ILBS S5 86 | Unpleasant Feelings


In order to move through grief or other unpleasant feelings, you need to make sense of the impact and meaning they had on you across time. Grief is just feelings of sadness, helplessness, anger, and disappointment. You can put that all behind you if you just listen to your body. It’s only once you get over those feelings is when you’ll feel confident in everything you do. Join Tim Westbrook as he talks to Joan Rosenberg, PhD, about dealing with unpleasant feelings and why grief is the pathway to forgiveness. Dr. Rosenberg is the founder and creator of Emotional Mastery. She was featured in the critically acclaimed documentary films “I Am” and “The Hidden Epidemic”. She is also a TEDx Speaker and the author of 90 Seconds to A Life You Love. Learn how to gain confidence by understanding your feelings. Discover what happens to the body when you feel. Find out the true goal of speaking up. And, learn how to deal with grief so that it doesn’t linger. Know all of this so that you can put unpleasant feelings behind you.


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Dealing With Unpleasant Feelings Like Grief And Anxiety With Joan Rosenberg, PhD

Grieving Leads To Forgiving

We are going to talk about feelings. What if I told you that the anxiety that you are feeling might not even be real anxiety? Rather, what you are feeling is just a way to cover up potential unpleasant feelings. In other words, anxiety is a way to avoid. What if I told you that anxiety was also a result of bottling up feelings as opposed to expressing them outwardly to others? I’m here with Dr. Joan Rosenberg.

We are going to talk about difficult feelings and how to get through them. Dr. Rosenberg is a featured expert in the critically acclaimed documentary films I Am and The Hidden Epidemic, along with Dr. Daniel Amen. She has been seen on CNN’s American Morning show, OWN, and PBS stations nationally, along with other appearances across TV, radio, and print media.

She’s the Founder and Creator of Emotional Mastery, the only systematized emotional training and conditioning approach that teaches laypersons and mental health clinicians alike how to foster unwavering emotional strength, self-confidence, and self-esteem. She serves on John Assaraf’s Scientific Advisory Board, has one patent in performance skill development, is a published author of Mean Girls, Meaner Women, and is published in professional books in psychology journals. Joan, welcome to the show. I’m glad to have you here with me.

It’s exciting to join you, Tim. I’m all in.

I have been looking forward to this because we are going to talk about feelings and emotions, which is something that a lot of people don’t like to talk about. People don’t like talking about feelings. People would rather stuff it. People would rather talk about the weather.

The weather, the latest TV show or movie.

Whatever is going on in the news. Your work is being considered the how-to path to developing confidence. What prompted you to start down this journey in the first place?

I didn’t have any. The truth be told, the way I started early in life was to be a shy, sensitive child and quite an introvert, obviously, that comes with shyness. The key thing was, as I grew up, I would look over at my peers and would see them hanging together, laughing, the whole thing, and that sense of belonging I didn’t have. The feeling different, and I didn’t belong, all that was present for me, including being bullied. It was like, “What is this? What’s going on?” The thing that struck me is that what my peers had that I didn’t was confidence. I was always, from early on, in search of what helped people to be confident. What was that?

What is your definition of confidence?

That evolved as I got into my work as a psychologist. At this point in time, the way I look at confidence is that it’s the deep sense that you can handle the emotional outcome of whatever you face or pursue. It means that there’s this quality of can-do-it-ness.

“I can do it.” Confidence means you feel that you can do it.

It’s internal. It’s a sense that you can do something.

How does someone develop confidence?

Confidence is the deep sense that you can handle the emotional outcome of whatever you face or pursue.

For me, there are at least five important things that go into this. My thing was I was looking for a how-to. Even being a professional in the mental health field, we are always telling people, “You need confidence.” When I got in the field, I was like, “How do you get somebody to do that?” Nobody was telling me that. Part of the way I would think about this is that my approach is the how-to. The how-to would involve to me at least five major things. There are other things beyond that but at least five major ones.

One part of it is that you need to be able to lean into experience and move through whatever feelings you are experiencing, pleasant and unpleasant, especially unpleasant. The second is you need to be able to express yourself across the board, pleasant and unpleasant. It comes with relative ease for you to express yourself. The third has to do with being able to take action that you are willing to go out and take risks and take action to get things done, whatever it requires. With speaking and taking action, most of us think that we will be confident and then will go do those things, except it works in reverse.

You would go do those things. You speak. As you are speaking or through speaking, you gain confidence. The same is true with action taking, you take the risk or take action, and then you develop confidence, especially if stuff doesn’t work out. The last two have to do with ending harsh self-criticism. The final one is accepting compliments. Those are the five major elements of developing confidence and building confidence.

Speaking to just taking action, you have to be willing to stumble and fall. Once you stumble and fall, you realize stumbling and falling aren’t that bad. One of the things that I read is people have this thought in their mind of what is going to happen or what it’s going to be like if they stumble, fall or don’t follow through. It’s avoiding the emotions that are going to happen as a result.

Most people go, “I’m afraid to do X,” whatever the activity is. My thing is that it’s not so much necessarily that they are afraid of the activity itself. What they are more concerned about and afraid of is the undesired emotional outcome of taking the risk. I might be embarrassed, disappointed, angry, sad or whatever it might be. The person, if I’m the one that’s afraid to take the risk, is more typically not afraid of the risk. In the activity itself, instead, one is more afraid of the undesired emotional outcome of what will happen if I take that risk.

Even the thought of that undesirable emotional outcome is a reason for someone to drink, drug or find a solution to feel better.

One can use that excuse. I tried it and embarrassed myself, I drink it.

It’s the restless, irritable, discontent feeling that leads to the drink and the drug.

I don’t want to experience what I’m experiencing, so I’m going to check out.

You believe that handling difficult feelings is the foundation of feeling confident and use a formula to help people achieve that. What is the formula?

ILBS S5 86 | Unpleasant Feelings

Unpleasant Feelings: To be confident, you need to be able to lean into pleasant and unpleasant experiences. You need to express yourself and take action. And you need to deal with self-criticism and accept compliments.


Body of my work is centered around helping people lean into, accept and deal with unpleasant feelings. For me, your ability to handle unpleasant feelings is foundational confidence. The formula is 1 choice, 8 feelings, 90 seconds.

Is that the basis of your book?

That is the basis of the book. The one choice is choosing into awareness as opposed to avoidance. You already named avoidance but I will go back over it. What does awareness look like? Awareness is an openness to being as aware or as in touch with as much of your moment-to-moment experience as possible, no matter what it is, pleasant or unpleasant. Obviously, one major form of avoidance is drug use. You mentioned sex. You might’ve mentioned porn. You could mention shopping, food, and frankly having feelings about having feelings like if I’m angry, then I’m disappointed. That could be a way to distract. In fact, in that book, I identified 35 different ways to check out.

Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, all of them.

That means that avoidance is anything that is distracting, disconnecting or ignoring, anything that shuts us out of an experience. What do I want people to do? Obviously, I want people to be aware. I don’t want people to avoid. The second part of it is eight feelings. One choice, eight feelings. Again, the body of my work that’s centered around these eight unpleasant feelings, and the feelings are sadness, shame, helplessness, anger, vulnerability, embarrassment, disappointment, and frustration. I know that the first question that often comes when I even named these eight feelings is, “Why these eight?”

The reason for why these eight are because they are the most common every day and the spontaneous reaction to things that we have a reaction to that we don’t want things to turn out that way or believe that we need them to turn out a different way. These are the first reactions we have when stuff doesn’t go our way. It’s the everyday-ness of them.

We will go back to the eight feelings. I’ve heard and learned a lot about that. According to Ken Richardson, who’s the Founder of CoDA, there are seven primary feelings. I’ve started doing a little more research on it. Everybody has their opinion of what the primary filings are. There are little variations of them.

Primary feelings also date back to Darwin. There were seven that were identified, which included surprise, discuss, and some other ones. What I’m using are the ones that I consider the most common everyday reactions.

I remembered Ken Richardson seven primary feelings being anger, pain, loneliness, guilt, shame, fear, and joy. All of the other feelings are variations of those primary feelings.

This is interesting because some people in the feeling community would say that anger is a secondary reaction. At this point in my life, I don’t even consider guilt a feeling. I consider it a thought.

Difficulty speaking up is not a speaking problem, it’s a “difficulty with unpleasant feeling” problem.

I’m not 100% on the primary feelings, to be quite honest. It was many years ago. It’s something like that. I remember there was only one positive emotion, which was joy, which means that every other positive emotion is a variation of joy.

We could probably get into a lengthy discussion about what really belongs.

Moving on to the next step.

We’ve got 1 choice in the 8 feelings, so awareness and then being able to handle these eight feelings. In my early work as a psychologist, the other big question for me was confidence was, “How does somebody develop competence was my childhood and adolescent endeavor that went into adulthood?” When I went into psychology, it was then it became, “What made it so difficult for people to handle unpleasant feelings?” I would watch people struggle.

If they weren’t handling unpleasant feelings, they didn’t feel capable of handling life or handling what life throw at what they considered life to throw at them. My search was like, “What made it difficult?” A lot of neuroscience research started to come out in the late ‘90s and into the early 2000s especially. It has flourished since then. Drawing a few pieces from it, one understanding with this 90-second piece is that most of us come to know what we feel emotionally through bodily sensation.

For instance, the example I always use is an embarrassment. If I were embarrassed, you would see the redness on my face probably, or even on my neck and chest. I would feel the heat into all of that as a bodily sensation. That’s an example of what I’m talking about. Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor, who wrote the book, My Stroke of Insight, talked about how when a feeling gets triggered, there’s a rush of biochemicals into the bloodstream that activate those bodily sensations.

They flush out of the bloodstream in roughly an upper limit of 90 seconds. That’s the 90 seconds piece. What dawned on me is that it wasn’t that we didn’t want to feel the whole range of what we felt, what made feeling unpleasant feelings or sometimes pleasant feelings so difficult is that we didn’t want to feel the bodily sensation that helped us know what we were feeling emotionally. When we drink or do any of those other distracting things, it’s to get away from the bodily sensation that’s helping us know what we are feeling emotionally.

It’s to numb the bodily experience. I was always telling people, “Ride the wave,” but I wasn’t understanding why I was saying it until these two pieces came out. What I could say is to lean into any feeling, it’s your ability to ride short-lived up to this 90-second range, short-lived bodily sensation waves that help you know what you are feeling emotionally. Most people will go, “I can do 90 seconds.”

Ninety seconds is a long time.

It’s not as long as a week, a month or a year. Do people have the experience of lingering feelings? Yes. I should make a caveat here right away, which is that the trauma, for instance, encodes differently in the brain than everyday experience. I’m not necessarily talking about a traumatic experience. I’m talking about our e day experiences that we can deal with on an ongoing basis.

ILBS S5 86 | Unpleasant Feelings

Unpleasant Feelings: Most people come to know what they feel emotionally through bodily sensations. When a feeling gets triggered, there’s a rush of biochemicals into the bloodstream that activate those bodily sensations.


The one choice of I’m going to lean into awareness is, “I’m going to be able to handle eight unpleasant feelings,” the ones I’ve named, and, “I’m going to understand what it takes to deal with those unpleasant feelings is to be able to ride one or more short-lived bodily sensation waves that represent the feelings in my body to lean in and be able to tolerate and handle experience move through.”

As they say, “This too shall pass.” You are going to feel a certain way for a minute, 90 seconds, whether it’s happiness, sadness, and it doesn’t matter what it is. You are always going to feel different in literally 90 seconds.

I will say that many feelings pass in a shorter timeframe.

I love that step one is awareness. I think about being active in my addiction was oblivious. I lacked awareness. I didn’t know how I was feeling or how other people were feeling. Tuning into that awareness is a great first step. I liked that you brought that up.

The method piece of it is to understand you riding short-lived bodily sensation waves and your willingness to do that, then allows you to handle the eight feelings or more. It’s just those three steps. You can lean into unpleasant feelings day in and day out.

It also makes me think of, “Life is easy if you live it the hard way and hard if you live it the easy way.” Meaning it’s easy when you are willing to have hard conversations. If you are not willing to have hard conversations, life is hard. That’s one of the things that I’ve learned to do. Before I learned how to live and how to have hard conversations, I would way rather turn into an asshole and sabotage a relationship, which was way more hurtful. Now, it’s just a conversation and that unpleasant feeling that I didn’t want to face but I’ve learned how to do it. It’s way better.

Speaking up is the next major step in terms of building confidence, resilience, or in my mind, leading an authentic life. The thing here for me is that I always like to say, “Difficulty speaking up is not a speaking problem.”

Is that an avoidance problem?

Difficulty speaking up is not a speaking problem. Difficulty speaking up is a difficulty with the unpleasant feeling problems.

If you frame and think about it that way, it makes sense.

When you’re in touch with your needs and limitations, it moves you to a place where you can ask for help.

The reason we avoid conversations is that not only do we not want to necessarily experience the feelings we are experiencing to go into the conversation but we don’t want to have to deal with the discomfort of someone else’s emotional discomfort, the same eight unpleasant feelings. We don’t go after the conversation at all. I don’t want to deal with my unpleasant feelings and your unpleasant feelings but to have a conversation, that’s what it takes.

You mentioned earlier that people think that feelings last forever. They think that a feeling is going to last a long time when it’s only going to last 90 seconds. At the moment, 90 seconds can feel like an eternity. I do ice baths. They are cold. It’s only a couple of minutes but that couple of minutes seems like an eternity. What’s your take on people believing that their feelings last weeks, months or years?

In the book, I talked about three ways but I would add another two to that at this point. One is if we think about people, for instance, who have been together for a long time. Let’s say a death occurs, and people have been married for 45 or 60 years. What’s ended up happening in the brain is that the brain has established deeply embedded neural tracks. It’s used to a pattern and routine, and now all of a sudden, that routine no longer exists.

One of the reasons that something feels like it lingers is because the brain got that deeply embedded pathway for it to follow that you are familiar with. It’s going to take new routines and novel experiences enough time to replace whatever that deeply embedded neural track is. I would say that’s one reason it feels like stuff lingers because it’s familiar and literally built into your life.

The second reason I mentioned, and we already mentioned, was around trauma. Trauma encodes in the brain differently. It encodes in a different area of the brain. The way those memories can get pulled up is different than every day the way we process everyday experiences. A third is we try to shut it down. We go, “I’m not going to think about that.” If I tell you not to think of an elephant that is yellow and green striped, then to not think about that elephant with yellow and green stripes, you have to think about that elephant with yellow and gray stripes to not think about it. It gets paradoxical.

You think about the thing you don’t want to be thinking about more. That doesn’t work but it creates the quality of lingering. That’s thought suppression. The fourth is repeating a given memory or thought because, with that memory of thought, you are going to bring up everything that’s attached to it. If there are feelings attached to that particular thought or memory, then the more you repeat it, the more you are going to keep on bringing up that same thing, then it’s going to feel like stuff is lingering over a long time. The last, interestingly enough, my bias is that if you engage in harsh self-criticism, that creates an experience of lingering feeling.

What I’m hearing say is that if you put energy into it, it’s going to linger. It’s similar to what you put energy into grows. What we feed grows. Speaking about addiction, my experience is that the people that focus on not drinking like, “I’m going to not drink now. I’m not going to do a drug. I’m not going to do it,” those are the people that get drunk.

The people that stay sober are the people that focus on living a new life. It’s not daunting, like, “I got to stay clean and sober.” What they focus on is living an amazing life, living a new life, doing different things, new hobbies and interests, everything is different. It’s not like, “I got to quit doing drugs.” It’s the same thing.

It’s because you are replacing what was routine with new and novel experiences. You replace that enough times, and now your brain goes, “I have a different path to travel.” It goes down that path of the drinking path or whatever it might be. When you are caught in, “I don’t want to do something,” you are instructing the brain to do the very thing. For a lot of people, interestingly, the brain doesn’t process noes and nots well. If I say, “I’m not going to drink,” then the cue to the brain is, “I’m drinking.”

That’s what you are putting energy into.

ILBS S5 86 | Unpleasant Feelings

Unpleasant Feelings: So one of the reasons why feelings feel like they linger is because your brain deeply embedded a routine for it to follow. Once that routine is gone, it’ll take a while before a new routine replaces it.


The focus then needs to go on. My thing is that I always want people to state, think, speak, and take action in the direction they want their results to be. That means stating things in the positive. In this case, rather than saying, “I’m not going to drink now,” it’s saying something like, “It’s a beautiful sunny day. I’m going to take a bike ride. After that, I’m going to visit my friend, Tim. After that, I’m going to do three hours of work on X, Y, and Z. I’m looking forward to dinner with another friend.”

“I’m going to have an amazing day.” It’s not, “I’m not going to drink now.” That leads me to my next question. Having emotional strength is part of confidence as well. How does one develop emotional strength?

Interestingly, I have two elements of emotional strength. One of them we’ve already begun to talk about. That is that you feel more capable in the world. Think of it as feeling capable is part of emotional strength. That is tied to your ability to experience and move through those eight unpleasant feelings. Feeling capable, I can do those eight unpleasant feelings. That’s one part.

The second interestingly is what I call being resourceful. What is being resourceful? It’s about us accepting the dependent side of our nature, which means that we are in touch with our needs and limitations. When we are in touch with our needs and limitations, it moves us to a place where we can ask for help. The second part of emotional strength is being resourceful. If I make it simple, being resourceful is asking for help. Being able to handle unpleasant feelings and asking for help are the two things that create a sense of emotional strength.

It is knowing when I need help and being willing to ask for help.

That puts asking for help in the category of strength, not weakness.

That goes back to awareness.

I have a silly little story that fits this. I was probably in my early twenties and traveling alone. Nobody knew where I was. I was traveling to a city like Seattle at the time. That’s what I remember. It was old enough that there were no cellphones, and it was the time of still paper maps. The Thomas Guide or whatever. It might have been one of those AAA open up the big map.

There I was, trying to figure out my location. I wasn’t doing so well spatially. I started feeling vulnerable. I was like, “Nobody knows where I am. What if something bad happens?” I started a launch into this self-talk. What dawned on me is that if I were concerned that I could go far enough in terms of driving, even if I were lost, stop at the next grocery store, at the next gas station or someplace and then ask somebody for help. The moment that dawned on me, I totally calmed down.

It was like, “I got this,” but the, “I got this,” didn’t happen because I was doing it by myself. That sense of can-do it-ness, that sense of confidence that I can handle it, came about because I was willing to ask for help. I want people to see that asking for help is a huge element that contributes to confidence and a sense of emotional strength.

When you’re in touch with your needs and limitations, it moves you to a place where you can ask for help.

That goes back to anxiety when people are not willing to speak up.

If we want to dive down that path of anxiety.

Let’s go down the anxiety path. This is a good segue.

I’m not a big fan of the words, fear, and anxiety, despite the times we may be living in now. Do I understand that there is greater fear and greater anxiety? Yes. I will acknowledge that they exist as entities but in general, what I would love people to consider is a different way to look at that. Fear of psychology defines as a danger at the moment now. If you are not in danger at the moment, I would rather you not use the word fear because just by using the word, you activate that state in your body.

I want to note that Ken Richardson talks about fear being on a spectrum. It’s a concern, worry, anxiety, panic, and terror. Those are the different variations of fear. The only healthy form of fear is a concern. Everything else is toxic. I like the way you are talking about it. It’s just a different way. That was what I was taught. I’m reading some of the stuff that you’ve written about, and I’m looking forward to talking about it.

Fear is a danger at the moment. If we look at fear as a danger at the moment and you are not in danger, then let’s have you use a different word. If you are in danger, then I want your fear reaction because that’ll help you move to action. Fight, flight, that idea. I’m not taking the fear away. It’s just that I want it if you are not in danger, don’t use the word because it activates that state.

Fear, fake evidence appearing real. Normally, that’s the case. It has been my experience.

What would be the next thing people would say, “I’m anxious.” The truth is, as a clinician if I were to ask ten people what anxiety meant to them, I would typically get 8 to 10 different answers. The reality is that idea of what anxiety is it’s diffused concern or diffuse apprehension that something bad or a negative event is going to happen in the future.

It fits the situation, except I would get 8 to 10 different definitions. It’s too vague for me. I don’t know what people mean when they say that they are anxious. For me, it’s not useful. What I have found over time is that the first thing people are describing when they say they are anxious is that they feel vulnerable. There’s this sense that they could get hurt. What does hurt going to look like in general? It’s 1 or more of the 8 feelings.

Anxiety might be better classified as vulnerability. Vulnerability means that I might experience the other seven feelings. Vulnerability is 1 of the 8. Suddenly, I’ve named it more specifically, and it’s weird. It starts to calm people down. The first thing to think about is, “Am I really feeling vulnerable,” as opposed to anxious? “Do I have this sense that I could get hurt? I’m anticipating I might feel embarrassed or disappointed but I can handle that.” If you are aware that you can handle it, then the anxiety dissipates. It goes away.

ILBS S5 86 | Unpleasant Feelings

Unpleasant Feelings: If you can handle vulnerability, then you can handle anxiety. If you’re aware that you can handle it, then the anxiety kind of dissipates. It just goes away.


You are aware that its vulnerability. You also have the knowledge that you can handle this undesired emotional outcome If you are capable. it’s like, “I can go do this.” The other part of this is that what I’ve found is if it’s not a vulnerability, then it’s 1 or more of the other 7 feelings. There are many instances but this ties into yet another layer. There are many instances where somebody doesn’t want to experience and does not want to express what is their feeling towards somebody.

If I’m disappointed and angry at you for something that did or did not happen but I don’t want to tell you that I’m angry and disappointed that that thing did or did not happen, and I’m going to hold back and act like things are just peachy keen, then inside, I’m going to be feeling the anxiety but the anxiety is not anxiety. It’s anger and disappointment.

When I think of not wanting to tell somebody something because of the way they are going to react, I think of it being fear.

We are talking about vulnerability and anxiety. It’s not fear. It’s vulnerability.

On the continuum, it’s the same. Can we associate anxiety with the physical?

Absolutely. Does it have a bodily sensation to it? Yes. People will talk about butterflies in their stomachs, tingling, and all sorts of things. Does it have a biological correlate? The thing that I want people to start to ask themselves is, “Is it anxiety or could it be 1 or more of these 8 unpleasant feelings that I don’t want to experience and don’t want to express?” If I had an awareness of that, then it tends to dissipate and go, “It’s the sadness or the disappointment I just don’t want to express.”

I love the process. It makes it simple for people. It’s 1 of the awareness to the 8 of unpleasant feelings.

Let me give two definitions, and then let me give you the approach. Another way to look at anxiety is that anxiety is a cover for the eight unpleasant feelings. It’s an umbrella. It’s covering up the eight feelings. The second way to look at it is that anxiety is unexperienced and unexpressed feeling. It’s like, “How do I change up my experience of anxiety if I’m somebody that would identify myself as an anxious person?” I would say you remove any word that sounds like fear, apprehension, and anxiety. You take those words out of your language. Instead, try to notice whether you are feeling vulnerable or 1 or more of the other 7 feelings and notice what happens when you do that.

What should they notice happen?

That they feel calmer and are more in touch with the actual feeling that’s going on. They can get clear about whether they want to follow through and express what’s going on.

In order to put tough experiences behind you, you need to make sense of the impact and meaning they had on you across time.

Let’s talk about speaking up. We started talking about speaking up. People are always being encouraged to speak up or be assertive, yet many people have a hard time doing so. What stands in the way of a person’s ability to speak up with greater ease?

Again, circling back, for me, it’s that I don’t want to handle my emotional discomfort or handle the discomfort of your emotional discomfort, which is what a conversation requires or in difficult or challenging conversations require. That’s why people don’t speak up. It’s not a speaking problem. It’s I don’t want to deal with the unpleasant feeling problem. It cuts across not just the unpleasant side of the experience but cuts across the pleasant side too.

If I want to tell you how much I like you, how much I want to spend more time with you, how much I love you, then I have to be vulnerable enough to be willing to say that to you and to experience the possibility that it’s not reciprocated, which might lead me into disappointment, sadness or embarrassment. It cuts across pleasant and unpleasant feelings in terms of what I’m talking about here.

When I say, “I love you,” to someone, you can say, “I love you or I love you, man.” When you say, “I love you, man,” it waters it down. It’s not as vulnerable and genuine. It’s less risky.

My thing then with speaking is that speaking is not a speaking problem. Speaking is, “I don’t want to deal with the unpleasant feeling” problem. How do we get over it? Same thing. It’s understanding that you put yourself in the position of feeling vulnerable. You have a sense that you can handle the emotional outcome, even if it’s an undesired one. What’s that going to look like? One or more of the other seven feelings. You go into conversations going, “I can handle the unpleasant feelings if they arise and will ride those bodily sensation waves of those feelings if they occur.”

What’s also interesting to me here is that we get lost in this idea of the goal of speaking up because most of us see the reason we speak up is to get what we want. I will tell you earlier in my psychology career that was my mindset. Now I don’t think of that. I think getting what we want is the benefit of speaking up but it’s surely not the goal of speaking up.

What would you say is the goal of speaking up?

It’s to grow us. Every time I use my voice in a particular way to connect with people, to set a limit, to ask for what I want, to express an idea, whatever it might be, it’s evolving me as a person. Now I see the reason for speaking up is to grow us. The benefit of speaking up is getting what we want.

I would add to that. I would say that the benefit of speaking up is also being a good example and of service and showing other people how to be responsible, not be a victim. It’s not all about Tim. It’s about all of the people that are around me. I think about my sister, her kids, and what they went through some tough times. Those kids are watching their mother and how their mother is either speaking up or not speaking up and making it through a difficult situation and leaning into it because if her kids see her lean into the situation and conversations, then they see how it’s done. “That’s how it’s done. I can do it,” which leads back to confidence.

What develops the confidence is finding that you can say the things that you need to say and deal with the emotional outcome of it, and then being able to go, “That strengthened me.” Once you realize that you can make your way through difficult stuff, that’s the thing that’s the strengthening element of building confidence.

ILBS S5 86 | Unpleasant Feelings

Unpleasant Feelings: Most people see the reason for speaking up is to get what they want. That is not the goal, that’s the benefit. The real goal of speaking up is to grow and evolve as a person.


Your comfort zone grows. Every time you do something a little bit harder, a little bit outside of your comfort zone, your comfort zone grows, and then you do something else that’s outside of your comfort zone, and your comfort zone grows. Moving on to the next thing here, I want to talk about grief. You say grief is the pathway to forgiveness. Talk to me about that for a little bit.

This one is a little bit more complex and has to do with a person’s willingness to make sense of difficult life experiences. The key here for me is, first of all, to understand what I’m describing as grief. Grief, for me, is at the minimum, including feelings of sadness, helplessness, anger, and disappointment. An easy way to remember it is to think SHAD instead of sad, Sadness, Hopelessness, Anger, and Disappointment.

Those, at least at a minimum, comprise grief. When we go through difficult life experiences to make our way through them and be able to put them behind us or let them be part of the narrative of who we are, we need to make sense of the impact and meaning that those experiences had on us across time. Making sense equals understanding the impact, meaning or the influence any given life experience had on us at the time in which the experience, the situation, or event occurred as we aged and then now.

The bottom-line question here is, “Who did I become because of what I went through?” In my mind, it’s doing it through an arc of time. Ultimately, it’s understanding the answers to those questions and then extracting the good if there’s some good that may have come from it. That’s the point at which we would forgive.

For example, I have a friend. Him and his girlfriend just broke up. He’s grieving and hurting. This is not what he wanted. Explain to me how he should be processing how he can get to the other side.

In this case, if we are talking about a more immediate thing, the thing I’m talking about has to do with experiences that have happened probably less recently but in terms of current grief, then it means staying present to those four feelings. In this case, it might involve crying a lot. Profound grief has spontaneous crying that comes with it. It feels like it comes out of nowhere. It means to be willing to step in and let yourself move through those waves of sadness or disappointment. In this case, that kind of grief means being well connected to other people so that you are not entirely alone in the process.

Somebody else can bear witness to the pain through and through, and because you are connected to someone else, just that connection can be soothing in and of itself or they can help you make sense of what took place or what might be going on. Over time, it may be, again, building new routines. It was something that may occur and new connections, new routines. In this case, it’s also learning what might contribute if it wasn’t an actual death but was a separation or a loss of a relationship.

If you lose a relationship or a job, something is more.

It’s dealing with those feelings of loss that are tied to loss. It’s again, “How do I want to go through this?” You can still ask those same questions, which contributes to resilience. It might be, “This is damn hard, but I’m going to go through this anyway. I know I’m going through it. It’s damn hard. Who am I going to be in this situation? What can I learn from this situation? You can ask yourself questions that prompt more resilience for you to move yourself through the experience of grief like that.

You can have attitudes that can help you stay through and move your way through grief by even going, “I have been through breakups before. I have been through job losses before. I’ve handled it before. I can persevere and handle it again.” There are ways that we can talk to ourselves, think, and be with people that will make a difference in terms of helping us be more resilient in those situations.

ILBS S5 86 | Unpleasant Feelings

90 Seconds To A Life You Love: How To Master Your Difficult Feelings To Cultivate Lasting Confidence, Resilience, And Authenticity

It’s the human connection. It’s not isolating. When we are dealing with loss and are isolating, that’s not helpful.

It makes everything worse.

I don’t want to talk to anybody if I’m grieving. I want to isolate. That’s what I want to do. I know that that’s when I need to pick up the phone, go to a meeting, and be around people.

The notion of contrary reaction.

We are coming up at the end of this interview. Is there a question you wanted me to ask you? If so, what would that question be?

No, you’ve done exceptionally. We are good. There’s lots of stuff to cover.

Where can people find you? How can they learn more about you? is probably the easiest. The book is on Amazon, or I should say Barnes & Noble or any place you get books. If you punch in my name, there are Ted Talks and other things that I’ve done. My website would be the starting point.

That does it for our time with Dr. Joan Rosenberg. If you learn something that resonates with you, please share it in the comment section of YouTube, Facebook or LinkedIn. Every comment counts, and what you share could resonate with someone else that is struggling and potentially save them and their life. Go ahead, and share the one thing that resonated with you in the review section or the comment section.

It will take 60 seconds out of your day. What you share could not only save you but could also save someone’s life. That does it for this episode. I hope that our paths cross again in the next episode of I Love Being Sober. Dr. Joan Rosenberg, thank you so much. I enjoyed our time. I hope you have a wonderful rest of your day.

Thank you so much, Tim. Me, too.


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About Joan Rosenberg, Phd

ILBS S5 86 | Unpleasant Feelings

Joan I. Rosenberg, PhD, creator of Emotional Mastery™ and Emotional Mastery Training™, is a highly regarded expert psychologist, master clinician, trainer and consultant. As a cutting edge psychologist who is known as an innovative thinker, trainer and speaker, Joan has shared her life-changing ideas and models for emotional mastery, change and personal growth in professional and educational seminars, psychotherapy sessions and graduate psychology teaching.



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