Emotions are a part of our internal make-up. All emotions derive from two core feelings: love and hate. Slice it how you want, all the positive feelings we have stem from a form of love, all the negative feelings stem from hate.
I just finished reading a great book (I reviewed it – the link to that will be up within a couple of weeks) called, “Why You Drink and How to Stop” by Veronica Valli. I was skeptical at first, but I kept an open mind and although I am over six years into my sobriety, I learned some valuable information from this book regarding emotions.
One of the worst behaviors I ever learned was “acting out based on emotion.” Being a woman who wears her heart on her sleeve, if something made me feel sad or angry, I would act accordingly. Likewise, if something made me feel happy or fuzzy, the addict in me would react in a positive manner and want more, more, more.
Now, human beings are emotional beings. Duh, like I am telling you something you do not already know. However, when we let our emotions rule us, we get into trouble. There is no law or rule that dictates “everyone must know how everyone feels all the time.”
I will share a psychotic story from my past:
When I was 22 years old, I was already married for six years. Yep, I got married when I was 16. It was part of that whole “alcoholic thinking.” As an alcoholic, I thought outside circumstances could fix the way I felt inside always.
I had found out my husband at the time was cheating on me and I went ballistic. Like full on rage mode: seeing red, black, shaking, and everything else, that comes with unabated rage. Being ruled by my emotions (all stemming from hate) I decided to do what I thought was in my best interests and show him.
So, being out of my mind (and to make a long story short) I wound up smashing my beautiful 1986 Monte Carlo into his pick-up truck. Yeah, not smart. This is not the best way to express emotion! Now I had new feelings and emotions to deal with: remorse, guilt and sorrow.
In the midst of the insanity, I thought I was expressing emotion in a healthy way! I mean, I was pissed and needed to let someone know, right? Well, maybe… but there are healthier ways to express emotion.
One of the best tools I learned in sobriety is to take a moment and calm the hell down. Just because I am feeling “some kind of way” does not mean I need to freak out, hop in my car to drive like a maniac or start throwing dishes.
Some of the ways I have successfully controlled my emotions:
- Calling a sponsor or a friend and talking it out.
- Deep breathing.
- Chanting a mantra. “Feelings aren’t facts, facts aren’t feelings.”
- Going for a walk or some other physical exercise.
- And yes, even taking a nap.
I know I have brought up journaling a bit in previous posts, but writing does help. Moreover, finding what helps (not hinders or hurts) to control and deal with emotions is the key.
I still have a tendency to wear my heart on my sleeve, which may just be one of those character defects I have to learn to control if it has not been removed.
How do you express emotion?