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Emotional Sobriety

There are two types of sobriety; physical and emotional. 
Physical sobriety must come first for emotional sobriety to even be possible.

One of the most difficult factors in early recovery is dealing with our feelings. 

This is especially true for those of us who have used and abused various substances in an effort to become and remain “Comfortably Numb” as much as possible.

Then there are those of us who sought out comfort in an assortment of relationships. Very few of them lasted more than a year or two, and most all of them were fellow substance abusers and/or relationship addicts as we were.

Whatever our chronological age, emotionally we were behaving like immature, petulant adolescents.

We only thought we were mature adults. Our actions proved otherwise. We thought more about what others could do for us, rather than what we could do for them. When we did give of ourselves, our giving was conditional and limited. Our desire to give was more about what we hoped to get in return. We liked to believe that we were being generous and kind-hearted, but in all truth, we were self-centered and self-seeking most of the time.

Without even realizing it, we were living in full-blown denial about ourselves and the fantasy world we lived in.

Most-likely we didn’t start out living that way. It just sort of happened as a result of events that took place in our life. Someone hurt us and we didn’t understand why. Or maybe we inadvertently (or perhaps intentionally) did or said something to or about someone that was hurtful. We were or became overly sensitive as a result. We didn’t know how to make things right. Or perhaps we tried but it didn’t seem to work out for whatever reason. So we became hardened, emotionally. We built emotional barriers in an effort to avoid being hurt like that again. We became harsh and sometimes cruel towards others who probably didn’t deserve it.

We developed unhealthy ways of dealing with stressful people, places, and situations, because we didn’t how to properly deal with our feelings (emotions). 

We became fearful that others would discover how inept, incompetent and helpless we felt. So we came up with ways to mask our fears and insecurities. When we could no longer hide from them ("stuff our feelings down"), they became too much to deal with. So we “acted-out” in ways harmful to ourselves and those around us. Since we didn’t know how to cope with our feelings, we began to use, people, places, and situations in an abusive and harmful manner; seeking to blot-out – however temporary – our fears and emotions.
In psychology, coping means to invest one's own conscious effort to solve personal and interpersonal problems, in order to try to master, minimize or tolerate stress and conflict. The psychological coping mechanisms are commonly referred to as coping strategies or coping skills. Wikipedia 
RELATED: Chapter 11 Stress, Health, and Human Flourishing PowerPoint® Presentation by Jim Foley

2. REACHING OUT – to an addictive agent, such as work, food, sex, alcohol, or dependent relationships to salve our pain.
5. SHAME AND GUILT – which result in more pain or low self-esteem.
In the Alcoholics Anonymous suggested program of recovery, a method is given to help those caught up in their denial, so that they may overcome their fears and insecurities. By taking a look at our personal history in a manner that reveals our past behavior issues and difficulties, we can put an end to the seemingly endless vicious cycle and learn new ways to deal with and work through situations that used to paralyze us with fear and loathing!

But we cannot do it alone. We need to work with someone else. Preferably someone who knows and understands the process of recovery from personal experience. In so doing, the experienced individual can help us get past our denial and help us see clearly the true nature of our weaknesses and help us identify our strengths. 

With a clear and honest evaluation of ourselves, we can then move forward and grow secure in our new-found freedom from doubt and shame. We can look ourselves in the mirror and smile once again. We can look others in the eye, with a better understanding of ourselves and the world in which we live. 

No longer do we carry the weight of the world on our shoulders, because we are beginning to understand that we no longer have a need to control every circumstance and situation that arises. We are now free to be ourselves and can accept ourselves and others as flawed, imperfect individuals. 

We now understand that everyone is on a journey and that it is not our responsibility to ensure everything fits together according to our (or someone else’s) grand design. We begin to understand that we can relax and leave the results in the capable hands of an all-powerful and all-loving Creator, who actually knows what is best for each and every one of us. We can live in the peace and serenity that we always desired but never thought was possible for us to actually experience – day in and day out.

But we can only do this as long as we continue to practice all the principles contained within the steps of the suggested program of recovery, as laid out for us by the co-founders and pioneers of what is now known as Alcoholics Anonymous.


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