Accepting, Feeling, and Releasing Painful Emotions

Woman with Tear

“Eventually you will come to realize that love heals everything, and love is all there is.” ~Gary Zukav

Last year I developed some unexplained symptoms that could be likened to IBS, Chron’s disease, or even morning sickness (although I wasn’t pregnant, so there was no promise of a baby to make it all worth it).

I had no idea what caused it, why it was there, or what to do about it.

This shook me because I’d always had a strong intuitive connection with my body and I had always been healthy, but now when I asked my body a question, there was just silence.

It was as if a thick fog had parked right between my inner wisdom and me, blocking my channel of intuitive guidance about what to eat, what to avoid, and what was really going on underneath it all. It was so quiet—there weren’t even any crickets!

With my intuition evading me, I was stuck in the surface level “real” world to manage it. I was dealing with debilitating symptoms every day that were, bit by bit, wearing down my strength and self-control, until one day I crumbled in a heap.

I had decided to practice what I preach and do something nourishing, despite how terrible I felt. So I got my yoga mat with the intention of pushing through my discomfort to do something that would probably make me feel better. As soon as I felt that mat underneath my feet, I felt safe, I felt nurtured, I felt held.

I had entered a place where I could go deep and be real. I wasn’t expecting my yoga mat to hold me like the compassionate embrace of a lifelong friend, but that’s exactly what it did, and I surrendered to it.

Once the flow of tears began, there was no way I could stop it. The pain of the everyday struggle, the expectations I had of myself as a mother, the disappointment I felt from not being capable of living my life to the fullest, and the resentment I had toward “everyone else,” who could eat what they wanted without suffering the way that I was… it all came out.

And underneath it was frustration, then anger, then self-hatred, then rage, then emptiness, silence, and peace.

I didn’t have any revelations as to what this was all about or how to fix it, but I simply allowed myself to release everything that had been building up inside of me. And just when I thought the tears were done, more would flow. I screamed, I pounded the mat, and I breathed deeply until only peace remained.

Here’s what I took away from that experience.

1. Trust is essential.

Because my intuition went quiet, I stopped trusting myself. I had forgotten that my body was communicating with me in the only way that it could. I didn’t think to look for the lesson or meaning in it all.

Once I had released all my tears and pain, my sense of self-trust returned and I was able to bring myself back to a space of gratitude and openness.

Trusting that there is something to gain from your experience will help you to remain open to it rather than feeling bad about it.

2. It’s okay to cry.

Crying is not a sign of weakness but rather a sign of strength, self-respect, and love.

You need to honor your urges to cry. Not only does it clear and release anything that you’ve been holding in, crying also connects you with the present and allows you to be your most authentic self, even if you’re alone like I was.

3. Self-compassion is a game-changer.

Once I let out all of the self-hatred that I had been holding onto, I made space for self-compassion.

I spoke lovingly to myself, I acknowledged the challenges that I had been facing, and I offered myself the nurturing and love that I had previously been searching for outside of myself.

Being your own friend is a powerful skill that can keep you strong and grounded in the face of adversity.

4. There’s no need to fear what’s inside of you.

It might seem dark and terrifying when you look at what you’re hiding inside of you, but there is not a single part of you that won’t benefit from being loved, accepted, and respected.

Shed some light onto the darkness; give each part of you a voice to express its needs, its pain, and its story. Once you realize that your inner demons cannot hurt you, you take away the power they once held over you and can start loving yourself unconditionally.

5. We all need a sacred space to be vulnerable.

We all need a space where we can explore, accept, heal, and (learn to) love ourselves.

For me it was the yoga mat, but for you it may be your meditation cushion, your local park or beach, or even in your bed.

Find or create a loving and unconditional space where you can be raw, honest, and vulnerable. Visit it whenever you get a sense that something within is ready to shift and release.

Surrender into the strong support of your sacred space, and remember that it’s safe to let your feelings flow. It may even be the best thing for you.

Crying woman image via Shutterstock

About Naomi Goodlet

Naomi Goodlet is a bestselling author, mindfulness crusader, spiritual rebel, acceptance & commitment therapy ACT-ivist, anxiety hacker and blogger at

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  • Hi Naomi
    Thank you for sharing your story and insights. I agreed with all of your tips and the two that stuck out to me personally were self-compassion and it being okay to cry. The first can make all the difference in every aspect of our life, and particularly when we are going through a hard time. We really beat ourselves up so much and this just intensifies everything and thickens all the resistance we may have to what we are feeling. And letting ourselves cry is is so cathartic but we often shy away because the very act means allowing what is bothering us to come up, and to actively think about it. It makes us feel weak, but it is anything but. Those emotional releases ultimately make us stronger.

  • gsfraser

    Re: #4.

    Yes there is, you just didn’t look deep enough. If you’ve convinced yourself that the “authentic you” is all love, god(ess)hood, and romantic music you have missed the truth entirely. These things are illusions; the camouflage we hide behind to convince ourselves we are something other than what you are.

    Wanna embrace something? Be the animal you are; quit pretending you’re out for anything other than self-interest.

  • Naomi Goodlet

    Thanks for reading Kelli. I completely agree that allowing your true feelings to exist and come out makes you stronger! x

  • sumana


  • Jennifer

    I read this article and it was so similar to what I am going through. Last year, I became sick with some weird IBS/IBD/morning sickness without being pregnant thing. I went through a bunch of tests and found… nothing. I have been so angry with myself for letting myself down, for not being able to eat like a normal person. Thank you for sharing your story, it really helped me.

  • JMM

    Nice article I will be sharing

  • Harvey

    Thank you for the article. Regarding #5, I find it easiest when I’m writing in my notebook.

  • Naomi Goodlet

    Thanks Harvey. Yes, the notebook! I forgot to mention that sacred space. I love mine too 🙂

  • Naomi Goodlet

    Thanks! Much appreciated 🙂

  • Naomi Goodlet

    You’re so welcome. Thanks for reading.

  • Naomi Goodlet

    I’m so sorry to hear of your suffering Jennifer! How frustrating that the tests didn’t give you any answers, my situation was the same. Please don’t be angry with yourself! You have not let yourself down AT ALL. Your only job is to get yourself to a mental (and energetic) place where you can easily allow your body to heal. Start with self-love! xxxx

  • Naomi Goodlet

    By the way – I’m almost fully recovered now!

  • gsfraser

    Really? Had nothing such to say when I voiced what I feel, below.

  • JesterDev

    This is just what I needed to read. I have never been my own friend before, perhaps issues with self worth, I don’t know. But I needed this today, thank you for that. I’ve been dong allot of soul searching lately, and well this opened things up more.

  • neethu nath

    A very helpful article. Really it gives hope.

  • Brandy Mundy

    I’ve been crying for so long. I’ve been hurting for so long that I’m tired of the tears. I feel like the majority of my life has been filled with tears fears, frustration, confusion, disappointment and just pain. I tried religion. I tried pampering myself and I’ve even tried encouraging myself, but to no avail the tears still fall. I feel as though I need comfort. I need a hug, I need to hear the words it will be ok, you are not a bad mother, you are not a bad person and well the only person around is myself. While I do that myself, it still hasn’t taken away the pain. I still suffer. I’m not suicidal, so I have no intention of killing myself, I just am learning to allow the pain out. Some days are better than others. I have days where I can go for hours and feel good but then it settles in. I think I am determined to figure out what this self love is all about, even if I have to unearth every single detail about my past. I write in my journal alot.