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Introducing Constructive Wallowing

What is constructive wallowing?

It’s being free to feel your emotions, exactly as they are, without fear (unless what you’re feeling is fear. You can’t exactly feel that without fear!).

It means protecting your emotional and physical health by bringing some ease and compassion to your daily life.

The phrase came to me in the shower one day — that magical place where all great ideas and many not-so-great ones seem to take shape.

I was thinking about a client who was going through a painful breakup but insisted, “I don’t want to wallow!”

And I thought, ‘Why not? If only people knew how truly constructive it is to wallow in feelings, they might not feel so bad about doing so.’

We all know that taking action is not always a good idea when you’re having strong feelings; but I hope to convince you that it’s always a good idea to let yourself fully experience your emotions by wallowing in them.

That means no more pretending — at least not with yourself.

No more trying to look on the bright side, or trying to see the situation from the other person’s point of view.

Those are good things to do, but not right when you feel bad. You can do those things later.

The first thing to do with a feeling is to feel it. Wallow in it, if you will.

The reward for consistent wallowing in your true feelings is nothing less than becoming whole again. No more feeling empty, alienated from self & others, or chronically unhappy.

There are a number of posts on this blog under the Constructive Wallowing tag if you’d like to learn more about how to deal with stinky feelings while being kind to yourself.

I’ve also written a book that spells everything out and provides exercises, in addition to answering the most common questions. You can check that on Amazon.com, or at your local library or independent bookstore.

For audio and video about Constructive Wallowing, see my Media Page.

In the meantime, please let me know what questions or concerns you have by leaving a comment below.

About Tina Gilbertson

Tina Gilbertson is a psychotherapist, speaker and author based in Denver, Colorado. She specializes in supporting parents of estranged adult children through therapy, consulting and other resources, and offers assertiveness training and executive coaching for organizations. The author of "Constructive Wallowing: How to Beat Bad Feelings by Letting Yourself Have Them" and the "Guide for Parents of Estranged Adult Children," Tina is often featured in the media as an expert on communication and relationships. Her blog on PsychologyToday.com is called "Constructive Wallowing."

0 Responses to "Introducing Constructive Wallowing"

  • Susie Rodriguez
    March 8, 2012 - 5:42 am Reply

    I just signed up to your blogs rss feed. Will you post more on this subject?

    • Tina Gilbertson
      March 9, 2012 - 11:50 am Reply

      Hi Susie,
      You bet! This is a subject that’s close to my heart. Tomorrow’s post will touch on it, as will many future posts. Thanks for your interest.

  • delincolon
    June 29, 2013 - 9:54 am Reply

    We are like-minded. This reminds me of my “it’s-time-to-be-sick” philosophy. You know how a lot of people try to ignore an illness and power through their day? Not me. I don’t get sick often (once every couple of years) – and I’m talking really sick – pain, fever, etc. – but when I can no longer ignore the symptoms, I have “time-to-be-sick” routines I go through. I embrace it. I get into pajamas, climb into bed with a couple of books, pad of paper and pen, a Sudoku book, and a hot cup of coffee (maybe with a shot or so of Kahlua or Bailey’s). I read, I write and watch a couple of old “I Love Lucy” episodes (I also believe in laughter as an adjunct to any remedy). It’s a time to alleviate myself of many daily responsibilities and recuperate in the cozy, warm comfort of my own little world with no other demands than to get well. Of course, I’m very single-minded. I only focus on one thing at a time. That might explain my approach.

    • Tina Gilbertson
      June 29, 2013 - 7:26 pm Reply

      Delin, I applaud your focus on self-care. I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s because you take such good care of yourself that you’re not sick more often.

      Thanks for sharing your strategy — I enjoyed reading the details. You made it sound so inviting, maybe others will decide to adopt your methods when they feel under the weather.

      As for me, I’m already right there with you. As you said, we’re like-minded!

      Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment, and for the apt analogy. Best wishes for your continued good health.

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