Emotions are a huge driver for people who use drugs or alcohol. Commonly triggering feelings include anxiety, anger, boredom, depression, loneliness, excitement, and joy. Managing ‘triggering feelings’ can be a challenge. Most people do not enjoy feelings, especially hard ones. Addictive behavior is a way of escaping. Finding better ways of coping while staying sober can help people navigate challenges in a healthier, more holistic, way.
Observe the feeling and see if you can identify what it is. Many people with addictive behaviors have become accustomed to avoiding emotions. They discover they have a limited understanding of feelings. Take this as an opportunity to get to know yourself better. Pay attention to what is going on, how it feels, and where it sits in the body. Give it a name if that feels right. If feelings are the enemy, now is the time to make friends with it because you have it with you for life.
Sit With It
The Buddhists have a saying ‘what we resist persists.’ Feelings are like messages. Instead of resisting the message, try to take it in. think about what this feeling is trying to tell you. Anger may be a sign of crossed boundaries or feelings that have been stuffed down. Sadness or fear can tell people something about what they value most. Loneliness may be a clue that a person needs more connection in life and a forging of new relationships.
Distract with Overwhelming Emotions
It is important to learn how to sit with and tolerate your feelings. There are times when it is best to turn down the volume on those feelings. This happens by distracting oneself. If feelings are building up, it may be a good time to step back and figure out what is overwhelming you in the moment. Try:
- Creating a list of places you can go
- Activities you can do
- People you can contact or spend time with if your feeling triggers become overwhelming
Keep this list in a safe space that is easily accessible. This can help you find a way of dealing with those overwhelming emotions in a healthy way. Feelings are a temporary state, they come and they go. As time goes by in recovery, you will be better able to cope with feelings, even those that are unpleasant. Practice the techniques above and embrace the life you are living now.
Sound Recovery helps you get present in the moment with our programs, services and resources. If you are struggling with difficult emotions and want to find help for addiction, we will support your journey with our extensive programs and services. We are here to guide you through the steps to recovery. If you are struggling with addiction, let us help. Call us at 561-277-3088 to get started.