The Emotional Barometer Explosion That Precedes Relapse
Understanding Your Emotional Barometer Could Prevent Relapse.
99% of humans have an emotional barometer. As humans we’re created to experience many emotions like anger, sadness, happiness and joyfulness. Unfortunately, many of us have been raised by family and conditioned to believe that certain emotions are wrong to have or we’re wrong for acting out on them. We can handle these emotions in either a negative way or a positive way. Emotional signals are what we must pay attention to. It’s like the game in grade school “Red Light Green Light”.
When First Coming into Recovery…
When we first come into recovery our whole emotional barometer is out of whack because of excessive drug and alcohol use, so we can’t differentiate the truth from the false by having the ability to tell if our emotion is a green light, yellow light or red light. We’ve used drugs and alcohol for so long as our solution to not feel these emotions and to avoid addressing them. If you are feeling angry, it is a signal that something is wrong. It could be that someone is actually disrespecting you, or you are holding a perception you are being mistreated. If you are feeling sad, perhaps you are missing something or someone you wish you had. Likewise, feelings of happiness and joy are signs that you appreciate an experience or your thoughts are of gratitude and abundance.
If your a non-objective reader…
This article may give some incite to people who don’t understand addiction and how the cycle of repetition works. Addicts through many years of substance use have trained their brains to use drugs and alcohol as their solution. The only way to reverse this is with the practice of processing emotions regularly to avoid the overflow of the emotional barometer.
What Happens to Our Emotions?
So what happens when you don’t pay attention to your emotional barometer and process your emotions properly? Your emotions are stored in your subconscious mind and in your body. Let me give you an example…
Many years throughout my life I had many emotions built up inside of me with no knowledge of how to process them. I was heavily addicted to drugs and alcohol, which gave me a sense of ease and comfort without having to process my emotions. However, as soon as the drugs and the alcohol wore off I was right back to the same feeling unless I picked up a drink or a drug. So your first step is to stop ignoring your emotions. Use them to tell you what’s next.
Above is a depiction of our emotional barometer and illustrates how it effects us and causes relapse. As you can see there is a certain point where one has to open up or the pressure will cause explosion. The bottom of this article provides some incite to a solution.
Emotional Balance is a Solution
To a new person in recovery the same concept applies We as addicts and alcoholics have been stuffing these emotions deep down inside of us and once we have removed the drink and the drug those emotions surface creating your emotional barometer.
12 Step fellowships were created to alleviate this issue and if a recovering addict or alcohol were to go through this process they would learn a new way to process and cope with these emotions. Some may find it hard in the beginning of their recovery to see the light at the end of the tunnel, but there is a solution. So the question is how can we keep our emotional barometer from exploding and causing a relapse. What do you need to do differently?
How do we avoid our emotional barometer from exploding?
There are many things you can do to manage and release your emotions before your emotional barometer explodes and causes relapse. Below are just a few to illustrate…
- Speak up immediately. Sometimes someone does something that hurts or angers us. It can be easy, especially if it is something small, to let the issue pass without saying anything. It is important you let others know how you are feeling so many little issues don’t build into a volcano
- Join a self-help group or a 12 step recovery fellowship. Find groups on the internet or forums where you can vent privately and share how you feel. Ask for feedback
- Evaluate and change your thoughts. Many of our emotions come from the thoughts we have. Negative thinking can be so automatic for some people. Most times they don’t even realize they’re doing it. The next time you find yourself feeling unhappy, pay attention to your thoughts. Try changing your thoughts to something positive and see if your emotions follow.
- It’s important to understand that you can’t stop what people say or do, but you can stop how you let it affect you.
What Else Can We Do?
- Look at the boundaries in your life. A boundary is an emotional line you draw that tells people what your limits are. Are you allowing others to step over your boundaries? Pay attention to and honor your limits. Know when to say no to protect your emotional and physical health.
- Take time to refuel. Pay attention to your short fuse and irritability. This is probably a sign that you need to do something to take care of yourself. Schedule some fun and relaxation time for yourself. This will do wonders for putting your emotions in check.
- Prayer and Meditation. Use prayer or meditation as an outlet to express your emotions. When I pray, I ask God to take my anger and sadness away. Prayer and meditation give you the alone time you sometimes need to process your feelings.
- Laughter releases endorphins in your brain – the “feel good” hormone. Watch a hilarious movie or comedy skit. Read a light hearted joke book. Do something that makes you laugh yourself silly.
- My doctor has always said exercise is the best antidepressant on the market. Blow off some steam by taking a brisk 30 minute walk. Relax with a yoga class. Do a little cardio and punch and kick until your heart’s content.
- Take 30 minutes every morning to write in a journal anything and everything that you are feeling. Process everything that is going on in your life. Journalism is amazing and excellent for processing feelings. Not only will it help you release your emotions, journaling will help you learn a lot about yourself. You may even come up with creative solutions to life’s problems.