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How to Deal With Unresolved Feelings

by Anna Green

Whether you are dealing with unresolved feelings about a relationship, family conflict, work issue or broken friendship, these issues can lead to significant distress or unhealthy behaviors if left unresolved for too long. Since working through unresolved feelings can bring up intense emotional pain, particularly if the feelings involve trauma, it may be necessary to work with a professional counselor or psychologist to help you figure out the best way to work through your emotions.

Deal With the Issues Directly

Examining the nature of your feelings and addressing them head on can be an important key to ensure that you do not repeat unhealthy patterns. The Bowen Center, a facility dedicated to family therapy and research on interpersonal dynamics, explains that when we try to avoid unresolved emotional issues, they can trickle over into other parts of our lives. For example, the Bowen center uses the example of a man who has unresolved, negative feelings toward his parents, refuses to address them with his parents, then projects his unresolved feelings onto his wife. In short, if you don't address unresolved feelings directly, they can affect other parts of your life negatively.

Involve Others in Your Healing

In addition to acknowledging and identifying your specific unresolved feelings, attempt to involve the people closest to you in the health process. Talking about your emotions and unresolved issues can help you avoid conflicts by helping those around you understand what you are going through. They can also give you support and feedback, as well as an outlet to share your feelings.

Set Healthy Boundaries

Because resolving feelings is often an ongoing process, it may be necessary to set boundaries with people who are involved in your unresolved emotional issues. For example, if you have unresolved anger toward a parent for events that happened in your childhood, it may be beneficial to limit contact to phone calls until you begin to heal.

Constructive Engagement

Even if you are experiencing intense emotional pain, cutting yourself off from friends and social activities can be detrimental to your healing process, explains Arlene R. Taylor, Ph.D., on her website, Realizations Inc. Taylor recommends spending time with family members, calling friends or volunteering, even if it feels emotionally challenging.

Professional Therapy

Sometimes, unresolved emotions may be too much for you to handle on your own. An example of this is when the feelings involve trauma, such as past abuse or victimization. If unresolved emotions get in the way of handling day-to-day responsibilities or cause a significant amount of distress, seeing a professional therapist may be necessary. Your counselor can give you specific strategies for working through the emotions in a safe environment and at your own pace.

About the Author

Anna Green has been published in the "Journal of Counselor Education and Supervision" and has been featured regularly in "Counseling News and Notes," Keys Weekly newspapers, "Travel Host Magazine" and "Travel South." After earning degrees in political science and English, she attended law school, then earned her master's of science in mental health counseling. She is the founder of a nonprofit mental health group and personal coaching service.

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