A feeling is defined as “an affective state of consciousness in which joy, sorrow, fear, hate, or the like, is experienced, as distinguished from cognitive and volitional states of consciousness or emotional perception or attitude.” Some people identify their feelings with ease. For others, especially those recovering from drug or alcohol addiction, identifying feelings can be a challenge.
Years of drug addiction and alcohol abuse usually make one quite disconnected from their feelings. After years of using drugs or alcohol to numb pain, the ability to identify and experience true emotions is hindered. It is only through trial and practice that one gets better at it. Here are some tips to feeling your feelings for yourself:
- Print out a list of emotions. When you are feeling something, but aren’t sure what it is, take out your list. Read through it and see if you can identify what the feeling is. Some lists even include facial illustrations to help. Is it really anger or is it shame, frustration, or guilt. This is a way to expand your emotional vocabulary.
- Cultivate body awareness. Begin to notice your body. Notice the sensations in your head, neck, shoulders, back, torso, etc. You may notice a tightness in your chest. You may notice a smile on your face. You may notice butterflies in your stomach. Your body can be the window to your soul. When you cultivate body awareness, you enhance emotional awareness. If you are feeling clenched fists and a tightness in your chest, you may be feeling fear, for example.
- Write. The shortest path from your head to your heart is with a pen and paper. Taking the time to free write, writing whatever pops into your mind, can illuminate underlying feelings you may have not been aware of. Make this a daily practice for at least 10 minutes. Sometimes it takes a few layers of writing before we get to the heart of the matter.
- Move your body. Movement can be a great way to feel feelings. Skip when you feel joyful, attend a kickboxing class when you are angry, walk when you feel anxiety. Rather than fighting the emotion, the instinct for many recovering addicts, lean into it and let yourself feel it fully.
If you are new to feeling feelings for yourself, you might be afraid. Feelings are a gift and a sign you are alive. Dive in, fear and all.
There is freedom in recovery. Design For Change is changing lives one step at a time through a multifaceted treatment program and recovery services. Our 12 step based treatment programs offer a refuge from recovery bringing together families in the hope of sobriety. Call us today for information: (877) 267-3646