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Elisa Goldstein, Ph.D.Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D.
A blog about mindfulness, stress-reduction, psychotherapy and mental health.

Did You Know You May be Keeping Difficulty Around?

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D. Updated: Mar 28th 2011


questionWhen you come to think about it, who really wants to keep difficult emotions around? However, you may be surprised to find out that without knowing it, many of us actually keep difficult emotions around. How do we do this and how can we change it?

I like to give a hand model example of this. Whenever we’re feeling something uncomfortable, it’s our instinctual reaction to try and avoid it, suppress it or get rid of it. But in order to do this we need to grab hold of it.

So put your hand out straight and make a fist like you are grabbing something. Now imagine this is anger, fear, sadness, shame, guilt or any other difficult feelings. This is really what you’re doing as you try to get rid of it. You’re holding onto it, it has nowhere to go so you are truly keeping it around.

Now, flip your hand over so your palm is facing up with your hand stretched out.

We can learn to hold our emotions like this. In essence, we acknowledge them, but still hold them. The difference here is that the emotions have the freedom to take its natural course of coming and going. We are not gripping tightly to it or trying to push it away.

The next time you have a difficult emotion, imagine this hand model and dip into the sensory experience of the feeling. Maybe you get in an argument with your spouse, getting a negative report at work, or get cut off by another driver. Allow the actual feeling of the emotion in your body to support you in grounding to what’s here rather than getting caught in the trap of grasping or clinging to the feeling.

But don’t take my word for it, give it a shot. Your experience is truly your best teacher.

As always, please share your thoughts, stories and questions below. Your interaction creates a living wisdom for us all to benefit from. 


Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D.

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist in private practice in West Los Angeles and is author of the upcoming book The Now Effect, co-author of A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook, Foreword by Jon Kabat-Zinn, author of the Mindful Solutions audio series, and the Mindfulness at Work™ program currently being adopted in multiple multinational corporations.

Check out Dr. Goldstein's acclaimed CD's on Mindful Solutions for Stress, Anxiety, and Depression, Mindful Solutions for Addiction and RelapsePrevention, and Mindful Solutions for Success and Stress Reduction at Work. -- "They are so relevant, I have marked them as one of my favorites on a handout I give to all new clients" ~ Psychiatrist.

If you're wanting to integrate more mindfulness into your daily life, sign up for his Mindful Living Twitter Feed. Dr. Goldstein is also available for private psychotherapy.

Reader Comments
Discuss this issue below or in our forums.

Just one small kernal - reply - Elisha Goldstein - Mar 29th 2011

Hi M,

Thank you for pointing the grammar out. 

As for the simplicity of the blog, please try and keep in mind this is a blog, which to me means I am imparting small kernals of ways to work with various things.

In no way do I imply that this is a panacea, just one small thing to work with, to add to your bag of tricks that may be helpful to keep in mind. 

May this be a support,




Grammar - Miranda-Jane - Mar 28th 2011


just a minor complaint, but seeing as I've just done the same to another site (Bipolar Disorders), who had poor grammar i.e not enough commas & full stops, there by making reading incredibly difficult at speed, I just read the above & noticed that when having types of emotions, followed by reffering to them with the verb 'is' rather than 'are' (as they are referred to as more than one!).

As I said, only a minor mistake on your part, but I'm sure you would like for it to be brought to your attention (& then remember to read through before posting).

I shall be signing up for your newsletter, however, I really don't believe that the above is at all as simple as you are trying to make out & one can REALLY get rid of things so easily, especially as many, like me, who suffer from severe clinical depression, cannot simply dismiss their problems & the depression by shoving a fist/open hand into the air - if I could do that, I'd have a lot less to deal with in life!


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