Day 3 Emotional regulation

Keywords: Acknowledging and accepting negative emotions
Time: 30 minutes
Goal: To emphasise that emotions are fleeting, and even unpleasant emotions can have value.

The Guest House poem is a method of explaining the importance of acknowledging and accepting unpleasant emotions.  Emotional suppression has been associated with both psychological and physiological health detriment.

When we try to control or deliberately avoid uncomfortable thoughts, feelings, and emotions we can feel worse. We are better to acknowledge them, to allow ourselves to feel the feels. Whatever we resist gets stronger.


In the poem, being human is like being a guest house, and emotions are personified as temporary visitors that should be welcomed even if they are unpleasant. However, by welcoming emotions as if they were visitors, the intensity and impact of those emotions can be reduced

We can use this poem to understand that emotions are not permanent residents in their guest house; instead, they are transient visitors who can be welcomed, stay for a while, and then leave. 


The Guest House by Jelaluddin Rumi

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness, some momentary awareness comes as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows, who violently sweep your house empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honourably.
He may be clearing you out for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
Meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.                                                                            
Be grateful for whatever comes.
Because each has been sent as a guide from beyond.

Reflection Questions

  • What emotions are visiting you most often during this crisis? Do you know what triggers them?
  • How might it affect you if you welcomed all your emotions rather than denying them?
  • What benefits could there be in welcoming unpleasant emotions?
  • Can you relate to the feeling described in the line “violently sweeps your house empty of its furniture”? Have any of your emotions been as intense as this?
  • How might you apply the message of The Guest House to your life at this very challenging time?
  • You may wish to download a copy of the poem and have it in your purse or on your bedside table, as a reminder that no matter what emotions visit your guesthouse, they will leave just as in the poem.


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