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How To Process & Release Emotions [Step-by-step plan]

How To Process & Release Emotions [Step-by-step plan]

How can you express, process and heal emotions and old pain instead of bottling them up? How can you permanently let go of old emotions from the past, such as old pain? Here you will learn all the steps & exercises to express your feelings so that your emotional blockages are broken free…

Contents of this page:


Important: we want to let go of old, unprocessed emotions

Just a double check to be absolutely clear: emotions are great! We just want to live with emotions that happen in the here and now. Old emotions from the past are a different story: we are not going to live with old emotions. It is good to process those emotions. You will learn that in this article.

In the following sections you will find a lot of tips, techniques and exercises to really feel your emotions and to break through and remove old emotional blocks. This brings you back into contact with your feelings, which has a therapeutic and healing effect.

Processing negative emotions and fears: step by step

There are several methods of letting go, and they all boil down to the same three steps :

  1. Becoming aware of the emotion.
  2. Fully accepting the emotion, giving and feeling love.
  3. Letting go of the emotion.

In short: we get started with awareness, compassion and just feeling good. Now let’s dive into all three steps:

[Step 1 – becoming aware that the (old) emotion is there]

processing emotions

How can you deal with emotions? It all starts with noticing the emotion. Do you want to process and release old / negative emotions? Half the work is awareness .

If you’re wondering how to handle an old emotion, this indicates that you are mindful enough to the negative state of your own mind recognize . That is already difficult, so congratulations if you have already come this far!

Step 1 is therefore awareness that that emotion is there and you are already at 80%. For example, ‘fear’ is present and you know that now. Fantastic! On to step 2 …

[Step 2 – fully accepting and feeling the emotion: expressing the emotion]

This is the process of accepting your feelings. Old / negative emotions should not just be dismissed, but must be acknowledged and given the space to release the pressure . If you suppress an old feeling, it will later express itself in some (physical) way, because at a chemical level emotions are pure energy.

Can you face this raw life energy? Are you just going to feel these emotions right now ?  As they manifest in this moment? Then at some point they burn up, because you have felt them completely ‘gone’. In short: this could mean that you are going to cry a lot.

Feeling is the keyword. Do not deal with painful and traumatic emotions in a logical way, such as simply saying that you feel depression. That is not enough. Be open to the emotions that you ‘depress’.

Haven’t had a breakthrough yet? The reason is always: you still stay in your head …

We are often afraid to really feel it, so we get into our minds to justify things, avoiding the real trauma feelings and not giving them attention and love …

Feel it. Feel what you don’t want to feel. Feel it and be free.
– Nayyirah Waheed

Do not process them with your mind, but feel! Wrap them in a space of love and compassion. You can do this meditative activity with the techniques later in this article. Just be present with the emotions in the moment. Meditate and be there for yourself. With love, compassion and patience. Not to get rid of it, but to love it.

Feelings and emotions are part of life. Loneliness, sadness and rejection are part of life. And you have to feel them, because then they clean you inside.

Stick to your pain. Without trying to change, fix, numb or lose it. Deeply acknowledge what is there, greet it, honor its existence, listen to it, and sink into its mystery. Make the radical decision never to turn away from it again. They are your own children.

Sadness is just love in a strange disguise.
– Jeff Foster

The pain can finally be seen and cannot be pushed away. If you don’t see the trauma in yourself, allow it and envelop it with love, then your ego wants to feel okay about who it is through outside approval, or worse, it wants other people to feel trauma, which makes you negative towards others to.

The ego / mind will sometimes come in and resist because otherwise it means the death of that story it developed in order to avoid the real trauma. And that’s okay too. It means dying for that story but living for all that you are.

If you don’t love your own pain, you need others to give you love. Give your pain love, and now you can also understand why other people do certain things and you can also be a space of compassion and patience for them.

If you feel defeated and miserable, don’t pretend you are spiritually superior. Just sit down and you can cry. You may feel miserable. Don’t even deny suffering. Otherwise you are deceiving yourself. Also give it time: a week, a month or however long it takes. And just surrender yourself to the suffering during that time. This is part of life. There is nothing wrong with that.
– Paulo Coelho

It is beautifully described in the book:  ‘The noble art of not giving af * ck’: sometimes it just isn’t allowed to go well. Stop motivating and boosting and stop worrying about feeling down. Otherwise you will feel gloomy twice, through two layers.

Feel the emotion without adding extra layers, such as judgments, thoughts or a second layer of emotions.

Depressed? Embrace him and love him just the way he is. Sit together with the depression in silence. Say yes to it. Accept it and make it feel ‘worse’: make it as strong as possible by allowing it all in. Accept that sometimes it is just bad. Don’t feel bad anymore for feeling bad. That’s a second layer  we don’t want.

Don’t be concerned that you are concerned. And when you do that, and you start to hate it again, then you are concerned because you are concerned because you are concerned. That is ‘the vicious circle of hell’. Rather than resist worrying, just worry! Instead of resisting suffering, just suffer!

Fortunately, you can safely look at a past negative emotion and experience with various techniques, but you will really have to look at it in order to learn from it and to take the pressure off the kettle. How can you remove a tumor if you don’t know where it is at first? You can perform this step in several ways. Read on to discover all those steps …

processing emotions

Way 1 – Simply fully accept, invite, allow and feel the emotion

  • Accept  the emotions you observe.
  • Feel the emotions.
  • Channel the emotions by admitting them once and for all.
  • Note that you may begin to cry and tears may appear.

By doing all of that, we are processing the emotion. Because we are accepting it.

If you allow the emotion, the emotion says: “Then I will let you go.”

You don’t always have to be happy. You don’t always have to be silly or funny. You don’t have to be nothing. When you find these kinds of moods, accept and honor them. Acknowledge them so they can go again afterward. Just let it be. It will be fine after that. You can be angry. And scream. And hit in a pillow. And you are still loved. And you are still safe. And you are surrounded by white light.

Instead of fighting your painful emotions, befriend them and really feel the emotions all the way across the tunnel. There it is light again. Stay in it. Fall right through it. Hold on so you can finally end it.

Dive into the tunnel. There is eventually light at the end of the tunnel.

This can take a few days or weeks. An emotion has only one ambition in its lifespan: it wants to be felt. Growing pains come with that, but after that you feel great. Suddenly there is the new you and you have set yourself free.

What you accept no longer has any power over you.

Sit, meditate and let the emotion run wild. Just be there and do nothing. Just say nothing, do, fix, be busy with ‘being nonsensical’ or flee on Facebook. Sit for an hour and be there for the emotion instead of watching a movie or going online.

Is that scary? Who is it scary for? For your story of the old me. Feel that the fear is temporary and your body is always there.

By following the steps in this article, you accept that you are human and that others are human too, including all flaws and imperfections.

And … give yourself time! Have patience! Why does it have to be resolved so quickly? “I’ve been scared for a few minutes, I want to stop !!!” Don’t be afraid for a few days! Rather than carrying it bottled up for years to come. Feel free to feel good shit for now. The old way will always make you feel shit. You are greater than anything you fear.

Be honest about what you feel. What you feel is what you should feel.

Way 2 – Observe what is there

Observe the emotions passing by. You are here, and you look at it, while it is there and it may be there. Note that it has nothing to do with who you are. You observe it and you feel it without making it personal.

Emotions come and go like waves. Observe them, befriend them, feel them and express them. But don’t make them personal.

Way 3 – Become friends with the emotion: don’t keep sending him away as an unwanted orphan

Become friends with your emotions. Receive them with love. I would like to take you into a useful and beautiful metaphor from mindfulness teacher Dr. Vincent van der Burg …

In step 1 of this article you became aware that ‘Fear’ is at the front door of the party and wants to get in. Now is the time to let in ‘Fear’, the ‘uninvited guest’ and give it the attention it deserves. Because if you send him abruptly away, he’ll want to come back over and over to disrupt the party.

Not this time, however, says Dr. Vincent van der Burg: ‘Vrees’ feels welcome, chooses a spot and will not bother anyone because he is recognized this time. So you do not want this emotion to be different, to push it away or to deny it.

Author Jeff Foster also sees all emotions as welcome guests – even your own children. Read the quote from Jeff Foster below.

Come you unloved creatures. Homeless waves in the immense ocean of life. Pain, doubt, shame, guilt. Frightened creatures of the light. All crawl out of your hiding places. Shimmy out of the darkness. You have been invited to a grand party.
– Jeff Foster, from ‘The Free Fall in Life’

So is there sadness, sadness, fear, pain or confusion? Then feel honored that these misunderstood guests can finally find their home in you, embraced with your deepest respect and friendship. They are all your children, so welcome them into your home and let them warm their fingers by the fireplace.

Please stick with that real feeling. Especially when, for example, it is sad who comes to visit.

This requires a dose of vulnerability: you just have to dare not to hold up the ‘perfect picture’ without any pain and mess. To stop being ‘the awakened one’ who ‘always knows’ and ‘is always happy’.

When are we going to stop pretending? When are we going to face the ‘shadow’, the misunderstood ‘dark side’ of life? Those waves of ourselves that are not in themselves negative, sinful, or dark, but merely neglected and abandoned, longing for home? Who will meet these orphans of life?Who sacrifices the ‘perfect image’ for the pleasure of not knowing? These unwanted children cannot disappear until they are truly free to appear within us. And if they are truly free, who would ever want them to disappear? If they are no longer unwanted, is there another problem? Even the unwanted is desired here in the limitless space that we are. There is plenty of room for it. This love gets her hands dirty to welcome the orphans. She wants all of her kids, not just the pretty ones. She is the mother, the father, the lover, the guru that we have always longed for. By making itself dirty until it can no longer be dirtier, love purifies itself.
– Jeff Foster

Way 4 – Feel the emotion without a story around it

You are feeling the emotion. Very well! Also see it for what it is: an emotion. Nothing else. Don’t create a story around it. It is what it is. The anger is there. The anger is only anger, and even energy, if there is no story around it.

Feel the emotion without adding extra layers, such as judgments, thoughts or a second layer of emotions.

We are going to strip the emotions (energy) of linguistic labels such as anger and hate. The labels ‘this emotion does not belong’ and ‘unwanted emotion’ are also a thing of the past. We will allow the energy in without prejudice, see and feel it until it changes into something else again. Don’t make a story around it or blame other people.

Way 5 – Feel the emotion without making it personal (no identification)

You express the feeling and you allow the feeling without attaching yourself to it or identifying yourself with it, so without making it personal.

I allow it to get over me. And through me. Only I (consciousness, not the ‘little me’) will remain.

Suppose you feel fear: it is what it is in the field today. And then let it be there. Then it is only energy that you feel, with vibrations, and a space arises around it! And the space grows, as you continue to allow that fear. And see that that space is getting bigger and bigger. So much greater than the pain in it. At first there was only the pain, and “I” was the pain.

Acknowledge the emotions as energy and see them as clouds floating by instead of identifying with them as a piece of yourself. You are the silence, the space, the enormous silence that knows their rise and disappearance. Emotions come and go again, as in a wave. And we learn tools to create options to deal with this.

Way 6 – Breathe to the emotion

Breathe to the emotion you feel. Breathe to the feeling. Where is it in your body? Breathe there.

Allow the grief, because “then the site of injury can turn into a site of fertilization. Then it flows again. ”
– Hannah Cuppen

Way 7 – Retain the Lessons of the Old Emotion (Timeline Therapy)

Within Timeline Therapy , retaining life lessons from a situation is a crucial part of processing old emotions. Remember this:  Something can disappear in peace once it has taught us what to know. So it’s very powerful – and even a positive thing – to learn the lessons from an experience that haunts us.

You learned things that were important to you, and you learned those things through that experience. Be open to those wonderful lessons and gifts. Preserve them and express your willingness to let go of the rest. We keep the lessons. We can let go of the old emotions .

We can then unhook those old emotions. Have you learned the lessons from a significant emotional event? Then visualize a hook at the bottom right of the image of that event. Take the heel off the statue. Feel how the emotions are gone …

You learned things that are extremely valuable. However? Keep them in a special place!

Before you throw something away, ask the unconscious if there are any learning points that should be kept. You know that you learned something from that event, and it is important to learn from the past, so you can let your subconscious keep those lessons.

Be proud of your scars.

Appreciate the negative emotions for their alarm function and the guidance they give you: they point you in the right direction and make you a better person. After all, emotions are your navigation system to the law of attraction. Emotions are counselors who have something to say to you. You might listen to it extra carefully next time – and even be grateful for it.

Way 8 – Maintain the positive intention (Reframing)

What is the positive intention of such an emotion? Of such a defense mechanism? Generate a different choice for the positive intention of the old emotion. Lay down your defense, become vulnerable and enjoy the freedom, strength, joy, love, healing and inspiration.

This is the reframing technique. While all techniques are reframing techniques, positive intention reframing is often referred to as the standard reframing technique. To be specific, you can do this with the N-step Reframe technique.

Way 9 – Forgive

Forgiveness is also a way to permanently process old emotions. Say, “I forgive myself and I forgive the other.”

Forgive and delete.
– Gabrielle Bernstein

Way 10 – Self Compassion: Meditate on loving-kindness to your emotions

Meditate on loving-kindness. If you do that, the toxins will lose their grip on you.

The only problem with sadness, despair, anger, hopelessness, fear, misery, is you want to get rid of it. That is the only barrier. You will have to live with them. They are the situations themselves in which life must integrate and grow.
– Osho

Way 11 – Talk to others about your emotions

Talk about it. With as many people as possible. So sing your blues: let a number of listening ears know ‘your’ old passion.

Way 12 – Use the Kübler-Ross Grief Processing Curve

The books by Kübler-Ross, such as The Circle of Life , tell in a very beautiful way how to deal with emotions such as grief when grieving.

Way 13 – Trust the love of your heart while expressing your emotions

Trust your heart as a force that will always be there for you and face your fear as a passing thing. Give it room to calm down. In the meantime, breathe very consciously and connect yourself with your heart.

Find the love and positive intention of the heart, which reveals the painful emotion. And imagine in your mind that you are acting from your heart and how your compassion and love extend to others as well.

Painful feelings or other thoughts do not have to be completely empowered so that they determine what you do or say. You can just choose your heart at that point. That is very difficult when you feel a painful emotion, but that option is always there.

The painful feelings, judgments, thoughts, and negative emotions do not have to control your actions and words, even when you allow and experience them. The more times you allow these emotions to happen without them taking over you, the more they lose their power over you. They still come up, you still feel them, they still hurt, but they no longer control your life.

Negative emotions will always be there, they will always cross your path, even though you are in connection with your heart. So they are normal. However, choose not to give them full power  when you are going to express it. Be aware of them, examine them, allow them and shower them with love from your heart.

Way 14 – Feel and embrace your vulnerability

I have written more than 12 articles with beautiful texts and tips that in one way or another have to do with vulnerability. Click here to view these articles on vulnerability.

If you dare to feel the fragile pain and mess in your life, it means that you are living intensely. You have feeling and you feel everything!

Way 15 – Make it a habit to express your emotions directly

Always feel your emotions directly and express them literally. If there are other people around, walk out of the room, find a place where you are alone, and immediately express the emotions you feel. Authentic, congruent and fair.

[Step 3 – Now that you’ve paid attention to the emotions, here’s how to release them]

process emotions freely

Finally, here you will find a special meditation for the final push to let go of the old emotions. You will notice that the meditation below to release emotions is no longer even necessary because you have already processed your emotions with the previous techniques. Yet it is sometimes nice to do the meditation below also for completeness.

Relax …
Let your skull, forehead and face relax.
Let your tongue, throat and shoulders relax.
Let your back, stomach and thighs relax.
Let your breathing be in peace as you relax your legs and feet.

Notice how much you are holding / holding.
If you do it with your body, you do it with your mind and vice versa.

Say with me …
I am grateful for all my feelings and I am willing to let go.
I let go of all tension.
Fear …
I let go of all anger …
I let go of all {old emotion} Ios
Sadness ….
Guilt ….
Let go of all {old emotion} …
Old limitations …
I let go and i am at peace.
I am at peace with myself.
I am at peace with the process of living.
I’m safe.

Hand this all in …
All your wounds, pain, resistance, fear, judgments, cynicism, anger and burden … and let love take those places.

Affirmeer …
The past is over. Now is new. “Dear God, I’m back!” Let yourself be innocent and free again and ready to say yes to new healing, happiness and a new future.

And finally, do a pattern break . And where there is a pattern break, there is also the option for ‘ fractionation ‘. Just go back to the (for example) gloomy feeling that we just processed. Feel the gloom again completely. After you’re done, just do another pattern break, like a dance. And then settle back into the depressed feeling. And then do another pattern break. And then feel gloomy again. That’s how you go in and out constantly.

Actually, letting go is not even necessary: ​​don’t strive to ‘get better’ …

strive for healing

That last step – letting go – is actually not necessary. I would like to illustrate this with a case study by reader Toos.

I have carefully read your article on how to process old, difficult emotions. I read that I have to feel the emotion that hurts. My problem is that I feel that every woman is nicer / more interesting than I am.

I was unwanted as a child, of the wrong sex. My father was there next to a cheater, drank too much and never acted like a father. My mother never bothered with me. It absolutely didn’t matter how I was doing. And not yet.

I don’t know how to handle my problem according to your advice. Should I focus on my feeling of not being good enough or on my insecurity about other women? There it mainly expresses itself.

My answer:

Thank you very much for your openness and for your question.

You ask, “Should I focus on my feeling of not being good enough or my insecurity about other women?”

My personal answer is: both. Feel how unwanted you seemed and how it felt to you and how it still feels. Also feel how insecure you feel. Also feel how not-enough you feel. Don’t stop nice weather, but dive in. Whining is also allowed. It may even turn into crying.

If you were to ask me for a suggestion about what to do in the near future, I would give you this task: Stay gloomy and insecure for six months. You don’t have to “get better” from me – nor from yourself – or from anyone. It doesn’t have to be all resolved by next week. Or tomorrow. Or this afternoon. Or next month.

Be kind to yourself by not wanting to be different, but just allowing yourself time to live through what you feel – what wants to be felt.

Be wonderfully unresolved for the next 6 months. Embrace the suck. It doesn’t need to be improved. In fact, you are already whole.

Her response – with a wink:

My courage sinks in my shoes at the idea of ​​having to be gloomy for six months.

My answer:

And it is actually fine that you lose heart. Let it ‘get better’ out of your head for the coming period.


I meditate a lot and that is good for me.

Ah, excellent, because what is meditation? Indeed: not striving.

In any case, you are already doing perfectly. In your meditations you pay attention to what you feel. Excellent! If you do that, you are not going to do it with the intention of getting “better” for it. You do n’t have to strive for a better future in which you are “healed”. If I have understood correctly, that is important in meditation.

You may not need to call it formal meditation either, just “just feel bad for a moment.” Even when you go out or are with others.

Isn’t that refreshing? After all these years of wanting to heal, you can now finally see that you are already complete and whole – here, now.

Exercise – Follow into negativity, then lead to positivity

  1. B asks A to think about an aspect of her life that she now thinks / feels negatively about.
  2. B paraphrases or echoes the negative thought / feeling of A.
  3. Question: “What does it do to you?”
  4. Now paraphrase both answers: “You think / feel that you are not slim enough and you are frustrated about that.”
  5. Now ask: “How come you think / feel negatively about this?”
  6. Process the emotion using the techniques in this article (above).
  7. “Can you change the situation? If so, what? If not, how useful is it to think / feel negative? “
  8. “Are there any other things you can do to turn it into something positive?” Ultimately, the official form of Timeline Therapy® is best suited to give new meaning to negative emotions from the past, causing them to dissolve.

All steps in this article are implicit and explicit in the following methodologies

Take a ‘healing journey’

The Journey of healing is based on, among other things, feeling your emotions and forgiving yourself and others. You could also argue that you are applying the principle of Hawkin’s Consciousness Scale (Google image ) in this way . You always go through a layer so that you end up in an increasingly conscious vibration every time.


In  meditation  and mindfulness, one of the parts is recognizing, observing and feeling your emotions without making them personal.

Active meditation

One of the main points of active meditation – known from Osho – is the expression of emotions. It’s a meditation, but it works like therapy – just like all forms of meditation. Here you will find a number of active meditations, including the Osho Mystic Rose meditation.

NLP & Timeline Therapy

In addition, there are many other methods of processing emotions. For example,  Timeline Therapy® is  a very suitable way to let go of old emotions, whereby you first accept the lessons , and then let go of all the old. During the coaching sessions, recognize unpleasant memories and trauma in your client: ‘Significant emotional events’ (SEEs). Treat them to solve problems such as stress. In any case, keep the following in mind for SEEs:

  • In any case, be careful with it , and perform a congruence check by asking the client’s subconscious if it agrees to treat it. For example, a pendulum can be used to ask questions to the subconscious. It is also enough to ask the client in words.
  • Perhaps it is not at all ecological for the client to let go of a negative emotion or experience. Then you can give the following suggestion: “ Now ask your subconscious mind to filter out and safely store from that event all useful, creative possibilities and lessons that you have not yet used up to now. That way they will not be lost and they will be accessible to you at an appropriate time. ”
  • You can let go of the negative emotions of memories by looking at them in a dissociated way. So you look at your own body.
  • That significant emotional event probably hasn’t ended, so you can go back to close it.
  • If a client wants to deal with a fairly serious topic such as trauma, leave it to an experienced medical doctor.
  • If the client is a little anxious about going back to a negative memory, you can reassure her by saying she was safe before the event and after the event. All NLP exercises are neatly closed at a safe point.
  • Many exercises deliberately discover not-so-nice emotions. Tell the client that this is done to gain insights. It gives you the wisdom you need in future contexts. Remember to keep asking the client, “What kind of insight have you gained?” It also motivates you extra because it makes you know how uncomfortable it is not to achieve your goals.
  • Are you working with the coach model while unwanted emotions arise? Let’s take them home to the barriers where they belong. They sit there, they live there. We accept them. We also have the option to go to the resources when needed: we have options and choices.
  • Follow first: “You experience the presence of that negative feeling. It’s there. Let it be and accept it. ” After this you can let the client dissociate from this. You ask the client to stand outside it. This allows you to understand the experience without feeling the feelings. You can now observe it from a distance. Take the lessons now and keep them safe. Then you can lead to: “Do you also have choices in how you want to feel? You don’t have to do anything to be free. You can let it go. Not suppressing, but letting go and understanding. You don’t let your happiness depend on it. ”
  • As an intermediate step, you can also cause confusion first (pattern interruption ). Confusion is a very useful tool for coaches to deploy – before installing the solution.

Joy and sadness go back to the average after their peak, so don’t be surprised if you go back after joy.

  • You can tell the client where our ‘ability’ to have fears comes from. Our ancestors needed fear to survive while picking berries. Seeing a saber-toothed tiger triggered their fight-or-flight response. Our brain automatically directed all of our energy to our muscles so that we could fight or flight. This saved the lives of our ancestors. This is still in us, but it works very restrictive in the 21 e century. Fear of a spider, fear of speaking or fear of the dentist are also a different story than when a shark is chasing you (that is justified fear!). In most cases these types of fears are irrational fears, which you can help yourself from with NLP. Since the threat is not a physical threat, as our ancestors had, you can safely assume that the fear has arisen unjustly through your subconscious and can be processed.

Govern your emotions. Don’t be ruled by it. This is the difference between a boy and a man, or a girl and a woman.

Good luck breaking through your emotional blockages

Now that we have come to the end of this article, you have the answer to the question, “How do you process emotions?” Working with emotions is an important part of the NLP Practitioner Training . Timeline techniques, among other things, are discussed in such a training. Finally, check out the article that specifically discusses dealing with guilt feelings.

What do you do with negative emotions, how do you let them go? Let me know in the comments.

About The Author


Hello! Thanks for reading these articles. My intention is to make happiness as simple and clear as posssible. By the way, excuse my English. I am not a native English speaker since I live in Amsterdam. Much appreciated if you use the comments to make suggestions on my grammar. See ya in another blogpost!


  1. FRED


    Nice overview!
    What I want to add: The book Free your Demons from Tsultrim Allione. For Demons you can also read emotions.
    Wonderful methodology that helps me a lot.

    • Rubin Alaie

      Thank you for your wonderful addition Fred.


    Rubin, when is old pain completely processed? I’ve been trying to get to the pain for a while, but I find that it’s far from gone. There are always new triggers. Mi. I really take the time and feel it. I have to say that I am ‘already’ 54 years old.

    • Rubin Alaie

      Very noble of you that you want to. And you don’t have to fully process the old pain. Is allowed. No need. The old pain can also remain there. It is also our baby. If it goes away, that’s fine. If it stays a little longer, we will also give it all our love. We are not picky parents – but we love all of our kids equally. Also that pain that wants to hang around a little longer – and even if it wants to hang around for a long time.

      You take all the time for it and you feel it. Dar is good. There doesn’t have to be a goal – to make it go away. It can stay. Feel the tolerance and peace for that. We love everything.