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In our quest to heal from our addictions and mental and emotional health issues, perhaps our greatest goal is to find emotional freedom. What is emotional freedom, and how can we achieve it? A common misconception about emotional healing is that we are trying to replace any negative emotions we feel with positive thinking and affirmations. Sometimes we’re afraid that feeling negative emotions is a sign we haven’t recovered yet. Another way we can look at it is that the emotions we associate with being negative such as fear, anger and sadness, are actually pointing us to the things that need to be resolved within us. We can choose to see them as serving us in our healing. We can learn to handle them without letting them derail our progress. This is one way to define emotional freedom.

When difficult feelings arise, our instinct is often to want to reject them. We don’t want to feel them. We resist them. We panic. We worry that because they’ve reappeared, they will always return to cause us pain. Instead, we can choose to sit with them, accept them, and let them be what they are. We can do deep breathing exercises and repeat affirmations to help neutralize the worry and anxiety. Then, instead of trying to push the feelings away, we can observe them. When we look at them closely without trying to run away from them, we can hear what they are trying to tell us. Often they are directing us to look at the unhealed wounds, recurring issues and unresolved pain that we are still struggling with. We can choose to look at these things and explore them with calm faith that we will heal, rather than with panic. When we are able to do this, we’re more likely to allow the difficult feelings to move through us without overtaking us.

The next time you’re hit with anger, fear, sadness or any other challenging emotion, instead of panicking, sit with it, and talk yourself through it. “I’m feeling really angry right now. It hurts. This is really hard.” Try not to react to the feelings with fear, which will only compound them and make them feel even more painful. Accept the feelings, let them wash over you. Sit with them, breathe through them. This can help you open yourself up to the feelings in order to heal them, rather than closing yourself off to them and trying to avoid them. With time, this practice helps you to feel difficult emotions without letting them completely take over you and cause you more pain. Emotional freedom isn’t the absence of painful feelings, but rather the ability to accept them, feel them, and move through them.

Learning to work with our emotions is an important part of recovery. Call (800) 871-5440 for more information on how we can help.