The idea of hiding from our feelings is rooted in a society that we view as uninterested in how we feel and in our own need to appear strong and unfeeling. However, acting on these premises can be toxic to your mental health. Avoiding or ignoring your emotions can also be toxic in your recovery. One thing that is necessary for recovery is claiming all of yourself, including all of your emotions.
God created all emotions, not declaring them good or bad. Rather, how we deal with our emotions impacts life in either a negative or positive way. While we are eager to eradicate discomfort, living with discomfort allows us to better experience the joy and wonders of life. If we have not experienced anger and sadness, how can we expect to appreciate the redemption and joy of a full life?
What Is Emotional Intelligence?
Emotional intelligence involves the ability to identify, regulate, and respond to emotions. Emotional intelligence is not just about our own emotions, but about feeling empathy toward the emotions of others. Emotional intelligence improves your health and the relationships you have with others. Emotional intelligence is not identifying and then stuffing your emotions. The beauty of emotional intelligence is in your ability to grow and succeed in your life.
The Impact of Emotional Intelligence in Recovery
As we enter recovery, stuffing our emotions is easier. Avoiding our past hurts and actions does not build us into the person God created us to be. Instead, avoiding our emotions makes them stronger, making recovery more difficult. The saying to “fake it until you make it” can be helpful in some aspects, but faking happiness and positivity robs you of your growth potential.
Working the Twelve Steps involves some heavy emotional lifting, not only for your own life, but also in helping others face their own pain and suffering. Recovery is not accomplished in isolation. Also, having emotional intelligence will only aid in the navigation of your hurts, habits, and hang-ups.
An important element of emotional intelligence is being able to communicate your feelings. In some group therapy rooms, there is a board of emotional words and how they relate to other emotional words. The presence of these boards is to aid you in identifying your emotions and develop the language to communicate your feelings and need for help. You might be wondering how many emotional words there can be, given that most people only think of the -ads: sad, mad, glad. There are a myriad of emotional words, and understanding the emotion vocabulary can aid you in moving forward in your recovery.
During active use of alcohol and/or other substances, many people are avoiding their emotions and trying to numb out what they may not understand. Having a vocabulary to address these emotions can help you avoid the use of alcohol and/or other substances. Having emotional intelligence will help you build your emotional experiences into something you can use to move forward. Emotional intelligence boosts you in your recovery and into a life free of alcohol and/or other substances.
Give Yourself Permission to Feel
The idea of giving yourself permission to feel may seem silly, but is something we all need to do. Remind yourself that other humans have emotions, too – if they can feel them, you have the freedom to feel your emotions, as well. Stuffing emotions is common practice, but lends itself to regression and outbursts that cause more pain and suffering for all involved. Instead of stuffing, giving yourself the space to experience and talk about your emotions will only enhance who you are and your ability to cope with tough situations.
There are some ways you can remember to open yourself up to feel. One thing to do is to tell yourself aloud that feeling your emotions is normal and okay. Find a safe place and person with whom to share your emotions. Do not attempt to share emotions in unsafe places, or with people who might belittle them. Your emotions are valid and reflect your experiences.
Also, do not belittle yourself. Telling yourself that your feelings are invalid, you’re stupid, you shouldn’t feel this or that way, or that you have no right to feel a certain way is unfair and more likely to push you back into using alcohol and/or other substances to numb your feelings. Do not be a bully to yourself. Do not self-victimize.
You have every right to feel the way you feel. God does not create bad emotions, but how we manage our emotions can either damage us or build us. Do not destroy your potential for growth by not allowing yourself to feel. God made you an emotional being. The time has come for you to learn how to identify and manage your emotions so you can walk in the freedom God intended for you.
Recovery is multi-faceted and takes all of who you are. A major part of recovery is being able to identify and manage our emotions. Emotional intelligence comes easy for some people, but not many. At Renaissance Ranch, we offer valuable help to those who want to build a better life free from alcohol and/or other substances. At Renaissance Ranch, we offer a clinically driven and gospel-centered approach to recovery. We recognize that you are important and all of who God made you matters, including your emotions. If you or someone you know needs help in overcoming addiction to alcohol and/or other substances, you are not alone. Help is available for recovery. At Renaissance Ranch, we offer support for every step of the recovery process, including detox and sober living. Please call us today at (801) 308-8898 and begin the process of learning how to overcome your emotions and build sustaining change. You deserve a more balanced life.