I've looked up sit with in the dictionaries, but I couldn't find any definition that fits with the context.

Research, published in 2011 by Mike Morrison and Neal J. Roese, yielded similar findings. While people were just as likely to have regrets about action and inaction, regrets about inaction involved more elapsed time than regrets about action.

In other words, asking that guy on a date and getting laughed at might initially sting more than letting your chance to approach him pass by. But years later, when you're sitting in your rocking chair, you're more likely to regret letting him go and wondering "what if?" than if you'd asked him and been humiliated.

Of course, these findings don't imply that you should or shouldn't do something you're afraid of failing at — that's for you to decide. The takeaway here is that the frustration or embarrassment of trying and failing seems to fade faster than the pain of missing your chance.

Ultimately, it's about learning that you may have to sit with negative emotions either way.

As Robbins says about dealing with the looming prospect of failure, "I don't have to get rid of the fear. I just have to dance with it."

Tony Robbins' best tip for overcoming the fear of failure is backed by science

3 Answers 3


The meaning is like these:
Merriam-Webster sit
8 : lie, rest
9a : to have a location
10 : to remain inactive or quiescent

When you are sitting, you are remaining in one place. You aren't walking or running or fleeing, you are stationary.

In this context, it means that there will be negative emotions, and there's no point to struggling against them.


To "sit with" something, as in your quote, doesn't mean to fully accept it, but to consciously not struggle with it, so observe yourself thinking about it or feeling it.

Sitting with something can help you come to accept it, or "come to terms" with it, but they don't mean the same thing. It's possible to sit with something, and still not accept it.

(I'm honestly surprised "sit with" is not listed with its own definition because it has a nuanced meaning that goes beyond "sit" + "with".)

  • I found a similar context in the movie "Michael Clayton", "I will not sit with this sickness any longer" ("Sickness" refers to an immoral behavior of a law firm that the man speaking works for). Is this the correct definition for these contexts... (idiomatic) To consider (something) slowly and carefully, to reflect on. ...? Dec 12, 2023 at 14:42

Usually when the expression is used there is an adverb between the words 'sit' and 'with'.

Here, for example, it is the word 'comfortably'.

Here, although it is defined as 'be harmonious with', not one of the ten accompanying examples actually uses the two words consecutively:

This sits badly with...
That didn't sit comfortably with...
...doesn't sit easily with...

A curious state of affairs!

So, it might mean 'you may have to live harmoniously with negative emotions.'

Or perhaps, rather than 'sit with', the writer means 'you may have to live with negative emotions.'

Using 'you may have to sit with' so soon after mentioning a rocking chair is unfortunate.

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