I have found that a much more open-hearted approach works for me.
For example, if desire or anger is present, well, first of all I try to listen to all the judgements that may arise: ‘desire!… anger!… wrong! Be restrained, do something about this.’
I notice that if I relate to the experience in a wrong way, it increases the sense of struggle or tension – which doesn’t lead to the ending of suffering. But if I can catch what’s going on – and presently my way of working is: ‘Just give it space… whatever’s present here, just give it some space…’ – then somehow there’s a kind of stretching of the internal space to accommodate the feeling, rather than react to it.
In this giving of space, in this opening around something, there’s no struggle. The energy of the particular hindrance or disturbing emotion starts to unravel by itself.
Of course the intensity of some of these things is such that you are caught into them before you recognise what’s going on, and then it’s a matter of trying to remember to acknowledge the pain (first Noble Truth), be with it, and give it space.
If we find ourselves caught in a struggle, it is usually because there is unrecognised, unaccepted pain at some level. The judgment and the struggle that ensues then is double pain, extra pain, fuelled by the desire to get rid of it or the desire to fix it – vibhava-tanha ̄, the desire to get away from pain, to not be conscious of it.
This reflection by Ajahn Jitindriya is from the book, Awakening Presence, (pdf) pp.78-79.