For people in active addiction or in early recovery one of the fundamental skills that must be learned is identifying owning and processing emotions, especially uncomfortable ones.
Most of us have little control over our emotional responses, and struggle.
I used to think that I had no control over my thoughts and emotions, like a leaf being blown about on a windy day – never knowing or being able to guess where I would end up. Too often, we equated the exercise of controlling emotions with denying or suppressing one’s feelings. Here’s a genius idea – let’s ignore feelings and hope they go away.
That’s like stuffing them in a pressure cooker clamping it tight and turning up the heat. Sooner or later it will blow up. And now for the grand solution to that mess – go get high. One of the most common ways to suppress feelings is to engage in your drug of choice.
It’s very odd but addicts and people in early recovery can handle tremendous amounts of physical pain however if an even slightly uncomfortable emotion shows up, they are helpless in clueless. They live life on an unrealistic plane thinking they should feel good all the time. That’s just not possible. They also fail to take into account that drugs change the brain itself.
A necessary skill for long-term sobriety is learning how to handle emotions.
Gain control of your emotions with these strategies:
- Don’t judge your emotions. Emotions aren’t good or bad right or wrong they just are. Emotions are a direct by-product of our thoughts and beliefs in a given situation. For instance, I remember getting laid off from my “dream job”. At the time I felt despair, depression, and hopelessness.
These feelings were direct result of the thoughts I was thinking. It turned out later that my next job was even better than my previous job. I changed my attitude and now regard that layoff is one of the biggest blessings in my life. Life is life. Good things will happen, bad things will happen, good emotions occur in bad emotions occur.
- Examine your emotions. Learn to notice when you’re getting emotional. Awareness is the essential ingredient when trying to practice emotional control. Ask yourself exactly what emotion you’re feeling and, secondly, do you want to change it? When you notice yourself reacting strongly, ask yourself why. Try to label the emotion.
Analyze why you’re feeling that particular emotion and then admit it to yourself. This way, you can avoid rationalizing your behavior, which is a nice way of saying “lie to yourself.” If you know the real reason you’re feeling the way you do, you’re more able to do something about it. If a particular emotional state is an early warning sign of relapse , admit it, don’t ignore it. Take steps to learn to work with that emotion before heading o the dope boy or bar.
- Choose your response to your emotions. We all make conscious choices and unconscious choices about what we think in a given situation. These thoughts and attitudes leads to us creating are owning emotions. If we can create bad emotions we can create good emotions. Another way of saying it is that when you get conscious to the thoughts that are driving your emotions, you can control them by changing your thinking. You don’t have to be a slave to your emotions any more.
- Find a healthy way to release negative emotions. Our actions can influence our moods and attitudes. Immediately get up and go for a walk. Go to the library and find an interesting book. Call a friend. Exercise is a great way to release energy. Praying helps people stay in control of their emotions and behavior, according to a new study.You don’t have to passively accept your mood. Go do something else and change it!
- Try deep breathing and meditation. The only part of your physiology that can be easily controlled is your breathing. Many people assume that emotions are entirely psychological, but there is a physical component. Neuroscience is now mapping the different chemicals and hormones that emotions release. Realize that all emotions are ultimately experienced as physical feelings in your body. You’ve just learned to label certain body feelings with names like “anger” and “fear.”
- You can try are holding your breath for 5 seconds.
- Breathing deeply and slowly for 30 seconds, breathe in slowly and breathe out even more slowly.
- Think about your breathing and count your breaths. Focus on the physical feeling of the air moving in and out of your body.
The Mystery of Emotional Fitness - Simply and Easily Explained
If you’re used to being controlled by your emotions, you know that it’s not easy to maintain your composure. But you can choose to respond differently to your emotions and make wiser choices. Negative emotions exist to inform us that something might be amiss. They are not there to control us. Be aware that emotional dysregulation is a sign of PAWS Post Acute Withdrawal Symptoms, it can last a while.
My personal mantra is I control my thoughts, I control my feelings, I control my actions and therefore I control the result showing up in my life. A basic tool of relapse prevention education is learning to identify, own and process uncomforortable emotions.
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Living Beyond Your Feelings: Controlling Emotions So They Don’t Control YouThe Language of Emotions: What Your Feelings Are Trying to Tell YouEmotions: Freedom from Anger, Jealousy and FearEmotion: The Owner’s Manual (Owner’s Manual for the Brain)The Feelings Book (Revised): The Care and Keeping of Your EmotionsEmotions!: Making Sense of Your Feelings and Emotions