Finding Positive Ways to Express Difficult Emotions

“Never apologize for showing feelings. When you do so, you apologize for the truth.” ~Benjamin Disraeli

Each day, month, or year I want to be something different when I grow up. At some point I want to open up a smoothie truck with a best friend, I want to teach yoga to cancer patients, and I want to travel to Australia and become a bartender just to support myself.

But more so than what I want (or think I want) to be, I know what I am. I am a wife, a sister, a friend, an Egyptian, a listener, a weirdo, a poet, a marketer, a dog mom, and a wannabe yogi.

But most of all? I am emotional.

I am so emotional at times that my husband comes home to an inconsolable wife sitting alone on the couch crying. And what has set me off into this uncontrollable fit, you may ask? Some kid in a commercial misses his dad who is on a business trip, and (thanks to Skype services) he gets his bedtime story from 3,000 miles away. Sad? Yes, I know.

Sad, but common. I have emotional friends. I also have completely apathetic friends. I love them. They are completely real with me when I get out of hand and help bring me back to earth.

Something I just can’t help but get emotional over is death.

It’s funny because I don’t have a problem with my own death. I could talk about that for days—how it’s going to happen, when I think it will happen, anything, until my husband tells me he doesn’t want to hear about it anymore and leaves the room.

My grandparents along with many members of my family live in Egypt. I went to Egypt every other summer since I was born. I looked forward to seeing my cousins, the beaches, my aunts—everyone, but specifically my grandfather. I am my grandfather’s favorite grandchild (his words, not mine).

When I was a little girl, I followed him everywhere and mimicked everything he did. He had his own nickname for me, and anything he said, I believed.

For example, he had four toes on one of his feet and told me it was a shark attack. I believed it and told everyone I knew. Turns out, the real story wasn’t half as cool as that.

Fast forward a decade later to this past September. I married my best friend and had the absolute happiest day of my life. I married into the most gracious, giving family a woman could ask for.

I wanted nothing more than my grandfather to meet my soon-to-be husband and my new family-in-law who embraced me as one of their own. My grandfather died three weeks before my wedding.

He had been sick and weak but this came as a shock to me. I consider myself a pretty strong woman, and yet I shut down. My sweet husband dropped everything to be with me, but for some reason I had the hardest time controlling my emotions.

And there it was again, that something that I know I am—emotional.

I never got to say goodbye, I regret not visiting more, and he would never meet my husband. Those things killed me.

Now, almost a year since he passed, I’m not entirely over that loss; and my grandmother is sick and not doing well, herself.*

It’s a reminder to truly appreciate life. It’s funny how it sometimes takes a death to realize how beautiful life really is and to help you actually start living it.

Of course that doesn’t make it any easier to lose people we love, but we have a choice to honor them. Remember the memories you’ve had with them, learn from them, speak them, breathe them, incorporate them in your everyday life, and they are there. Simple, huh?

As I recently cried while sharing my feelings with my father, I thought many things. I’m getting older now; people in my life will pass. My grandparents lived such amazing, full lives and spent some of the best years of my childhood with me.

I am lucky. What’s helped me is choosing to think about my emotions, express them, and then move on from them to think about the positive.

So, what words of wisdom can I give to those who feel overcome with the same sadness and uncontrollable emotions like I do?

Live them, acknowledge them, give them some time to breathe in your life, and then move on from them. Express your sadness, happiness, anxiety, and fears through other outlets.

I write. Words speak volumes, much louder than any emotion in my head. I transfer my emotions on to paper and feel better. For me, this has helped.

Never, ever mistake emotions for weakness. Take it one day at a time and whether it’s through writing, singing, dancing, laughing, knitting, journaling, reading, practicing yoga, or otherwise, find a way to send your emotions out into the world as positive energy.

Who knows, there might be someone standing nearby hearing you laugh, sitting at home reading your article, or lying next door, desperately trying to turn their mind off as you lull them to sleep with your singing.

Those people could really use that positive energy. We all could.

*Note: I wrote this piece on March 5th and on March 9th, my grandmother passed away. She is the reason why I am submitting this today. In a little way, I think she pushed me to write this in the first place knowing I would need that emotional release yet again. And today, I feel released and relieved. May she rest in peace and find comfort in the stillness.

Photo by h. koppdelaney

About Dina Weldin

Dina lives in San Diego with her husband and dog daughter, Mar. She is a marketer by day and a writer and yogi at heart. She will soon begin her yoga teacher training to start spreading her love for yoga with the world.

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  • “Never ever mistake emotions for weakness.” So cool. Thank you 🙂 

  • raj

    Emotions have the power to move mountains

  • Sed0009

    This us just what I needed to hear. Thank You.

  • Pravin

    I lost my dear grandmother many years ago, and I live with the emotional horror of knowing I will 
    inevitably loose my parents. It is true that the loss of loved ones is much more devastating , in a way that makes my own death a minor issue.
    I am glad you have found a way to deal with it. I am as emotional as you are (although male) and still struggle with it

  • Piquantdeb

    How timely this is. My mom passed away two days ago, May 15. It is impossibly difficult-or it would be if it seemed real.  I am struck dumb by realizing the one person who would understand what I’m feeling and who I need to talk to is her.  It is inconceivable that i will cease being so ‘alone’ a i am today.  thank you for your post..I know I will re read it in the coming days.

  • DOm

    very inspirational. I am very emotional too and I have such trouble figuring out how to express them positively. 

  • Eva

    Thank you ..for a major part of my life I was told I am too emotional,that I ought control my feelings more and toughen up..I thought,At that time( they) were right..I now know with all my being( they) were not correct and that my showing my emotions were and are the very strength of who I am.
    Now I don’t need to make life changing decisions in the heat of emotion( which I have done) but I can feel and express without shame..wonderful read thank you again.

  • Sarah

    Love and sympathy to Dina Weldin for the loss of both her grandfather and recently, her grandmother.  May they rest in peace and find their place in the quiet sea of souls that watch over us! ♥
    And thank you, Lori, for yet another beautiful and moving post! ♥

  • Dinaweldin

    Hi Roel, I am happy to hear you enjoyed it. Thank you for reading! -Dina

  • Dinaweldin

     First, let me say how sorry I am about the loss of your mother. That is something that is incredibly difficult and something you will never quite” get over” I would imagine. But it gets better and if this article helped you even a little bit, then I am happy. Let yourself experience emotion and I will keep you in my thoughts. I wish you all the best. – Dina

  • Dinaweldin

     Hi Pravin–grandparents are such a dear and strong presence in many families. It is hard to think that one day our parents will go too. I have found a way to deal with it and it makes it easier. I hope that advice was helpful for all and don’t be afraid to show those emotions and express them. That’s what makes us human! thanks for reading.

  • Dinaweldin

     You are very welcome–so happy to hear you enjoyed it. Thanks for reading.

  • Dinaweldin

     So true, Raj! I can definitely identify with that. Thanks for reading.

  • Lv2terp

    Beautiful blog, thank you for sharing your vulnerabilities and experiences!  I love your advice “Live them, acknowledge them, give them some time to breathe in your life, and then move on from them.”…perfect! 🙂

  • Vina

    Not long ago (a few years ago), I realized that I may suddenly depart too. So I quit my job of 12 years to go where my passion takes me. Spending more time with myself, my family, friends & strangers. That’s being true to my own emotion and moving on in life doing what’s worth…giving with metta & compassion.

  • Piquantdeb

    I am so happy for you that you could do this. It must be so fulfilling.  I hear those stories and at age 54 with the very recent 2 days ago) loss of my last parent, I long to do that as well.  But, as a single parent with my only son in college I don’t have the means or the retirement plan that provides that option. 
    I will have to find a way to find my passion and be true to my emotions in a worthwhile manner with more restrictions.  I hope I find it soon. 
    And, I hope you continue to flourish in your journey.

  • Teresamaria

    Ahhhh,i loved reading this! Hope you are in peace and enjoying the good memories.Emotions are good.You brought back some memories…you see  i never got to meet my grandmothers,they both died very young.As a child i was jelous of my friends with grandmothers.I remember my mother telling me the most amazing stories about her mother,she died when my mother was 9.My mother made her mother’s life sound like a fairytale to me.I remember thinking,my i have such a boring life.I wanted to have a life as exciting as my grandmother!Now that i am much older and have my own children,i realise that all that remains are the good times and somehow all the bad seem to be erased! Is’nt amazing?My grandmother story goes something like this…she was the youngest of many children and her whole family died when she was two,of yellow fever.She was put in an orphanage…this rich man fetched her and took her home on horseback under his cape,to give her as a present to his wife that could not have children.She had a happy life for a while until the “father” committed suicide,her mother died later and because she was not legally adopted,the family managed to take all from her.She then marries a man with a drinking problem.Had four children,fell pregnant again,had a back street abortion and died at the age of 32 from complications,leaving my mother,the eldest,9.What can i say?by the way,i am a normal human being,as i now think that i must have being insane!

  • Dinaweldin

    Thank you,I am so happy you enjoyed it! Thanks so much for reading!

  • Dinaweldin

    Thank you…there is “right” way to express emotions…I gave what works for me and maybe that will work for you! That is my hope and I am so happy you enjoyed, thanks for reading!

  • Marie-Élaine

    As an “hypersensitive” girl myself, your message went straight for my heart! I very often get lovingly teased by my friends and family about crying over movies, music, plays, and especially cute sleeping babies in diaper commercials. 🙂 

    I used to feel embarassed about this, but now I’ve come to realize what a blessing it is. People like you and me are deeply connected to our fellow humans – I believe that it’s an awareness that each of us is a magnificent part of the whole that makes us root for the underdog – or the innocent little boy in the Skype commercial, and brings in us this profound, seemingly unconsolable yearning for the ones who have left us. It is in our essence to care deeply and it is a wonderful gift that I wouldn’t exchange for anything else in the world.

    Let’s keep on feelin’! 🙂 (and please keep on writing, you’re beautiful.)


  • Dolores Alvarez Indart

    lik it 🙂

  • nihal makram

    Well said ya dina,such lovely words,ofcourse made me cry u see I was papa s favorate daughter, both of them are with me all the time remembering the good all times with a smile and a tear.

  • sweetborigirl

    I really love this post. I am a very emotional person and usually try to hide my feelings till the drop in the cup spills and then I just lose it pretty much. I am glad that I can learn some good tips from this post!

    “Live them, acknowledge them, give them some time to breathe in your life, and then move on from them. Express your sadness, happiness, anxiety, and fears through other outlets.”
    I will definetely take this advice. And “sending emotions out to the world as positive energy” through singing, yoga, dancing, etc is such a great advice! I will never again apologize for showing my feelings (this doesn’t mean not taking responsabilities for my actions though, showing feelings and acting irresponsibly on those feelings are two different things). This post will stay with me for a long time! My grandpa’ passed away a while back and grandma’ is getting weak as she ages. I still get emotional over it every now and then, less often than before. I will always love him.

  • Even if it’s late, condolences for your grandfather’s passing, and I hope your grandmother feels better. I envy people who can show their emotions with ease. I agree, I don’t think it’s a sign of weekness at all.

  • riply

     There is this person in my life that has defined me as “negative”; yet I see things somewhat differently.

    Whether I am right or wrong or somewhere in between I set out for consideration. 

    In my view I believe it essential to honestly and straight forwardly address issues and problems that do not/ will not go away just by themselves.  How else does one actually and “positively” move forward?  

    In my understanding of the world, it seems we have no choice but to accept that life can be difficult and hard;
     and while at any certain time life experiences might be seen as overwhelming and labeled as being negative – 

    they really are not at all.
    Rather, it is what we make of these experiences to be (or to be interpreted) through our heartfelt attitude.   
    It is absolutely impossible for one to  deny problems by putting on a positive face (or mask), and never reaching resolutions or solutions. A big yellow smiley face one might show to the public –  but it is filled with growing non addressed issues can become way too heavy to carry on one’s shoulders. 
    The smiley yellow balloon will eventually burst.  

    Then what?   An Explosion Perhaps?  

    Denial of the unwanted does not make it / them go away.  Rather, doing so keeps the “motor running or the sore festering”.


    If you had a broken leg, would pretending you didn’t and “staying positive” with smiles and a happy demeanor make it go away?   NO!  it would be painful, very, very painful; 
    especially at first, when absolutely necessary to address the requirements (THE WORK) 
    it would take to heal  (TO REACH A SOLUTION / RESOLUTION).    

    Most definitely, it would not be easy, or “happy” or without discomfort.   Now is this type of WORK to be considered  “negative” with regard to emotions” or with regard to  physically  pain?   

    How does one define such a state of conflict or hurt?
    How does one define or label the person experiencing or desiring or pursuing such WORK? 
    Almost by definition the experience has to be at the minimum uncomfortable?  

    So,the question being: Is being uncomfortable or in pain a negative thing?   

    Or, is such a state of being a positive on the journey of growth/resolution/healing? 
    Another question:  How to relate to another as a being a positive person 
    through what can so easily be interpreted as focusing on only the negatives ?

    And, if the person you are attempting to relate such a type of issue/ conflict or pain, does not understand or empathize 
    and neither seems to want to attempt to try to understand or empathize 
    how does one resolve this yourself within your inner strife?

    For me, regarding life’s challenges “the way through is forward” or perhaps “…the only way forward is through”.   Staying stagnant, never addressing the difficult/ the tedious/ the painful/ the unyielding/ the rigid and/or demanding aspects of our lives is not at all helpful or positive and certainly does not enable one to grow or heal.  Pretending that any of the above mentioned life conditions or situations are not there or do not happen only serves to makes one’s 
    life much, much more difficult and complicated and heavy.    

    This says nothing of the added DRAMA that can complicate and confuse the entire scenario.   Let’s not even go there !!!

    So, in the end it is the WORK … really, really hard, arduous and very often painful and 
    most unwelcome/ unwanted/ to be avoided at all costs WORK 
    that is needed to positively address / manage / accept these parts of our lives that are inevitable and inescapable.

    And the sooner and more straightforward the better.   

    How many people deny or avoid this needed and necessary work because they fear they might be or seen as negative?

    How many people are seen as “negative” while trying to do the necessary positive WORK  ?

    For consideration: Is being positive through difficult times the essence, spirit and fiber of an individual 
    with the real inner, true and quality character?

    Is this to what we should aspire?

  • Root

    Thank you for this.

  • Very well-expressed, Dina, and timely (as appears from the posts here). I, too, have been host to innumerable feelings of sadness and loss. One month to the day [today] I lost my Mom. I’ve been in a funk, trying to write my way through it. Some days I just don’t feel like putting pen to paper or finger to keyboard. But it is a must, at least for me.

    I used to teach in weekend seminars that emotion is E + motion. Energy in motion. If we attempt to dam up that flow, it inevitably spills over or breaks out at improper times and in unforeseen moments. Best to let it run. Learn to accept it, regard it as an integral part of life, and allow it passage.

    At times I feel so damned maudlin having little to express but drama. Yet it is as crucial to life as are the fun and frolic…during which we tend to overlook [by writing] while dancing in the light. Light has its shadows. On has its off. A balance is struck through vulnerability, opening the gates of expression.

    Thank you again for your words. They comfort.

    ~ Mark

  • Nice.  There IS such a thing as too much though.  There’s a point where the sudden and drastic emotional swings does show a kind of weakness.  I don’t know what that point is, of course, or what that point is for you.  But I don’t think simply accepting them without thought of what part of it is necessary or reasonable would lead someone to be a better person, though for most obviously that’s all they need.

    Also, visited Egypt the November before the revolution.  Really amazing place.  Unlike any other…

  • Frank Napolitano

    Thank you.

  • J Carr

    Hi Dina – I used to have your ‘problem’ in reverse …The thought of my own death (or the thought of no longer existing) was most uncomfortable for me, until recently.

    To make a long story short, I picked up a copy of DR. Wayne Dyer’s latest book ‘Wishes Fulfilled’. I no longer have fear of my own death, and am also able to fully cope and understand the passing of others, along with so many other enlightening thoughts and behaviors I have gained as a result of reading this marvelous book.

    Hope you get a chance to read it.

    May you have a wonderful and cheerful day.