It’s so important to allow ourselves to truly feel our feelings. Here are a few tips for accessing your emotions and why it’s so important to do so.
When we start our recovery journeys, we’re often coming from a past of numbing our feelings with drugs and/or alcohol. Additionally, other addictive behaviors and negative coping mechanisms like avoidance and dissociation can add to this numbing effect. We enter recovery with months or years of accumulated emotions that we haven’t dealt with. In addition to those stored emotions, we also have a whole slew of other feelings that arise because we’re in a new place, learning new things, meeting new people, and most of all, we don’t have our substances of choice to lean on. The process of getting to know our deepest emotions is not easy and it’s not a straight line. We spend time and effort in recovery learning to get to know ourselves again, learning about our triggers and our strengths, and discovering how to access our long-neglected emotions. It’s a lot to deal with and it’s completely normal to feel overwhelmed or even like you don’t know where to begin. Here are a few reasons why it’s so important to access our emotions and truly let ourselves feel them, as well as some tips for how to go about this very rewarding process.
Why Is It Important to Get In Touch With Emotions?
When we stuff our emotions down or numb them using substances or other addictive behaviors, we’re unable to learn from them and truly heal. Feelings, whether they’re positive, negative, or neutral, all carry messages. We can’t hear the wisdom of our emotions when we ignore them. For instance, if you’re feeling sad and you choose to ignore it, that feeling will show up in other ways. Perhaps you’ll become depressed or isolate yourself. Alternatively, if you get curious about the feeling, ask yourself where it might be coming from, and let yourself feel the weight of the sadness, you’re more likely to be able to process that emotion, heal, and move on. When we don’t process our emotions, they linger and stay with us — often showing up later in the form of anxiety, depression, addiction, or other mental and physical illnesses.
Additionally, when we get in touch with our feelings and let ourselves emote, we become more self-aware and in tune with our creative natures. Self-awareness is a key component of the recovery process. The more we learn about ourselves and our mental health, the more likely we are to create sustained and positive change in our lives. Lastly, some of the emotions that we carry around might not even be ours! If you’re highly sensitive to the world around you and to the emotions and turmoil of those you love, it’s possible that you’re carrying around emotional baggage that’s not even yours. When you enter a state of deep self-awareness, you can start to sort through your own emotions vs. those that you’ve absorbed from society or other people in your life. This is a great gift, as it lightens your load and keeps you feeling in tune with your own rhythms, instead of acting as an emotional sponge in your environment. This is where emotional boundaries become very important.
Observing vs. Reacting
As humans, our emotions fluctuate on a daily or even hourly basis. Mindfulness practices or Cognitive Behavioral Therapy techniques teach us how to observe our emotions in healthy ways instead of reacting to them with rage, outbursts, dissociation, or avoidance. Observing your emotions from a more neutral state of mind will help you feel empowered to get to the root of the issue. Difficult feelings are never the main problem. The main problem, typically, is how we choose to react to those feelings. You have more power than you think you do. The next time a difficult feeling comes up, choose to sit with it, allow yourself to feel it, note where you feel it in your body and mind, and ask what the feeling is trying to tell you. This is the path towards feeling your feelings and having a healthy emotional life.
How To Feel Your Feelings
As with most things, acceptance is the first step. Accept the fact that it’s completely normal to experience a variety of feelings. Instead of running away from the feeling or reacting in other unhealthy ways, as discussed above, try to sit with the feeling and truly observe it. Does the feeling have a message for you? How does your body feel? Do you feel a connection between your mental state and your physical state? Have you felt this feeling before? If yes, how did you react to it? What will you do differently this time? Is this something you’d like to discuss with your therapist or in a group meeting? These are just a few of the questions you can ask yourself as you notice a difficult feeling start to emerge. The same is true with positive emotions. Let yourself be happy! In recovery, we’re given the gift of access to our rich emotional lives. Our emotions, good or bad, joyous or horrible, have a lot to teach us. We simply have to listen.
Avalon Malibu is a world-renowned, California state-licensed mental health and substance abuse recovery center. If you are ready to seek treatment to develop the tools you need to overcome life’s obstacles and be on the road towards happiness, health, and well-being, call us today at 844-857-5992 for a consultation. It’s never too late, and there are people here ready to help you – it’s never too late to begin taking steps towards a happier, healthier life.