What Does Sitting With Your Feelings Actually Mean?

Just sit with your feelings! 

Have you heard this cliched phrase before? Maybe you’ve seen it on an inspirational Instagram post or heard it from a calm yogi during your practice. But it sounds somewhat ambiguous, doesn’t it? How do you know what “sitting” actually means? And what exactly are you supposed to do? 

For example, maybe you feel sad or anxious. Maybe someone said something that triggered immense fear or shame. So you’re with these uncomfortable emotions- you know they’re there- but now what? 

Let’s get into what you need to know. 

Sitting Isn’t The Same as Wallowing

Let’s be real- we’ve all wallowed in our emotions. It’s a universal part of the human experience. And sometimes, wallowing is necessary, especially when you just need a quick mental reprieve. There is certainly a place for ruminating, panicking, or complaining about your circumstances. 

Life isn’t always fair, and wallowing can be a form of temporary coping. Unfortunately, it doesn’t lead to any real sort of acceptance or healing. Instead, it can keep you stuck in a state of misery. 

If you sometimes feel like you’re a victim of your own emotions, it may be time to adopt a different mindset. Doing so takes time and effort, but most people find it well worth the sacrifice.

Sitting Often Requires Mindfulness 

The thought of being present with your emotions may, at first, seem terrifying. After all, why would you willingly invite such discomfort? How is that supposed to make you feel better?

Paradoxically, when we allow and make room for our emotional experiences, we drop our egos and become curious about our internal needs. We naturally practice more self-compassion. That, in turn, tends to make difficult feelings seem more tolerable.

Practicing mindfulness doesn’t mean you necessarily need to adopt a formal meditation practice. Instead, being mindful comes down to simply being in the current moment and accepting reality for what it is. 

When it comes to sitting with your feelings, mindfulness can be as simple as acknowledging your thoughts and bodily sensations as they arise. For example, you might tell yourself, I feel heavy in my chest. I feel some discomfort and tension in my stomach. 

Sitting With Your Feelings Actually Mean

Sitting Sometimes Means Talking

Isolating yourself when you feel depressed or anxious may exacerbate the problem. We are social creatures, and we thrive when we feel accepted and validated by others. 

Sometimes, sitting with your feelings entails exploring and processing them with a trusted loved one. Doing so is vulnerable, but it can allow you to let others comfort you. In turn, this symbiosis can make you feel less alone.

Of course, it’s important to choose a safe support system. You want to ensure that these people genuinely care about your well-being and have your best interest at heart. 

If you don’t have these kinds of people in your life, it may be time to reevaluate some of your relationships or prioritize meeting new people. 


Sitting Requires Trusting 

At some point, you will need to trust that your feelings aren’t bad or dangerous. Feelings are neutral reactions to internal or external stimuli. Likewise, you will also need to trust that they will pass. 

So, although your emotions may seem intense, they are fleeting. They come and go, but you must trust that pausing allows you to wait rather than simply respond. 


Sitting Means Avoiding Automatic Reacting 

People often find themselves in mental turmoil when they automatically react to their emotions rather than sit with them. Snap reactions can be irrational, and this is when compulsive behaviors tend to become problematic. 

Sometimes sitting means allowing yourself the time and grace to think about how you want to cope with your feelings. Maybe you will decide you want to journal about them. Perhaps you will realize you need to take a nap or call a friend. 

But when you can get to that conscious place of being proactive rather than reactive with your reactions, your feelings have less power over you. As a result, you tend to feel more at ease with life.

Sitting With Your Feelings


How Therapy Can Help You in Sitting With Your Feelings 

All of this may sound good, but truly accepting and working through uncomfortable feelings is typically easier said than done. The work usually requires ongoing consistency, effort, and support.

These suggestions may be challenging if you struggle with depression or anxiety. Furthermore, a history of emotional trauma can make trusting your emotions difficult. Therapy can help you untangle the parts of you that feel wounded or stuck. Therapy also offers a dynamic experience for you to understand your feelings without acting on them impulsively or erratically.

If you’re ready to feel more authentic and wholehearted in your life, I’m ready to meet you! Contact me today to schedule your free consultation! 




  1. What Are Embodiment Practices in Therapy? - Inner Wisdom Seattle-Coaching and Counseling - […] you to slow down and connect to your body’s physical sensations. This is also known as sitting with your…

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