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How to honor your feelings without letting them define you

In any stage of recovery, feelings will be experienced.

They are a natural part of the equation, and a natural part of human existence.

Some welcome this influx of feelings- they may see them as beautiful and inspiring, in their own brilliant shades of artistic technicolor. But, let’s be realistic. Most, consider them downright overwhelming. Feelings seem foreign, and they also seem difficult and unmanageable- a scary sensation meant to either be controlled or avoided altogether.

After all, when you are used to numbing your feelings for years on end, the experience of them can feel both strange and paralyzing.

Learn to Name The Feeling

Hint: good, bad, fine, and okay are not feelings.

Why is naming a feeling important? It’s a way of acknowledging what’s happening inside of you. It’s a way of concretizing, of turning a cluster of responses into actual realities.

Acknowledgment brings it onto the table, makes it real, makes it known. Psychologist Dan Siegel states, name it to tame it.

Oftentimes, drug addiction is characterized by suppression or minimization or total denial of what is happening inside of you. There is rarely, if any, real acknowledgment of the inward experiences. The result of this? Extreme disconnection from others and from yourself.

Naming the feeling is a powerful expression of recognition. We can’t really fix what we don’t know, and we can’t really change what we don’t notice.

Naming provides a sense of ownership and responsibility- the ability to know what is happening inside of you, and have a sense of expression over it. It is the first step of mapping out what’s happening, the first door to unlock to figure out what to do next.

Learn What That Feeling Actually Feels Like

Feelings begin with our physiological sensations.

Addiction keeps people incredibly out of touch with reality and out of touch with the internal self. Naturally, it can take time and practice to relearn these basic sensations.

Many people are confused with how they feel in general. Knowing your body- and knowing what it’s telling you- is in it’s own tool in understanding ourselves. It’s a powerful form of internal connection, and a necessary one for internal reflection and health.

Be Mindful of Your Thoughts

Feelings come with their own unique host of thoughts and reactions. Nothing is inherently wrong with these thoughts- however if they are threaded with negativity or intrusiveness (i.e: I shouldn’t be feeling this way), they can be paralyzing.

Healthy people experience the full spectrum of feelings. This is because life has its inevitable ebbs and flows, turns and curves. Healthy people also know that judging feelings is rarely, if ever, helpful.

Thinking positively may be the best approach, but more often than not, simply accepting what is happening is the answer for moving through rough feelings.

Remember this:

•Feelings are natural responses

•You’re not wrong, stupid, or crazy for feeling any particular way

•Feelings pass. Even uncomfortable ones

At the End of the Day, Action is Everything

This is the magic right here.

We’re all going to have our own labyrinths of thoughts and feelings.

Feelings are impulses- neutral responses to stimuli. They happen, and they can happen randomly with high intensity and varying difficulty. The thoughts surrounding them can feel daunting. 

But, action is the difference between a positive and healthy recovery and a tumultuous and life-threatening relapse.

Action is what life- and a life worth living- is all about.

Positive action may not seem intuitive at first, but any successful recovery is built upon consistently repeated healthy behaviors and coping.

This entails:

•Developing different coping skills for different emotions

•Knowing that what works well one time may not necessarily work well another time

•Positive support really, really matters. Find people who can safely and openly be available for you 

•You may not cope perfectly, and that’s okay