December 18 - "Emotion, Emotions" Everywhere...and not a Drop to Drink (Eat, Work, etc.)!

From a very early age on, most of us have tried to camouflage our emotions with some sort of behavior designed to “make us feel better.”

This is a result of being taught that “we shouldn’t cry” or “we need to go away until we are not angry anymore” or even that “we shouldn’t show our excitement when we win for we might make someone else feel bad.” For many of us, it became necessary to find a way to keep our emotions hidden in order to comply with these instructions. Unfortunately, many december 675 of these behaviors then turned into habits that often had a way of becoming addictive in nature.

Eventually, they started to turn on us and began to bring more pain than they did safety from the potential consequences of “disobeying our parents”! As an adult, it is in our best interest to replace these old habits with ones that will promote good health and deep connections with both ourselves and our loved ones.

We will have a better chance of succeeding if we know what to expect and can be prepared for it. Addiction rarely responds well to surprises! I remember hearing the advice that mothers of young children should always be expecting spilled milk…because then when it does happen they will not be as upset! Spilled milk is a natural part of childhood, so why let an upside-down glass of milk turn your day upside-down as well?

“Spilled” emotions are similar in that they are a natural part of the “childhood” of recovery from addictive habits; we need to expect to experience them just as a mother would expect to experience spilled milk. For years I was one drink, one candy bar, or one shopping spree away from sadness and anger. At the first hint of such emotion, I would buy something new or take a sip or a bite of a mood-altering substance. It would temporarily numb my emotions, but it did nothing to express the emotions…they were trapped inside of me. When I finally committed to connect with myself, connect with my emotions and I abstained from my addictive habits, I was stunned by the chaotic manner of their arrival. Joyous one moment, I could be sobbing the next. A slight injustice might trigger rage or fury. Oftentimes I really did not know what to do.

Here are a few of the things I wish I had known then…so that you may know them now.

First of all, remember this deluge of emotions is only temporary…it is from a lifetime of not expressing these emotions. Once you have started releasing them on a consistent basis, the unpredictability of their arrival will settle down.

Second, expect and welcome these feelings; don’t fight them. You have been trying to ignore these feelings most of your life. The arrival of these emotions now signals you are doing your job well…you have resisted the temptation of your addictive behavior long enough to be able to experience your emotions once again.

Third, explore them with curiosity. After all, they really are the keys to your internal wisdom. You might ask, “When did I feel this way before? What did I need then that I did not receive? What am I to learn from this memory?”

Fourth, when you begin to sense your answer, grab a pen and paper and use them to express what you are discovering. Put all of those emotions onto that piece of paper…it may rip or become soggy with tears, but it will also help you truly alleviate your internal pain.

Fifth, make a plan to share what you have learned with others who are there to support you. Ask them to help you to see it differently. Open your mind to new ways of viewing the world. As you continue to journal, share and reevaluate your feelings, for they will eventually return to normal and soon you will be in touch with the message you are to share with others; this is truly the purpose of your life.

What have you used to cover up your feelings over the years? When did you first begin to do this? Are you willing to learn to express your feelings instead? Will you remember to expect “spilled milk” so that you won’t be surprised if your tears “runneth” over? And if they do, will you honor them as the wisdom of your soul?

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