Sometimes feelings are uncomfortable and through addiction one learns how to change, enhance and avoid feelings so that we don’t have to sit with the discomfort created by some emotions.
But it is these emotions that make us human. Its normal to feel sad, angry, hurt, embarrassed, guilty, just as it is normal to feel happy, joyful, love etc. Addiction creates a faulty belief that “we should never be uncomfortable, physically or emotionally” and so we use or engage in high risk behaviours to change those emotions as soon as we can.
The TC program teaches us that “feelings function” – meaning that all of our feelings, both the positive and negative, have a function and rather than blocking them or pushing them aside, we need to learn how to sit with them and respond constructively.
When an individual stops using drugs and/or alcohol, they go through a period of feeling extreme emotions, happy one minute, sad the next, then angry five minutes later. There are both physiological and psychological reasons for this which ultimately requires the individual to speak about those feelings and feel heard, to gain an understanding that given some more time; these emotions will balance out to a more manageable level.
One of the heaviest emotions to sit with for a person early in recovery is the guilt associated with their addiction. The people they have hurt, crimes they have committed, opportunities they have let go by and relationships that have been broken down. This guilt can be overwhelming and feel almost impossible to deal with, however the support provided by the TC program allows the individual the safe space to speak about that guilt and begin to process and understand how they got there. Guilt won’t be lifted all at once, it is a process, however we believe that ‘shame dies on exposure’ and by sharing and relating with others, the individual is able to move through those feelings of guilt until they are at a level that provides motivation for change rather than hold them back.
Next time you feel a difficult emotion, try to sit with it, talk about it with someone else, try to understand where it came from. Because if you just push it aside all the time it becomes bottled up until eventually it must come out in some way or another. Remember, feelings function, so don’t be afraid of them.
For more information about our program please contact us on 0217826242, visit our website www.falsebaytc.co.za and find us on Twitter and Facebook.