Why Doesn’t That Difficult Emotion Go Away? 25 Reasons + Solutions

by Caroline van Kimmenade

At heart, emotions are not meant to make you suffer. They are not meant to be with you for years and years on end just to “make you feel bad”. However, emotions are persistent. They have a loving agenda for you. They are there for a reason and so, if you don’t unwrap the gift that your emotions are trying to give you, then they simply won’t leave!

What this means is that, when you feel stuck with an uncomfortable emotion, you have some learning to do. There is something important that you’re not “getting”.

If this is you, you’re not alone, at all. Mental health – as the name implies – is mostly focused on thoughts, not feelings! There are still many many people who are absolutely convinced that emotions are “just” the result of thoughts and that if you change your thoughts, you can change your emotions too. While this is partly true for those with lots of negative thinking habits, it’s not true overall.

Your emotions truly are a world of their own and this is a good thing! They have a language, a language of wisdom and they truly want to give you the energy you need, to do what you need to do. Nevertheless, most of us are barely taught anything useful about emotions growing up. Often, we also have to unlearn many fears and untruths that we’ve absorbed from our parents about how they (don’t) deal with how they are truly feeling.

As a result, here are 25 possible reasons your emotions don’t leave + solutions! (please note: this is a long article! You may want to skim and read the parts that stand out most to you for now and then read more later)

1. You’re not sure what the emotion is

Each emotion has its own process. For example, grief is different from guilt. When you don’t know what the emotion is, it’s hard to know how to process it. You may experience lots of body symptoms and not realize that many of those are emotions in disguise. Or you may feel something you don’t like, but not be able to pinpoint what it is exactly. That’s o.k., yet in order to have a good relationship with your emotions, it’s important to develop (advanced) emotional literacy. This is a skill you can learn.

I teach my clients different skills for identifying and processing their emotions. I too had to learn this the hard way once. For us Highly Sensitive People it’s really important to deeply understand how we feel and what those emotions are trying to show us. How we feel deep down inside is a big part of what propels us through life. Struggling in this area can lead to all kinds of complicated road blocks, lack of energy and unnecessary fears.

Want to do a deep dive into this topic right away? Check out the Happy Sensitive Library‘s “Difficult Feelings Made Easier” section. It’s full of detailed classes on how to process different specific emotions, and what those emotions are really about.

Or set up a call with me in person so I can check for you what emotions (or other phenomena) you are dealing with. Yes, I have ways to check this for you intuitively!

2. Oops! You have learned to let your thoughts amplify the emotion…

It’s easy to get caught in the “confirmation loop”. You feel angry, so you look for reasons in your mind to justify the anger, and then focusing on all those (endless) reasons makes you more angry. (It’s easy, just go and read something about politics and voila, you have a “good reason” to be angry!). All the while, the anger may truly be about something entirely different though!

In processing emotions, it’s important to dive to the bottom of what is going on, and not keep creating new waves. You want to feel through the emotion as-is, not keep adding to it on the surface.

(Confirmation Loops apply to all emotions. E.g. you feel hopeless, you see all the things out in the world that confirm your sense of hopelessness, and now you feel more hopeless)

3. You get stuck in trying to figure it out in your head

The mind likes to figure things out, but at heart, your emotions can’t be figured out. Instead, they need to be felt, which is a process the mind doesn’t understand.

Many HSPs have learned to live up in their head as much as possible. There are many many reasons for this, but one of those reasons is having internalized an utter distrust of the body and feelings, and too much trust in the mind and thinking. Our whole society is structured that way by the way: prioritizing “rational thought” over “crazy and unreliable feelings”. I have a whole article about that here.

Funnily enough, few people seem to realize how it’s the mind that can get all crazy going round and round in circles, while the body is trying to get you to focus on the one thing that is important to understand right here right now!

4. You get stuck seeking confirmation from others for how you feel

If you have great friends that see life the way you do, getting some confirmation for how you feel is probably easy peasy. If so, great! You feel that way, they would feel that way in your shoes, it all makes sense!

However, even if you do have great friends, their experience still won’t be the exact same as yours and it’s inevitable that sometimes, they won’t understand how you feel.

And that’s if you have great friends. Having great friends is not a given (and there’s nothing wrong with you if you don’t have great friends right now).

The point is, while it’s great to hear someone say “I get it, that’s valid” this kind of support is actually not necessary for moving on and processing how you feel.


Ultimately, your emotions have their own rhyme and reason and it’s 100% possible to process them on your own, even if everyone else thinks you’re bonkers for feeling that way.

Other people often don’t see or experience the world the way you do. By looking for confirmation “out there” you end up systematically doubting yourself and your feelings. So then, instead of just feeling your feelings, you get stuck thinking about whether it makes sense to feel them at all.

Here’s the thing though: you don’t need outer confirmation. You need to know what you feel and learn how to go inside to the root of that, to understand it. This will give you the confirmation and security you’re really looking for.

I know I know, all that is easier said than done. Take a look at the “Difficult Feelings Made Easier” section in the Happy Sensitive Library for lots of practical support. Or set up a call here so I can help you out in person.

5. You’re looking for permission to feel how you feel

If you read number 4 and something in you went: “Nah, I can’t just decide it’s o.k. to feel that way all by myself!” then you may be stuck because you’re conditioned to look for permission first.

Hopefully, this sounds crazy to most people reading this. Why would anyone think they need “permission” to feel how they feel? Well, congrats! I guess you didn’t grow up in an emotionally abusive environment! Those who did, know that it was the abusive authority in the house who got to decide if you were even allowed to have your feelings. And if not, well, you learned to just shut it or pretend you didn’t feel that way.

Yet actually, your emotions are here for you, not for others. It’s really nobody else’s business!

If diving into your feelings feels scary or “not allowed” somehow, there may have been something about the way you were raised that is getting in the way. If so, it’s time to work through that and reclaim how you truly feel.

6. You’ve been punished a lot for how you felt

I just said under number 5, that how you feel is nobody else’s business. Yet, not everyone agrees with me on that! There are plenty of emotionally abusive people who think that your lack of joy or perfectly timed outrage, signals massive disrespect.

To people like that, emotions are a theatre. A spectacle of loyalty.


And then there are others who are micro-hunting for the smallest signs of disappointment, disagreement or disapproval and turn that into a massive drama. You’re not allowed to have your private feelings unless you have a perfect pokerface about it. Otherwise, everything you feel is their business and “hurts them deeply”.


If you’ve been around people like this a lot, you may have learned that you need to “present” yourself in a pleasing way. So much so that it feels unsafe to just feel whatever spontaneously arises.

If this is you, it will take some inner work to be able to allow your feelings to surface fully. Chances are, whatever you think you’re feeling is just the (polite and muted) tip of the iceberg!

7. You’re getting “expert advice” from Emotion-Phobes

It’s disheartening to see how many “experts” devise and teach endless processes designed to minimize, avoid, squash and deny emotions. All because these “experts” are terrified of actually feeling their feelings themselves!

Much of what is considered “enlightened” or “spiritual” has strangely enough become synonymous with a kind of robotic, detached and arrogant “being above it all”. (I wrote a relevant article on this here with specific pointers)

Feeling requires you to be IN it, not above it.


8. You confuse feeling with acting out

If you think “feeling” means screaming at others, making a scene, finding someone to blame, marching like an activist etc. then understandably, you often won’t want to feel.

However, none of all that is feeling.

Feeling can be intense, but it can be done quietly, privately. You can truly feel anything without acting out in any way. However, if you’ve never worked this kind of feeling muscle before, it can seem very foreign and impossible. As a result, you may push your feelings down to avoid acting out, and by pushing it all down, you never process it, which means those feelings linger forever.

9. You don’t go deeeeeeeep enough

A feeling is like a potato. If you only eat half of it, the other half stays on the plate.

Feeling your difficult feelings fully takes guts. If you leave the last few bites because they are too intimidating, then that part of the feeling will linger on.

10. You try to work through your feelings by thinking and talking about them

Being a verbal processor is fine. Yet, you cannot process your feelings by endlessly talking about them.

Talking is not feeling.

Talking is talking.


11. You try to use your “spiritual vision” to decipher your feelings

Many folks with clairvoyance, or those with the ability to “see” internally, prefer to try and see what the emotion looks like in the body instead of experiencing it. Seeing is clean and neat. Feeling is messy.

As a rule of thumb: if you’re not uncomfortable at all while feeling difficult feelings, then you’re not feeling them, you’re doing something else. When you’re doing something else, the feelings don’t leave.

Imagine it like eating your vegetables. You want the vegetables to get off your plate? You have to eat them. No amount of taking photos of them, staring at them, making beautiful sketches of them or talking about which countries they remind you of…is going to make them go away.

12. You’ve learned to try and explain away your feelings

The mind can be a tricky ally. It can seem easier to find endless reasons why you shouldn’t feel or don’t need to feel what you’re feeling, than it is to just feel it. Society teaches this too, all the time. “Don’t cry” “Don’t get mad” “Don’t worry”.

Telling someone else how (not) to feel may be well intended, but it doesn’t help them. It’s better to say that it’s o.k. to cry, and “I understand that it worries you, let’s look for some solutions”.

We need to socially get better at accepting each others feelings, instead of trying to minimize them to “avoid awkwardness”.

Whether your emotions are fair, make sense, or are socially acceptable is completely beside the point. They are your emotions. They are here to teach you something that only feeling can teach you.

13. Attempting Magical Erasure

Whatever you’re feeling, the thing that made you feel that way already happened. Accepting this makes feeling easier. You’re not preventing harm by avoiding your feelings.

Yet, there is a part of the mind that believes that if you don’t feel it, then the event can still be changed. That by rejecting the emotion, you can reject the event that led to the hurt. Like a magical time machine – holding off on feeling the feeling will allow you to go back in time and prevent bad things from happening.

In the end, all this is an understandable, but futile attempt to try and pretend to have control over something that already took place. It’s like refusing to look at your credit card statements and trying to convince yourself that as long as you don’t look, your bills don’t exist.

14. You see your emotions as inconveniences, not teachers

In the end, you feel something because your body is trying to explain something to you. She’s saying: that person is crossing your boundaries. Or, this is not a good use of your time. Sometimes, in feeling the feeling, you get the message instantly, other times, you have to learn some new frameworks or dig a little deeper to understand why you feel what you feel.

However, in getting to that point, you have to accept that your mind doesn’t know everything. YOU don’t know everything. Your emotions are inviting you to discover something new. For some people this is easier than for others. If you are an utter utter control freak, then you will struggle a lot with this process because you have to let go of what you think the feeling is about, and just dive in and be open to discover something new along the way.

15. You keep doing the same painful thing

Your emotions are teachers, but if you just sit in class, nod your head and then go out into the world making the same mistake over and over, then those emotions will come back over and over too.

Difficult emotions often bring difficult truths. Not every relationship can be saved. Not every job is doable. Not every thing that needs doing, can be done by you, at the speed that you’d like.

Emotions teach us about our (im)possibilities, our boundaries, our inconvenient truths. Listening to them often also involves acting on them. Meaning: you feel and listen first, then when you understand the message, you calmly decide what changes to make in how you live your life. When you go through all those steps, the difficult emotion will truly disappear, because it’s fulfilled its purpose.

Helpful Happy Sensitive Library classes on this topic:

Forgiveness – it’s not about love! Learn the 5 Forgiveness Outcomes, the 3 Forgiveness Steps, and the true core of forgiveness (most forgiveness processes get this wrong, which is why there is no true closure!), so that you can finally move on. Details and instant access here.

Difficult Feelings Made Easier Learn the unconventional ins and outs about your difficult “icky” feelings, and how they are secretly trying to help you make your life better. Details and instant access here in the Happy Sensitive Library.

16. You’re attempting a (misguided) power move

If you grew up in a narcissistic family, then you will have learned that showing or acknowledging your feelings meant showing weakness. Heck, even admitting that something affected you at all, meant admitting defeat!

Trying to be “unmoved” by mean things or outright abuse was the only way to somewhat “get back” at others and maintain your self-respect. Yet, at what cost? At the end of the day, narcissism is a toxic mindset and life-approach. Who cares what the bullies think of you? What matters is that you heal and can truly move on from the past (and boot out the people who don’t deserve to be in your life). This can only happen though when you can admit when something hurts you.

Admitting that something hurts is important because it keeps you connected to yourself. It allows you to take measures to truly protect yourself. When you pretend you’re fine to avoid ridicule from others, then you’re stuck with a bigger mess: you stop noticing your true needs and you lose touch with who you really are.

The best way to get back at bullies is to live a full, meaningful life. You don’t do that by trying to win their game or taking their scoring rules into account. Ignore their game, feel your feelings.

17. Your emotions are pointing to subtle energy events that you don’t have the mental framework for

When someone is cutting in front of you, and you feel angry, it’s easy to understand what caused what. However, when someone is energetically throwing blame at you (from across the country) and you’re not even communicating with them at the moment, how are you supposed to know that that is why you’re feeling angry?

When you have a sensitive body, you may have a body that is very sensitive to energy phenomena too. If so, your body will react to those energy phenomena the same as she would to more tangible events. If this is happening for you, then you need tools and frameworks to be able to decipher what the heck is going on. Otherwise, your body will keep trying to warn you about something (via an emotion) but you won’t be able to do anything about it because you don’t know what is going on, at all.

Does this ring a bell for you? Set up a Clarity Call with me here so I can help you identify what is going on and what to do about it.

18. Some of it isn’t yours!

If you’re an empath, then you have a tendency to absorb painful emotions from others. Despite what the cool kids may call it these days, that’s what a true empath is: someone who carries around energies from others, to their own detriment and confusion!

These are emotions that you can’t process, no matter how hard you try because these emotions are not meant for you! As a result, no amount of regular therapeutic processes will help, at all. To let go of these emotions you need to learn energy healing tools that help you identify what’s yours and what is not, and that let you get all the energy that isn’t yours out of your system. I teach all this here.

19. You’re all up in everyone else’s business

Many sensitive people struggle with keeping to themselves – energetically. This has nothing to do with being an introvert or not!

As a Highly Sensitive Person it’s very important to know where your internal focus is pointed. If you have strong intuition then it will likely be easy for you to tune into other people. Cool right? Except, is it any of your business? Plus, more importantly perhaps, are you aware of when and how you’re pointing your focus at others, to snoop around / investigate / try to help?

Many intuitive, sensitive people I talk to who feel overwhelmed by others and by emotions, have literally no idea how often they are energetically scoping out other people’s issues. They don’t know how super easy it is for them to gather intel about others intuitively, instantly.

However, when you habitually leave your own energetic “home” space to intuitively check out what someone else is up to, you will get a big whiff of other people’s emotions too. When you have a habit of scoping out the neighborhood like this on autopilot, then it will seem like you’re “stuck” with all these overwhelming strange emotions. Actually though, you’re not stuck with them, you’re actively seeking them out without realizing! You’re literally visiting other people’s drama.

All this goes for empaths too by the way: the more intuitive and sensitive you are, the more important it is to learn to ground properly and stay put in your own space. The world is too big and there are too many problems to be in the know about. Just like you’d get stressed listening to the news 24/7, you’ll also get stressed tuning in to other people all the time.

Does this hit home? If so, you can get my self-study kit to turn this around. It’s called the Energy Sensitivity Starter Kit. (I also recommend the quick course “How to Stop Getting Overwhelmed in Crowded Spaces” as well as “How to Figure out if you’re an Empath” – if you’d like to know that is.) They’re all instantly available in the Happy Sensitive Library here.

20. Your own stress cycles are a bit of a mystery to you

Many people have a “go to” worry. This is the thing you get worked up about when you’re stressed. When you’re not stressed, you either don’t think about it, or don’t really worry about it.

As a Highly Sensitive Person, it’s important to understand your own stress responses because you simply will get stressed more quickly and easily than most people. The only way to counter that is to understand your own stress responses better and intervene early.

Stress responses are not just about your worries, they include all the emotions. You may go from being irritated to breaking down crying. There could be a buildup of hopelessness and powerlessness. Or perhaps you worry, worry, worry and then get explosively angry.

Your emotions may be trying to alert you to stress building up. If you don’t realize that’s the case (most people don’t) then it can feel like random emotions are coming at you out of the blue. I have an article and video on this here.

21. It’s all jumbled up together

You have a big ball of different emotions stuck together, with (perhaps) energies from others even. Throw some stuck beliefs in there, some chronic dissociation and you have a big ball of ick that is hard to identify and process.

If you have a big ball of ick like this I can release it for you in a Trauma Healing (details here). Or, I can teach you how to identify all the pieces and work through them yourself. Set up a time to talk with me here so we can work out what would work best for you.

22 Your emotions are fed by a deep stuck belief

Beliefs and emotions influence each other both ways. If you are not feeling something you need to feel… chances are you are having a lot of thoughts with that exact “emotional flavor”.

On the other end of the spectrum, if you have a deep-seated belief that you are crazy, or wrong or that the world is unsafe, then that will make you feel a certain way all the time.

Chronic beliefs become filters through which we experience the world. They are not “just thoughts” and as such, can’t simply be changed by thinking differently. Instead, they are held deep in the body and need to be released as the deeply lodged energies that they are.

If you think you may have some stuck beliefs like this, I can release them for you in a Trauma Healing Session (details here). If you’re interested in learning advanced energy healing work then I can also teach you how to do this yourself (it will take significant time and practice though!). Interested? Set up time to talk with me here.

23. Complex inner conditioning is recreating a life you don’t want, over and over

It sucks to feel stuck.

Our emotional and mental insides are – in some ways – like a phone with lots of apps. If you keep downloading new apps and never delete any… at some point it starts to negatively affect the functioning of your phone.

For example, you saw how much it hurts to abandon someone, and vowed never to do this yourself. You also learned to take responsibility for everyone’s problems – because someone needs to fix it! – and you learned that asking for help and saying no are awful things to do. The result? You keep ending up in situations that are too much for you. You’re trying to fix it all – but can’t. Your friends are chronic victims – but you vowed to never abandon them so now you’re stuck trying to make their life better against all odds…

Someone else – with different conditioning – could step into that scenario and just: stop helping, leave the friends who aren’t really friends (yes, “abandon” them!) and create a whole new next step in life.

Yet, when you have very strict, stuck conditioning, what happens? You may feel endlessly hopeless, or panicky. Somewhere deep inside you can conceive of a different way to live, but when you contemplate that, all your inner rules and obligations just make that feel impossible! So you go back to feeling hopeless, sad, resentful, powerless, confused etc etc with no end in sight.


If you’re feeling stuck and it feels complicated but you truly want to let go, I can probably help you in a Trauma Healing Session. We’d have a conversation first to discuss your situation and assess what the best plan forward is for you. You can get all the details on this here.

24. You translate a rainbow of emotions into a few “acceptable” ones

You have a few emotions you either learned growing up were acceptable, or you’re comfortable with those emotions because they feel easiest to be with. Whenever you feel anything, you convince yourself that it’s one of these few emotions, when most of the time, it’s not.

When you’re trying to process a “masking emotion” so to say, instead of the real emotion, it won’t work. Your feelings won’t shift.

A common version of all this for women is to cry – even if you feel anger, or something else. Why? Because crying (for women at least) in considered a socially acceptable emotion. Hence, you may have learned to always express tears, even if that’s not truly what you’re feeling!

This habit can get so deeply rooted that you think you’re sad (because you’re crying after all!) and you don’t realize something else is going on. What you’ll notice though is that the crying may bring sympathy from others, but no true inner relief.

25. You’re convinced you’re enlightened and there’s nothing more for you to feel

Ahahahahaahaaaahahhaaaaahaaaaah haaaahaaaaahaaaaahaa!


25 Ways to be busy without making emotional progress!

All in all, you can spend a lot of time doing lots of things that have something to do with what you’re feeling… without actually feeling your feelings.

If some of the points in the list above ring a bell for you, chances are, you’ve been very busy in the past, doing something that didn’t actually get you through a difficult feeling. As a result you may have felt frustrated and like it was taking forever!

However, when you truly feel a feeling fully, listen to what it’s trying to tell you and take action, even big feelings that seem impossible to get through can leave quickly! I have had many clients who – with some prep and practice – were able to work through several big emotions in just an hour of coaching. These were feelings they’d been avoiding in one way or another all month. (Sometimes, they’d been avoiding these feelings all their life!)

In the end, it’s not the feeling work that is so hard, rather it’s staying focused on the things that actually help, and not spinning your wheels in some well-intended ineffective strategies.

The Wisdom of True Emotional Literacy

True feeling requires surrender. It requires that you stop trying to know it all and instead become open to experience and explore. It’s like getting into a little boat, on a river. You can learn to steer the boat better, but you don’t control the river. The river is what it is and does what it does.

Your emotions too are what they are and do what they do. Your emotions will keep piping up until you feel them but there are endless ways and processes and “tips and tricks” out there to shove those emotions out of sight. If you do this over and over again, they don’t go away. They will however seem to disappear for a while, only to get very loud and overwhelming at some point (possibly in the form of mysterious physical symptoms later in life).

As a Highly Sensitive Person, it is crucial that you be truly emotionally literate. And this is an ongoing process! I’ve worked with so many people who were convinced that they were just fine at feeling their feelings… until a bigger and darker version of those feelings came to the surface.

In the world of true emotional intelligence, every time you “graduate”, you get a gnarlier version of something to process. You can handle basic grief? Great! Now progress to the next level and have a go at a more complex yet similar emotion.

How your body is trying to help you heal emotionally

Your body isn’t an inanimate bag of meat and bones. Time and time again I find that bodies are very very involved in the process of healing. Your body is very good at allowing the things that you can process to surface, and keeping everything else under wraps, for now. But even an exceptionally kind and helpful body can’t store your emotions forever.

This is why it’s so important to practice, and never to assume that you’re “done” feeling your feelings. Chances are, you’re still doing a practice run for something bigger and more impactful beneath the surface.

As ominous as all this may sound, really we’re just working our way backwards through time. Life throws a lot of ish your way, and to truly be in a good place, you need to be able to work your way through all of it. Anything that was emotionally too much to process way back when goes into the “CELLar” (get it? cells & cellar).

That cellar is a part of you. It affects your life (even if you pretend that the cellar doesn’t exist). Your spiritual job is not to build a fancy high-tech control tower on top of the house, but instead to go down the stairs and clean out the cellar.

The reward? You get to reconnect with the beautiful parts of yourself that got lost along the way, you find direction where you felt lost before, you become more grounded, balanced, resilient and intuitive and you know what you need and what to do next.

Does your life feel emotionally overwhelming? Do you recognize some of the points in this article? Do you want to stop going round in circles and learn the most straightforward path forward? Set up a call to get emotional clarity here.

Share to spread the happy sensitive inspiration
Share on facebook
Share on email
Share on twitter
Share on google
Share on pinterest
Share on print

Leave a Comment

Please keep comments on topic. All comments are moderated to avoid spam postings.

Previous post:

Next post: