When I am in the Addiction Cycle it is very important that I ‘check in’ with myself to see how I am feeling. The great response by one of the blog’s regulars, Mary, to yesterday’s post is a great segue into the final Question of this series. Mary showed us that repeatedly asking ourselves, “What am I afraid of?” is important when we feel overwhelmed by fear or anxiety. Mary effectively demonstrated that we need to be aware of our root feelings in times of crisis.
When I first entered my recovery program I had a difficult time evaluating my feelings. I had been ‘numbing out’ from my emotional pain for so long that I couldn’t tell you how I was feeling when I was in the Cycle. When I was in the Addiction Cycle it was easy to just feel ‘upset’ and to want to make myself feel better through acting out. These days, by conducting a ‘feeling’ exercise I am less likely to struggle with surface emotions (“I’m lonely”) and can instead deal with the root problems. Here is an example of what my own ‘feeling’ exercise might look like:
Q: What am I feeling right now?
A: I feel really lonely, and it hurts.
Q: Why do I feel lonely, and why does it hurt?
A: I have been ‘triggered’ by people around me and without attention from them I feel worthless, unaccepted and alone. I feel like I need to be validated by others to have a sense of worth.
Q: Is it true that I am worthless without the attention of others? If that ‘trigger’ does give me attention, will that fulfill my true emotional and spiritual needs? Am I seeking acceptance through sex? Why don’t I feel like I have any value?
A: I grew up feeling lonely a lot . I started acting out to hide from the pain of that loneliness. I didn’t learn to cope with loneliness as a child by developing a relationship with myself, so I feel lonely now. I didn’t learn to accept myself, so without the acceptance of others I have no sense of self-worth.
Q: Do I believe that God loves me and accepts me for who and what I am? Do I believe that Jesus Christ died for me knowing in advance all the sins I would commit? Do I believe that I can learn to accept myself and find value in myself? Do I believe that my value as a human being is known and appreciated by my family and friends?”
I will end the example there, but the questions could go on until I feel I have thoroughly vetted my feelings while in the Addiction Cycle.
Today’s Challenge: The next time you are in the Addiction Cycle ask yourself how you are feeling. Keep asking yourself how you are feeling until you think you have reached the root issues at work in your life. This is a difficult challenge and takes a lot of discipline, but the rewards are well worth the effort.