Our emotions and feelings can play havoc with our balance in life especially when we’re going through a period of uncertainty, change and feelings of lack of control.  The good news is there are 5 steps to managing difficult emotions and feelings.

Grief and loss aren’t only associated with the finality of life. You see, when we’re going through difficult change there is most likely going to be some form of loss attached to it. 

To gain something different you will have to lose something.  For example.  You're unhappy at work so you take a new job but you may be sad because you loved some of the people you worked with.  Therefore, change will bring about the uncertainty of the unknown and self-doubt, even when you’re unhappy and desire a change.

Even though we don’t like to dwell on difficult feelings it’s important to learn and understand them more easily.  Learning and understanding your feelings will mean you’re learning and understanding yourself.  This, in turn, means you can make more informed decisions about how you react to them instead of letting your subconscious take control.


American psychologist Dr Robert Plutchik, states eight primary emotions that serve as the foundation for all other emotions and then feelings:

Joy: The uplifting feeling of happiness and delight.

Sadness: The poignant emotion associated with loss or disappointment.

Acceptance: A sense of contentment and peace.

Disgust: The aversion or revulsion toward something unpleasant.

Fear: The primal survival instinct that triggers the fight-or-flight response.

Anger: A motivating force that propels action and change.

Surprise: The sudden reaction to unexpected events.

Anticipation: The eager expectation of something to come.

Wheel of emotions


Feelings, on the other hand, are how we experience emotions. They are influenced by personal beliefs, memories, hormones, and our environment. Because of this, feelings can differ from person to person.  In other words, feelings are a learned reaction to an emotional trigger and there are a lot of variations on them.

How do we manage difficult feelings?

Embracing the Unknown: When faced with change, we often step into unknown territory. Our brains crave predictability and familiarity, so venturing beyond our comfort zone can be unsettling. Even positive changes can feel daunting because they disrupt the familiar patterns of our lives. Embracing them means you are recognising them as real and acknowledging them for what they are.

Mixed Emotions: Change rarely comes in a neat package. We experience an array of feelings of excitement, anxiety, sadness, and even grief. Acknowledging both the positive and negative emotions surrounding the change is crucial. Whether you planned for it or not, allow yourself to feel the full spectrum of emotions however frightening they may seem to you.

Loss and Adjustment: Change often involves loss—of routines, relationships, or familiar environments. Even if the change is positive, we mourn what we leave behind. Adjusting to the new reality takes time and effort.

Comfort Zone: Imagine your life as a cosy room. Change kicks us out of that room and into a new one. The discomfort arises from leaving behind the familiar and adapting to the unfamiliar. Our brains resist this shift, leading to emotional turbulence and an array of uncomfortable feelings.

Negative Outlook: If you tend to view life through a negative lens, major changes can amplify those feelings. Negative thoughts and stress often go hand in hand. Even positive changes can be unsettling because they alter our once-comfortable way of life.

Resistance to Letting Go: Sometimes, we cling to our current thoughts and feelings—even if it’s not ideal—because it provides a sense of comfort and security. Letting go and embracing change becomes difficult when we fear the unknown.

5 Steps to Managing Difficult Feelings.

  • There is no other way but to face them head-on and get familiar with them.
  • Take one feeling at a time and describe it and describe where it is in your body.
  • Work out what has triggered this feeling and explore it so you can recognise it when it pops up again.
  • Decide how you want to be feeling instead.
  • How can this be actioned?
Learning to know when to STOP

Each reaction is created via a trigger, which then creates an emotion and then a feeling. This trigger, emotion, feeling and reaction process happens extremely quickly in our subconscious, meaning we are unaware of it happening. Through this investigative work, you will learn to slow down the process of what has created the trigger so you can begin to understand the emotions, the feelings and then your reaction.  This means you can intercept it, changing the course of your feelings and actions and regain control back into your life. When you can begin to recognise the trigger it’s almost like putting up a STOP sign.  This STOP sign will give you time to think about how you are processing the information, checking if it’s the right emotion to achieve the feelings and reactions you do want. 

Let's talk about how I can support you and help you end the sadness to restore happiness back into you life.

About the Author

Cath Lloyd

British TEDx Speaker, life coach and author of “When Dad Became Joan” with her second booking coming out at the end of 2023, Cath Lloyd was a shy and unconfident student at school. Learning from her life experiences has developed her confidence, enabling her to share her voice, ideas, thoughts and feelings.

Cath has spoken on local radio, Radio 5 Live and BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour as well as many podcast shows. Cath is promoting the importance of self-honesty to learn and understand yourself. The other is, communication is one of the keys to keeping your emotional, mental, and physical balance and keeping family life running more smoothly.

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