When suffering from an active addiction, we have a tendency to numb the natural emotions that our body needs to express. We do this for a number of reasons- because we’re nervous, we want to avoid a situation, or are scared to accept reality. In early recovery, your feelings and emotions will be a roller coaster ride. Recovery is like day and night; while you will feel excited about being healthy, you will also be stressed about coping without substances. You may be nervous reading this- thinking that you are alone in your thoughts and feelings. The truth is; these are normal reactions to detoxing. You will have euphoric bursts and sorrowful downs. Here are some of the most common emotions you will experience and how to address them:
- Happiness: The feeling we try to achieve every day, all day, 24/7. This feeling can be simply achieved by waking up with a smile on our face and taking in the natural sunlight. The more of an effort you make to remain positive, the easier it will be to become content. Being genuinely happy promotes a greater sense of self-confidence and will motivate you to achieve your goals in a timely fashion. By experiencing joy, you will be more satisfied with your accomplishments and think that you are worthwhile, and our brain is wired to connect to others best through joy so you will be helping to move through that social anxiety many of us feel.
- Sadness: In reality, no one wants to experience this feeling, yet it is unavoidable. We tend to experience sadness if there is either pain or loss involved- it is a normal human emotion. Throughout this time, your body will undergo many changes, including an adjustment in temperature, appetite, and stress. While in recovery, this is one of the most common emotions that cause a relapse. That being said, sadness should be addressed. Unless you have been sober for nearly 100 years, seek support. Whether it’s talking to a counsellor or joining a support group, accept help and open yourself up to new possibilities. It’s ok to not be ok- it teaches us lessons and establishes future goals. Learning to accept and move through sadness is one of the gifts of recovery and one of its most necessary skills.
- Anger: The blow-up emotion that can sabotage a lot of things in our life. Being angry can cause us to say things we don’t mean. We might shut down, become aggressive, and not only hurt ourselves, but others as well. Like sadness, we need to understand that this is a normal feeling! People are going to have a build-up of negative feelings that must be expressed somehow. For this reason, we need to reach out to our support system. Talking it out will release pessimistic energy about any addiction-related issues which in turn will promote a healthier outlook.
- Nervousness: Also known as the butterfly emotion, nervousness usually affects us at the worst times. Being fresh out of treatment and in active recovery, there will be many new situations that will make you feel vulnerable and uncomfortable. Fear not! We have all been in the“newcomer”phase. The belly knots can be caused by many different situations and some people deal with it better than others. For instance, those with anxiety do not appreciate nerve-wrecking situations. In recovery, it is important to adopt an open and positive mindset to deal with the ever-present feeling of tenseness.