Cotton Balls for Emotional Health


How It Works

Sometimes life can feel quite harsh. It may be outside circumstances which feel rough or the way we are treating ourselves can be less than kind. Sometimes we are exhausted and everything feels as if it's just, "too darn much." For many of us, the problem is not what's happening in the moment, but what's under all the blech - a very tender, soft and vulnerable spot we protect like mad. But instead of piling on more protective layers, we can learn from these "uncomfortable" places and use them for our healing and growth. The first step is to be with these places gently enough that they don't go deeper into hiding. This is where the cotton balls come in. In reality, hold a cotton ball in cupped hands, close eyes and feel how soft, light and easily squish-able it is. Toggle between the reality in hand and the imagination. Allow the gentleness we use to hold the cotton ball to represent the gentleness we can use to hold our tender places. Imagine being that soft, that light, that aware of our own squishiness and then take a breath and actually be that soft, light, and squishy, with the tender place, maybe only for a moment or maybe for several. Use the cotton ball as a simple prop or reminder of the soft places inside and the tender loving care with which they can be held. Cotton balls are cheap. Buy a bag and put them in various unexpected places. It's surprisingly wonderful to reach into the pocket of a robe, feel something soft and squishy and immediately remember and reenact being held gently and with love.


*For some of us, imagining can be a challenge. It can help to remember that just like in the movies, it doesn't have to be real to be effective. A big car chase or a romantic encounter can get our hearts going even though we know those are actors, this is a theatre and we are in no danger of crashing or kissing! It's all in our head and there is no wrong or perfect way. If the critical inner voice starts to narrate how it should be done, send the inner voice out for Raisinets.

What You’ll Need

  • Cotton balls, soft fabric or yarn


Easy Neither easy
nor hard


I can be a bitch. Less of a bitch after many years of inner work and practice, absolutely, but still, if looks could kill, I'd be in trouble. What helped me the most, in smoothing the edges of my attitude, was getting into better, or any, relationship with my most tender places. I learned the "ouch" I was feeling, followed by the "FU" I was saying, was just a defense mechanism protecting my inner unprocessed hurts. Textbook psychology, yes, but what to do about it? This is where the cotton balls came in. They helped me see how tender my "ouchy" places were; how vulnerable. The more I met myself with love and kindness, or in cotton ball speak, with softness and squishiness, the more the hurts were available to be healed rather than buried deeper. When working with couples, I often introduce and give them each their own cotton ball. We agree together to use it as a physical sign meaning, "Hey, I am feeling really soft and vulnerable right now and maybe even terrified. Please be gentle with me." Without having to say anything, individuals were able to say so much, to their partner and themselves.

What do you think?

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