Can you imagine what your life could be like if you could resist the lure of addiction? When you choose to be free from the devastating effects addiction, you are making one of the most important choices you can make. Addicts who want to escape self destructive behavior learn they must make the choice to maintain physical sobriety every day; it’s not just a one-time deal. With the support of a good program and your own honest efforts, you can achieve physical sobriety, in other words, abstinence. To maintain that physical sobriety, you are going to need emotional sobriety. So let’s talk about the definition of emotional sobriety and how to achieve emotional sobriety.
Definition of Emotional Sobriety
To understand how emotional sobriety functions, we need to acknowledge that all addicts struggle with a fundamental dysfunction. Addicts learn to cope – if such an ineffective approach can be called coping – with uncomfortable emotions by turning to their addiction, tuning out their feelings and numbing their pain.
As an addict entering rehab, you start with an incomplete, or at the very least ‘rusty’ tool kit for confronting and processing uncomfortable emotions. You may also dwell in the past or worry obsessively about the future. Learning how to allow yourself to feel your feelings instead of pushing them away is an important part of recovery. You will develop skills for recognizing, experiencing, and processing emotion.
Definition: Emotional sobriety is the condition of experiencing and processing emotions in a normal, healthy way, remaining focused on and accepting of your present condition, self-aware and responsible, without too much focus on the past or future.
Problems Caused by Lack of Emotional Sobriety
Addicts who lack the skills for emotional sobriety face a host of problems. Greatest among them, of course, is turning to their addiction to shut off their feelings in times of stress, along with susceptibility to new addictions. Excessive dwelling on the past or worrying about the future denies the addict the ability to live and act effectively in the present moment. Not being able to regulate emotion or control behavior leads to an out of control roller-coaster feeling and difficult work and personal relationships.
Benefits of Emotional Sobriety
When you can feel and process your emotions, you regain control. You are not just reacting to stimuli like a rat in a cage, you are making a choice. You are choosing to allow yourself to honestly feel your emotions and you are choosing a course of healthy thought and action in response. It is a scary and overwhelming process at first, but you will find yourself growing stronger and stronger. You can do it! And when you gird yourself with emotional sobriety, you will be prepared to make the choice to maintain physical sobriety even when life throws you difficult emotional challenges that would have sent the ‘old you’ running for the worst possible ‘solution’ to your problems.
How to Achieve Emotional Sobriety
So now we know what emotional sobriety is, how you suffer when you don’t have it, and what you gain when reach emotional sobriety, let’s talk about how to get there.
Do The Work
The challenges that you will face on the road to recovery will allow you to build your emotional sobriety skills. You will learn healthy ways to cope with stressful situations and difficult emotions by practicing, by doing the work you were avoiding when you turned to your addiction. It is not easy, but it is very much worth the effort. You can make it easier by choosing a good, supportive environment to begin your practice.
Have Realistic Expectations
To succeed you must understand: Emotional sobriety doesn’t mean your problems will vanish; emotional sobriety means you will commit to practice recognizing and addressing problems in a healthy, mature way.
Learn to Feel Your Feelings
To achieve emotional sobriety, commit to being cognizant of your feelings as they happen. Be aware of and accept your real feelings and your real situation in the world around you. You can learn to listen yourself better through meditation.
Get to Know Yourself
Get to know yourself. Journaling, and individual and group therapy will allow you to talk through the feelings and experiences that drove you to addiction. Understanding past trauma and stories that you have been telling yourself – about who you are and why – will help you to find and free your authentic self.
Learn to Take Responsibility
Addicts often place themselves, in a sense, at the edge of their own story, a passive element, like a marble that rolls where it is pushed. For the addict, there are often external forces against which he or she is powerless, in his or her mind. Learn to take responsibility for your own thoughts and actions. See how you are truly at the center of your story. Don’t just accept responsibility, seize it.
Live a Good Life
No one should expect to be happy all the time, but you deserve to spend time with people who make you happy doing things that make you happy. Discover healthy activities that you enjoy. Find people who support your emotional sobriety to spend time with. Get outside, enjoy nature, and enjoy healthy nutrition, rest, and exercise. Breathe deep and enjoy the freedom you create for yourself when you develop emotional sobriety.
Take the First Step
Take the first step on the road to better life. You can do it! If you or someone you care about has a problem with drugs or alcohol, call one of our experts today on (toll free Australia) 1800 288 348 or +61 398045757 or email us at [email protected] and we will call you.
At Seasons Bali, we guide addicts to recovery by teaching them about the the physical, psychological, emotional, social and spiritual effects of addiction. Addicts recovering at Seasons Bali learn through balanced, structured activity to address their wellness as a whole person and achieve emotional sobriety using tools such as individual and group counseling, yoga, exercise, and meditation. Learn more about our Rehab Program in Bali for recovering from addiction and make a plan.