Imagine going about your day, feeling fine, when suddenly you’re hit with overwhelming anxiety or even panic. Your body tenses up, your palms get sweaty, and your chest feels tight with each shallow breath. In that moment of emotional turmoil, it’s like your rational mind shuts off, leaving you feeling utterly helpless as your subconscious triggers a survival response. But what if you could break free from that emotional trigger and regain control by reconnecting with your body and conscious awareness? That’s where Emotionally Focused Therapy comes in.

In my therapy practice, I frequently work with individuals struggling with anxiety, and today, I’ll share some of the techniques we use to successfully navigate these emotions. One of the first steps is understanding anxiety itself, so let’s start with the word “emotion.” Notice how it begins with the letter “E”? I like to think of it as “Energy in Motion.”

Life experiences generate this movement of energy, which we perceive as emotions. For an experience to occur, there must be movement, or energy flow, and our bodies are finely tuned to sense this energy as feeling sensations. When something happens, we feel the energy coursing through us via our senses, and our minds assign meaning to it.

However, if we struggle to cope with the discomfort of these emotional sensations, our minds may try to disconnect us from the experience—a phenomenon known as dissociation. This subconscious coping mechanism, rooted in our survival instincts, aims to shield us from perceived threats. Over time, this habit of disconnecting from uncomfortable feelings can lead to a buildup of unresolved emotions, culminating in intense anxiety and panic attacks, which are designed to tell us through the feeling that there is danger we need to get away from. This is why when we feel anxiety while doing something, we usually always have a strong urge to get out of there away from that experience. This really limits our lives and allows fears to control our actions.

Instead of rejecting these uncomfortable feelings, we must learn to embrace them—to allow ourselves to experience and process them fully. This involves cultivating awareness and acceptance of our emotions, which can be achieved through regular practice.

Simple Awareness Practices to Process Emotions

Take 5 or 10 minutes each day to focus on the sensations of your breath. Close your eyes and turn your attention inward, feeling the rhythm of your inhales and exhales. Then, gradually expand your awareness to include sensations throughout your body, starting from the top of your head and moving downward. Simply observe the feelings without judgment.

With consistent practice, you’ll develop the skill of being present with your emotions. Emotions fluctuate from day to day, so dedicating time to this practice allows you to experience a wide range of feelings, gradually building your capacity to sit with feeling sensations of discomfort. Eventually, you’ll find yourself better equipped to navigate moments of anxiety and process the accompanying emotions.

By learning to be present with our emotions, we reclaim control over our lives. Anxiety no longer dictates our actions; instead, we can breathe through the discomfort and emerge stronger on the other side.

Give these practices a try and share your experience with me!

Have a wonderful day, 

Arne Pedersen, 

Mindfulness-based Hypnotherapist, Victoria, B.C.

Video & In-Person Sessions

“I am really looking forward to meeting with you!” – Arne

Arne Pedersen Awareness In Health • Online and In-Person Therapy specializing in support for Anxiety, Self Esteem, Confidence, Negative Thoughts, Stress Related Issues, and Spirituality