Many of us living with addiction and mental illness have developed patterns of avoiding, suppressing and resisting our emotions, in particular the ones we find most difficult to handle. When we feel stressed out and overwhelmed, depressed and afraid, confused and ashamed, our instinct is often to shut down and try to stop feeling our emotions as much as possible. We use our drugs of choice as our means of escape and distraction. We seek comfort, relief and solace in them. Part of our recovery, though, is learning to not only feel our emotions when they appear, but also to find the valuable lessons and meaning within them.
Our difficult emotions point us to where we need healing, and when we listen to them rather than trying to suppress and ignore them, they teach us how to heal ourselves. They can give us direction on what our unhealed wounds are, what unresolved issues are still bringing us pain, and how we can go about making sense of them. When we’re depressed, for example, many of us shut down completely. We isolate ourselves. We don’t reach out for help or share our feelings with anyone. We stay in the house, or in the bed, for weeks and months at a time, turning to sleep, drugs, food or television to numb our pain. We do everything in our power to run from our emotions rather than facing them.
As we become more mindful of our feelings, we learn to accept them rather than resist them, to turn towards them rather than away from them. We learn that we can move through them rather than letting them overpower us and derail our healing. Within our depression lies the answers we need to help ourselves work towards healing. We often try to avoid thinking about the reasons why we’re depressed in the first place. We tell ourselves that our depression is beyond our control, that we’re powerless against it, or that we have an incurable medical condition so there’s no point in examining it any further. When we start to ask ourselves why we’re depressed, and listen for the internal guidance of our intuition, we allow the issues we’ve suppressed within us for so long to begin to emerge. We hear our inner voice telling us that our depression is coming from specific hurts we haven’t addressed yet, from certain troublesome relationships, or from particular patterns we’ve been developing unconsciously. The lessons we uncover in our emotions become our guidance towards healing. When we make the effort to learn from our feelings rather than avoid them, we give ourselves a real chance to heal ourselves.
Riverside Recovery understands all of the emotional challenges of addiction recovery and is here to support you. Call us today for more information: (800) 871-5440.