Managing your feelings may be one of the most important aspects of recovery from addiction. When you allow your feelings to rule your life, you open the door for chaos and a lack of control. You may be allowing more things into your life that do more harm than good. When you learn how to successfully manage your feelings, you can begin to understand yourself better. You can handle more stress and accept the challenges of life for what they are. When feelings rule your life, you may become impulsive, hurtful, or self-destructive. To first manage your feelings, you need to first learn to accept them. Once you accept your feelings, you stop trying to fix them or run away from them. Accepting your feelings allows you to let them go.
Living With Discomfort
When you have been using drugs, alcohol, or other addictions to push away or mask your feelings, you taught yourself an avoidance tactic. When you feel something, you drink it away. When someone hurts you or tells you a painful truth, you numb the pain with drugs. Acceptance of feelings begins with learning to live with discomfort. When you can live with the discomfort that your feelings bring up, you can begin to accept them. You may be avoiding the discomfort of experiencing any raw emotion, which you have been disguising with drugs or alcohol.
Learn to live in that moment of discomfort. When you begin to experience an uncomfortable feeling or emotion, sit with the discomfort. Observe from a detached perspective and allow yourself to get through this feeling. When you begin your recovery, you are likely going to feel a lot of discomfort. You may be experiencing withdrawal symptoms or feeling shame in admitting that you have a problem. All of these uncomfortable feelings will lead you to a path of self-acceptance and growth! These feelings are telling you that you need to make a change. You can help to learn how to live with discomfort more easily by taking care of your physical and mental health needs. Remember when beginning recovery to:
- Get enough rest and sleep
- Eat healthy and regular meals
- Exercise or get out for some fresh air
- Talk to others for support
- Ask others for help with responsibilities that may be overwhelming
By remaining healthy, getting support from others, and reducing stressors in your life, you can be strong enough to manage the uncomfortable, raw emotions of recovery.
Accepting Thoughts and Feelings–and Letting Them Go!
When fighting a thought or a feeling, you are strengthening negative feelings. You may feel like you are in control of pushing them away or of thinking away bad thoughts, yet, you have little control over these things. You can, however, control how you respond to them. Once you accept and embrace discomfort, you can allow yourself to experience your feelings. When you accept them and then feel them, you will realize that most of the feelings you have been avoiding are not so bad! When you are in a supportive and healthy environment, others can help you feel less alone and less vulnerable. By calmly sitting with your feelings, instead of pushing them away, you can begin to understand how to manage your feelings. To remain calm during this process, practice the following:
- Focus on your breathing and slowly breath in and out. You can reduce your need to panic by slowing your breathing.
- Close your eyes and give a name to your thoughts or feelings.
- Think about where in your body you experience these feelings. Are they in your head or in the pit of your stomach? Do you feel them in the wells of your tear ducts or the heat of anger in your face?
- Sit with the feeling! Let the feeling wash over you as you experience it without reacting or running away!
Accepting your feelings can help you manage them. Remember that your emotions and feelings are here to guide you. Emotions can help you know what you want or what you do not want. They are your body’s way of reacting to the circumstances you are currently in. By learning to sit with the discomfort and accept your feelings, you can identify what they are and what they are telling you. When you experience your emotions, you can begin to make better decisions about the things you need and want. Avoidance behaviors, like addiction, do not allow our emotions to work the way they are intended. Managing your feelings successfully begins with calmly accepting them into your life.
Early in your recovery, you may experience feelings and emotions that you have been running away from by using addictive behaviors. By accepting your feelings, you can fully experience what your body is trying to tell you about your immediate environment. Feelings give us information about the world around us and serve to guide our behavior. Emotions help us make decisions by helping us realize what we want or do not want in our lives. By calmly sitting with your feelings, you can begin to let them go. When you understand your feelings and build your emotional intelligence, you can better manage your feelings. This can help you from reacting out of anger, fear, shame, or denial. Everlast Recovery Centers can help you learn new ways of managing your feelings with our psycho-educational classes in recovery. Call us today at 866-DETOX-25.