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What is Compartmentalizing?

Compartmentalizing is an emotional pattern often found in people struggling with addiction. We separate the emotions we find hardest to handle, such as grief or fear, and we distance ourselves from them. We categorize the emotions we don’t want to feel and divide them off. The unwanted emotions are shoved into mental compartments where we don’t have to deal with them. This form of emotional suppression and resistance can be especially damaging as we’re working to recover from our addictions.

Why Do We Compartmentalize?

A major reason for our dependence on addictive substances is the fact that we haven’t figured out healthy ways of coping with difficult feelings. Our discomfort with tough emotions, and our resistance to them, helps to perpetuate the addiction cycle. Using a drug or behavior to get high is a means of distracting ourselves from the emotions we haven’t learned to manage. We’re able to compartmentalize all our difficult feelings, and put them to the side. With our feelings safely tucked away, we retreat into our addictive patterns. Many of us spend years pretending as if there’s nothing wrong. We’ll be able to feign normalcy without succumbing to the weight of our emotions because we’ve chosen not to experience them. 

How Are We Impacted?

Unfortunately, this way of handling emotions causes us a great deal of emotional stress in the long run. We’re compounding all of the negative energy stored in our minds and bodies. Refusing to acknowledge problematic thought patterns is not a long-term solution. Instead, we might be ignoring signs of acute mental health challenges. Our insecurities build up, and we gradually feel worse about ourselves. We feel more depressed and anxious over time, and our addictive patterns worsen. Because we’re trying so hard to avoid our feelings, we ultimately suffer much more than if we were to face our emotions head-on. As with many things in recovery, the answer is acceptance rather than avoidance. 

Exploring Our Emotions and Emotional Patterns

Which emotions are you compartmentalizing, dividing off, and avoiding? When did you first begin this particular emotional pattern? Where might these feelings have originated? Perhaps there is a source of trauma that you have yet to address. You might want to examine these issues more deeply with the help of a therapist, coach, or spiritual guide. The more we can incorporate all of our emotions, including the difficult ones, into the light of our conscious awareness, the more we can move through them and begin to heal from them.

The Guest House focuses on guiding you as you discover the underlying causes of your actions and behaviors, and the outcome of this mission is to reduce and reverse any harm that your self-defeating habits have caused. Call 855-483-7800 today for more information.