3 Keys for Coping When Someone You Love Upsets You

quarrelWe’ve all heard the old adage about how our relationships help us grow.

Unless you’ve been a hermit up on a mountain top, you have intimately experienced the truth of this. (Even if you ARE a hermit, you had to experience this on some level before you scurried up to that cave!)

Whether it’s your spouse or significant other, a parent, a child, a sibling, or a close friend—there’s something about that intimacy in relationship that will ALWAYS give us the opportunity to confront those ugly bits that live inside. The shadow as Jung called it.

Coping with upset and the emotions that arise can be challenging.

I believe in the Law of Attraction, and I make it a point to notice the positive whether I’m looking at someone dear to me, a stranger, or a simple situation. For the most part, I think that ‘seeing the glass half full’, or ‘expecting the best’ is a good way to live.

Yet, there can be dangers if you try to plaster positivity over so-called “negative” emotions that naturally arise as part of the human experience.

This is because there is a distinct difference between THOUGHTS and EMOTIONS.

Thoughts versus Emotions

Thoughts originate and exist in your mind, which for most of us, is busy busy busy spewing out new thoughts and judgments 24/7.  Our little brains love to instantly assess a person or situation based on what we already know or have seen and then make a snap decision about what it all means. That decision can unfortunately be extremely flawed or have no basis in reality.

Emotions live in the body. We love it when pleasant emotions visit, things like joy, love, exhilaration, passion. We tend to shut down when those less exalted emotions come to call:  resentment, hurt, sadness, despair, anger, disappointment.

Weirdly, although we might want to push those emotions away, there is a tendency to obsessively return to the story that caused them. At least that is what I notice in myself.

So, when my partner says something that stings a bit, I might think to myself, Oh no, I’m not really feeling much resentment. I can get over it. It doesn’t matter. In this way I’m tricking myself into believing I’m being positive.

But then, next thing I know, I’m mentally reviewing the last 10 things he said that caused me to clench up a bit. I’m FEEDING my resentment story. This always starts on an unconscious level and by the time I get conscious I’ve been on a treadmill of miserable thinking.

And guess what? My vibration and energy has sunk down into the sewer!

And here I was trying to be positive!

So what happens next?

I find myself interacting with him from my ‘shadow self’, I might say something mean or manipulative. I am now so caught up in my story that the hurt and resentment has taken over my entire being. I might even feel myself watching helplessly as the toxic words spill out.

Eckart Tolle calls this living in the Pain Body.

So, when you get into this place, how do you get out?

Step One:  Allow the Emotion

Emotions are meant to be felt and released. Research has shown that if we accept whatever emotion is present and allow it to be in our body, it will pass through in less than a couple of minutes.

I have found this to be true… IF I refuse to allow my mind to keep feeding the story. It’s about focusing on the FEELING not the why of it.

You sit with whatever is present, and let yourself just feel it.

Someone once told me that Brene Brown does this by just tuning into it that FEELING and repeating PAIN, PAIN, PAIN. Sometimes I do this – because otherwise my mind wants to pile on more and more story to feed the pain.

I also find EFT Tapping to be extremely effective as a somatic tool to keep me focused on the FEELING and less on the THINKING.

Step Two:  Connect with Source or Higher Power

This can also be thought of as connect with who you really are. 

We are so much more than these bodies, more than our day-to-day experience, than our past, than our anxieties about the future. When you can connect with this, and experience your ‘meta’ self as opposed to your ‘meat’ self, as Martha Beck refers to it, you are then connected to an infinite well of possibility and solutions.

You can do this in a myriad of ways:  meditation, prayer, listening to uplifting music or spoken audios, grounding and centering techniques, present moment awareness, ritual, or just simply taking several deep breaths.

If you don’t already have a tried and true way of connecting to the Divine, experiment with these ideas and others.

Step Three:  State your intention and your choice.

There’s no getting around it. We don’t get control the behavior of another person. Often we think if we find the right words, point out the flaws in their current behavior in a way they finally get – well then they will change. Then we can get what we want from them.

But, ultimately, we are all sovereign beings and everyone gets to decide for his or herself what they will do or won’t do.

What we DO get to control is our own thoughts about the behavior, and our own responses and reactions.

I know, I know. Tricky stuff. And a LOT easier said than done, especially when your pain body has taken over. That’s why it’s important to go through Steps 1 and 2 first.

And, simply realizing this essential truth goes a long way in shifting your perspective when things start to go sideways with your loved one.

Once you allowed your emotions, and connected in your own way to your larger self, you will naturally begin to understand what you REALLY want to choose. State these choices out loud if possible and/or write them down.

Here are some that worked for me just yesterday:

I choose acceptance.

I choose peace.

I choose freedom from judgement.

I choose love.

I choose freedom

I choose acceptance.


This process turned out to be magical for me.

I won’t lie, I had to work to stay connected and to remember these choices. Pain Body hovered in the background ready and willing to engulf me when conflict once again arose later that day.

But, since I had focused on these choices, on allowing emotions, and on connecting, my words and my demeanor shifted radically. I didn’t have to manipulate, all I had to do was communicate from that connected and peaceful space.

And, weirdly, or perhaps not so surprisingly…. HIS energy shifted and we were able to reach agreement and feel the strength of our love for each other as so obvious.

Give these three steps a try the next time conflict erupts with someone you love.

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Showing 4 comments
  • juliet

    Sarah, you describe the process of separating thoughts from feelings, and working with the shadow, really beautifully and with great clarity. I love the warmth of your page and your writing. Thank you.

    • sarah

      Thank YOU Juliet for your noticing and understanding my meaning. I have found that paying attention to this difference between thoughts and feelings is so key to my personal calm and well being. I do so appreciate your kind words about the writing.

  • Kathy

    Such wonderful suggestions, Sarah! Thank you for being so real and for sharing your hard times as well as your successes. Great article!

    • sarah

      Thanks Kathy! I’m so glad you appreciate the suggestions. It was good to write it all out because it helped me to clarify what works… so I can pay attention next time.

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