for trying, twice! So let’s try this: Ask yourself what beliefs you have about feeling those difficult emotions. Do thoughts such as ‘not fair!” “I shouldn’t have to feel this way” come up with anger? Or “the early experience should not have happened to me?” Or do you have worry thoughts? Such as “what if I can’t stop the emotion?” or “it might cause something bad to happen”. If you can notice the thoughts related to the emotions, you might be able to get a little closer, for a little longer. See if you can gently encourage yourself to stay with it, just a bit longer each time. Like so many things, with practice, it gets easier.
      Please let me know how it goes? As you proceed through the book, there will be some other helpful tips to support this deep work.
      Also, psst, we haven’t announced it yet, but we’re launching a Facebook Live Book Club on the 15th of Sept. So, if you’d like to join, just head over to https://www.facebook.com/groups/MASTERINGADULTHOOD/ and request to join! I hope to see you there!
      I hope this helps a bit for now. Thanks again for checking in! Lara

    • Samuel

      I’ll be honest. I have loved the book so far, but this one felt rough. Calling to mind a stressful situation, and then leaning in–increasing the emotion–it was not fun. Like I was almost going to cry. Is this a good start? I think maybe I don’t always fight my anxieties and am used to dwelling with them and indulging them. Is there a way to accept them as being there without this “leaning in” part?

    • Lara Fielding

      Hi Samuel, thank you for this excellent question. And great job practicing! Indeed, leaning into our difficult emotions is not fun. Leaning in as a way of practicing letting go of the struggle. It’s OK to cry when practicing. That is just the body‘s way of releasing the pent-up tension of trying to hold back for over engage. Overtime, when you stick with this practice you will likely find that the waves come easier and pass faster. It is like watching a rerun movie. The first few times it scares you, or makes you cry, but after you’ve seen it a few times and really just sit there and watch it, it doesn’t have the same impact. You have stepped back into Observer mode. Does that make sense? I hope you will keep up the great work! And please feel free to send me questions anytime. Warmly, Lara

  2. Anonymous

    Hi Laura,
    I believe that I am an overregulator. I find it hard to understand my emotion. It has cause me to not do well socially and be disconnected with the world around me. I’m afraid to feel my emotions because every time I feel my emotions I do something that I regret. I recognize that overregulating has caused me to be unmotivated and to feel apathy. It has caused me to feel lost because I don’t know what I want to do or my purpose in life. My first job out of college was working as a litigation paralegal at a big law firm but I didn’t like the job but I was too stubborn to quit so I was let go. And I realized that I didn’t choose that job because it would be the right fit but I chose it for the prestige. Now I’m reading about emotional intelligence and adulting to learn how to understand my emotions and myself and feel motivated and connect with others better. I’m applying to jobs that I think would be a greater fit. I have an emotional habit of being a castle and focusing on myself. It worked just fine in school but it was very difficult in a job. I realized that my inability to connect with others caused communication issues which caused me to be taken out of teams. Learning social skills and new emotional habits will take months if not years but I’m making an effort. In my past job, it was hard for me to feel love and care for what I was doing. It’s kinda hard for me to care about others because I’m so used to caring about myself. But this has cause trouble with making connections and long lasting friendships. How do I learn to care about others?

    • Lara Fielding

      Dearest Anonymous, Thank you so much for this heartfelt and open self disclosure. You are already on your way. And I could not be more proud of you! It sounds like your self awareness is very good! In answer to your questions, “How do I learn to care about others?” That is going to be an ongoing practice. So, it’s not likely to feel natural at first. Start with your True North Values (Chapter 6) to identify why others are important to you. Then reverse engineer the behaviors (chapter 7) that will represent the value. For example, if others are important to you because you want to feel cared for, identify some actions you can take to spend time with more caring people. And also, (Chapter 11) identify how you can both give and take caring from others. …. Our interpersonal relationships can be super hard when we over regulate, because we connect with our emotions. Keep working on your Chapter 8 skills to get more connected with your own emotions. Then your ability to use them to connect with others will improve! Hope you find this helpful. Warmly, Lara

  3. Anon

    Thank you, Lara,
    That allowed me to,access the sadness that was underneath some self righteousness about a recent incident..and then I imagined the song ” Please don’t let me be Misunderstood ” being sung..Sweet!

    • Lara Fielding

      Hi Again Anon. That is so fantastic to hear! Thank you again! Lara

  4. Luisa Clark

    Hi Laura! With this exercise I realised I react with anger to some kind of actions just because I am tired of them.. it’s repeated actions that I’ve faced my entire life, I know it’s not my fault people blame others for some mistakes, but it gets me so tired of it that I overreact and start arguing and explaining myself and attacking them for attacking me in the first place

    • Lara Fielding

      Hi Luisa, Oh my gosh, I can so relate! Most of us can I think. It’s the defensiveness thing. One person points out something that needs to change… the other person interprets that statement as either critical or blaming. . . this leads to them defending themselves and/or pointing out what the other person is doing wrong. Am I close? These exchanges can be not only exhausting (as you note) but also keep us stuck. Because we react in ways that don’t represent our values, and now WE feel guilt or shame or other difficult emotions.

      So here’s what I’d like you to try. When you get to chapter 5, get out a Dashboard form (which the publisher has available on their website). As best you can parse out what specific behaviors/actions the other person is doing that trigger the angry emotions. Make sure you describe the actions as actual actions. Is it a tone? Is it a particular thing they say? Body language? The goal is to parse out your thoughts/interpretations of the actions from the actual actions. I’d love to hear what you come up with!

      Also, (whisper) I’ll share a little secret with you. We’re planning a closed group book club for back to school, where we’ll be going through all of the chapters and trouble shooting. You can sign up now for the book club here.https://www.facebook.com/groups/MASTERINGADULTHOOD/ We’ll be making announcements soon about the launch! Hope to see you there!

      Please do keep me updated on your progress through the book!

      Warmly, Lara

  5. A

    I’m not sure how well this worked, as leaning into the emotions did not really make me feel better. But it did make me more aware about the judgments I impose on my emotions. For this exercise, I thought about how I’ve been avoiding my new roommates out of social anxiety and fear, and it made me realize that I also judge myself for this and worry that me avoiding them makes them think that I’m weird or cold or don’t want to talk to them. I tried allowing myself to feel afraid and socially anxious. Again, I’m not sure that it helped but I think this will take a lot of practice.

    • Dr. Lara

      Hi again dear Aish. I’m proud of you for sticking with it!It sounds like you already recognize that it takes practice to stay with the anxiety, with acceptance. Judgment thoughts are the rocket fuel for our emotions. So, while this exercise is to build your ability to sit with and remain open to the discomfort, you could add some skills from Chapter 9, to work on the judgment thoughts, as well as the mind reading that they think you are weird. I look forward to hear more about your progress!

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