UBF’s (Unbearable Feelings)

One of David Riddell’s central concepts is the UBF or Unbearable Feeling. In short it refers to a deep old bruise of the heart. A bruise that we will do anything to avoid being bumped. These are our buttons. Basically, most (or all!) of our craziness is caused by us avoiding our bruises instead of facing up to it and healing it. Or quite simply, realising that it will actually be ok if we bump it, because now as adults we have the reassurances to coach us through it. That’s a very short paragraph summarising a VERY BIG phenomenon.

A more compassionate way to look at an UnBearableFeeling is to consider it an emotional ‘need’. In saying that, one has to be very careful about the way they think about needs.


The Journey to Heal a UBF

1. Identify the Need

To help find your need that sits on the flip side of your UBF, use my needs cards, or list, or a similar resource.

2. Own the need

  • A need is different from a demand.
  • It’s not the same as a feeling.
  • It’s different from a request.
  • A need is owned by the ‘needer’ and there must be clear boundaries around this.
  • Others may remind me of this need by what they do or say (or what I think they did or said) but it’s still mine!

3. Find less costly way to meet the need

Once you have done that you need to think about the most cost effective way of meeting your need. By cost effective, I mean, does it cost you in the future in a negative way? Does it cost others? Does it ‘use up’ your friendships? Finding a new way sometimes includes counting the cost of the old way.

Consider the less popular but highly effective strategies:

4. Make friends with the fear of the UBF

This requires you to stop avoiding it.  This sin’t easy, but it’s necessary.  Left alone, fears grow, they don’t go away.


Check out this awesome little video by Barry Pearman – from Turning the Page, with some practical steps for facing your UBF.

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