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As we’re working to recover from our addictions, sometimes we hope that the negative emotions of our turbulent experiences with addiction will be a thing of the past. We want to believe that we’ve done the majority of our hard work, and that we’ll no longer have to be so challenged by our emotions. We’d like to think that we won’t be susceptible to feelings of defeat, disappointment, and hopelessness. We want to be free from the emotional turmoil and inner conflict of our addictive patterns. We want to shed our sadness, anxiety, and shame. Our recovery, however, is an ongoing process. It’s a lifelong healing journey. When we expect to be able to eliminate any negative emotions from our experience moving forward, we can be disappointed when they reemerge. We can panic at the thought of never being able to rid ourselves of them. How can we become more accepting of our negative emotions in recovery?

Our Emotions Are a Part of Our Life Story

Keep in mind that the recovery journey is a complex one and the negative emotions we associated with addiction are a part of our overall life experience. Those emotions weren’t only correlated to our addictive patterns, they are a part of who we are. They are a part of our story. Sobriety doesn’t make them disappear. In fact, very often when we get sober, we’re confronted by emotions we didn’t even know existed. We’re unearthing deep wounds and fears caused by the traumatic things we’ve experienced. Emotions we’ve been suppressing and trying to block ourselves from thinking about are finally coming to the surface. We’re now feeling our emotions in a clearer, more lucid, more honest state because we’re no longer numbing ourselves to them with addictive substances and behaviors. We’re not using drugs, alcohol, and self-destructive behaviors to try and escape our feelings. We’re facing them head-on, sometimes for the first time, and it can be overwhelming and painful. Part of accepting these negative emotions in recovery is reminding ourselves that sobriety doesn’t provide an immediate cure for our addictions or resolution to our problems. Our emotional pain doesn’t end with our sobriety. We learn healing tools and develop emotional coping skills in recovery to handle our pain rather than trying to suppress it.

Our Emotions Empower Our Growth

Another thing to remind ourselves is that our seemingly negative emotions aren’t wrong or shameful. They’re not feelings we need to reject, try to rid ourselves of, or resist. Our addictive patterns thrive on our emotional resistance. When we’re unable to face our emotions head-on, when we don’t know how to handle them, we use our drugs of choice to help us avoid them. We think of certain emotions as being negative because they cause us discomfort because they’re hard to feel. We can feel destabilized and imbalanced by them. We feel stressed out and overwhelmed by them. They cause us to feel sad, afraid, angry, and ashamed of ourselves. Our negative emotions, however, are there to teach us, to show us what parts of ourselves still need to heal, and what things we need to work on, change, and develop. The emotions that trouble us, that we’re most sensitive to, point us in the direction of healing. They’re wake-up calls and warning signals. They illuminate and clarify for us what things in our lives are causing us pain. When we become consciously aware of our emotions, we can open up to a deeper connection with our inner selves. Our feelings can allow for profound healing and personal transformation when we’re open to them. Resisting our emotions stifles our growth, creates debilitating emotional imbalances and blockages, and ultimately causes us considerably more pain. Remembering that our emotions are there to serve us, and to empower our growth, can help us to accept rather than resist them.

Understanding Our Emotional Responses

Having emotional acceptance means encouraging ourselves to feel the full range of our emotions rather than trying to avoid feeling them. It means being brave enough to let ourselves feel all of the discomfort, fear, and conflict that can come with our difficult emotions. Acceptance means knowing that not only will we survive our emotions, but we’ll also be strengthened and uplifted by the process of really feeling them. When negative emotions arise, what are your instinctive responses? Do you try to run away and hide from them? Do you change the subject in your mind and refuse to think about them? When we don’t address our emotions, they tend to cause us pain in all areas of our lives. How do you address, or avoid your emotions? What are your emotional patterns, and the behavioral patterns that accompany them? For example, do you lash out at other people and project your pain onto them? Do you blame other people for your feelings? Becoming more mindful of how we usually respond to our emotions can help us to put a stop to our patterns of emotional resistance and really feel our emotions instead.

Emotional Mindfulness and Acceptance

When a difficult emotion arises, try to sit with it, breathe through it, and notice how it’s causing you to feel, mentally, emotionally, and physically. Where are you feeling it in your body? What reactions are you having to it? Get curious about your emotions and open up to them, rather than trying to banish them away. Lean into them, rather than turning away from them. Having mindfulness around our emotions and really allowing ourselves to feel them helps us to develop more acceptance for them. The more we accept the difficult emotions of the recovery process, all the feelings we hoped would disappear once we got sober, the more we can make peace with them and experience true emotional healing that will help us to stay sober. 

At The Guest House Ocala, our experience with addiction and recovery makes us uniquely equipped to be able to understand the struggles you’re experiencing.

We’re here to help.

Call 855-483-7800 today for more information on our treatment programs.

3230 Northeast 55th Avenue Silver Springs, FL 34488