What are feelings and emotions?
Why do I feel alone, afraid, happy, or sad?
By definition, a feeling is an emotional state or reaction. “a feeling of joy.” Sometimes a feeling can come as a belief, especially a vague or irrational one. “He had the feeling that he was being watched.” Feelings can be a result of things you picked up on as a child, or even things you learned through regular life lessons. These feelings always have a trigger.
When I first came to detox, and began my journey of recovery, I suffered with severe anxiety. Before understanding myself better, I suffered from social anxiety, which in turn led to me not wanting to speak out about the problems I was having. I tend to bottle my emotions up, because I don’t want to burden someone else with my problems. I also don’t want to feel embarrassed, or suffer from being denied for my feelings.
Drugs, Alcohol, And my Feelings
What are the effects that Drugs and Alcohol have on my feelings?
Humans are seldom aware of the feelings and emotions they have. Feelings are misunderstood, and very unappreciated. Feelings and emotions are normally associated with drinking and drug abuse. We use these chemicals to numb our feelings and emotions. Whether its childhood trauma, or simply trying to get more social at a party or event.
The chemicals I would use temporarily allowed me to function in ways I couldn’t due to my fears, and anxiety.
Before I came to treatment, I never would have thought that maybe I was trying to cover up my feelings and emotions. I would have honestly told you I was a victim of circumstance, and that drugs and alcohol were my issue. Take those out of my life, and help me get on my feet, and everything would be fine.
What’s wrong with numbing my feelings? Is drugs and alcohol really my problem? Can’t I just go to a Drug and Alcohol detox and get right back on with life?
This may sound like a perfect solution to every day life. The truth is, it only makes things worse. Once that drink or drug wears off, it only leads us to craving more of that substance. Or very frequently causes us to seek harsher drugs. Those feelings come rushing back in, and we begin to feel those uncomfortable feelings more than before.
My first realization of this truth is when I started working my 12 steps in A.A. As I stated before, I thought drugs and alcohol were my problem. Being unaware of how life worked, I figured once I get through detox and the withdrawals, everything would be fine. I thought I could live a normal life. I began realizing that I had a lot of negative thoughts, which were very present when my mind cleared up. Finally, I had come to the realization that all of my emotions were being blocked. Not just the negative ones.
What happens when I use drugs and alcohol to numb my feelings and emotions?
As author and researcher Dr. Brene Brown explains, “We cannot selectively numb emotions. When we numb painful emotions, we also numb the positive emotions.
When people use alcohol and drugs in an abusive way, they are not only blocking out the pain, hurt, and fear. They’re also blocking out any sense of joy, or happiness they could feel in their life. When they do this, they can also start losing their process of decision making. Lack of connectivity to others, and lack of fear of consequences, can lead us to do some pretty stupid things.
At this point I had lost everything and I just didn’t care, and was content with my life style. Once upon a time, I would live under bridges, end up in jail over and over again. I would steal, and lie, and was never aware of my actions, or the consequences they brought into my life. I would always say, “I am a victim of my circumstances.”
The best part is as soon as I came to terms
with all of this, I had a defense. Cognitive behavioral therapy, and working my 12 steps brought me to an understanding of why I continue to drag myself down. After working the steps, I now realize I was drinking, and getting high because I was covering up my feelings and emotions.
Managing your emotions, and changing the way I react
How can I manage my feelings of anxiety, and fear?
There are multiple forms of therapy that are designed to help you understand, and react differently to feelings or emotions. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a talking therapy that can help you manage your problems by changing the way you think and behave. It’s most commonly used to treat anxiety and depression, but can be useful for other mental and physical health problems. When we learn to recognize a thought or feeling, we can then come to terms with it, and find a solution.
How can I recognize my feelings, and find a solution?
There are a lot of different ways we can go about finding a solution to a negative thought or feeling. When we work the steps of A.A., we begin to trust in our higher power to direct us to react differently. Through CBT we learn positive and negative ways to react.
- Recognize the emotion.
- Understand what triggers that emotion, and why.
- Establish a plan of action to counter that emotion.
Getting out of my comfort zone was the best decision I ever made. Overcoming a fear of rejection, and denial can be a very hard thing to do. Once I came to realization that it didn’t matter what people thought about me, I began to explore things in my life I never knew were possible. I finally understood that I do have a voice.
I finally understand that its not about who I’m trying to “impress.” Or what I’m trying to succeed at. Its about why I do things. I’m not speaking at a meeting to impress people, but to help people. This is just an example of a solution that I learned, and something that has helped me along my journey. Things like meditation, and prayer can also help you become more aware.