Learning to Identify Your Emotions in Sobriety

Learning to Identify Your Emotions in Sobriety

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When it comes to recovery from addiction to drugs and alcohol, people often tend to consider it from the point of view of thinking and behaving their way to maintaining their sobriety. The importance of identifying emotions should not be ignored, as it contributes a major part to recovery.

Emotion Has Three Components

When considering what emotion is, it’s easy to think it’s just feeling something like joy, sorrow, or fear, and the definition stops there. Emotions contain three important components, all of which can influence a person’s recovery. The three components are:

  • Subjective: How a person experiences an emotion
  • Expressive: How a person behaves in reaction to an emotion
  • Physiological: How a person’s body reacts to an emotion

The three components often interact, and how a person deals with one can affect the other two. Learning the importance of identifying emotions and how a person experiences each of the components can teach them a lot about how to handle life events, particularly in relation to recovery.

Experiencing Emotions In and Out of Sobriety

A person who constantly exists in a fog of alcohol and drugs often loses the ability to handle their emotions in a healthy manner. A short-lived emotion, such as a flash of anger, may lead to an inflated response not appropriate for a small transgression or piece of news. Emotions that last longer, such as mourning a loss, may become so overwhelming that a person cannot find their way to processing them.

For many, just identifying emotional reactions proves difficult. For example, they may focus anger on someone when they are really frustrated with something about themselves. Constantly being drunk or high causes a person to be in such a state of being unfocused, that trying to sit with their feelings and understand them can feel impossible. 

Often a person who feels ill-equipped to handle or identify emotional reactions may use that as a trigger to drink or use drugs. The more they engage in their addiction, the less capable they are of processing their emotions, keeping them rooted in an unhealthy cycle. 

How Emotions Help a Person Understand Themselves

When a person resides in recovery, they have more patience and desire to experience their emotions and put them in perspective. Knowing which emotions they feel, and the source of them, helps them determine what do to next. Some feelings simply need to be felt, then they can be released. 

A person might feel grumpy for no reason and can learn to let the bad mood exist for a short time, knowing it will end soon. This is a much healthier choice than using drugs or alcohol to try to make the feeling disappear. A person might feel an emotion they want to cover up or use as an excuse to “celebrate” by using drugs or alcohol. The importance of identifying emotions comes into play here by allowing the person to understand a feeling for what it is and react in a healthy way.

How Emotions Help a Person Understand Other People

A person who understands what they are feeling and why can communicate better with others. Directly stating what they feel and any feedback or dialogue they would like in relation to that helps everyone maintain healthy communication. The person’s clearer understanding of emotions will be communicated in more than just a verbal way. They may use facial expressions, body language, and tones of voice that give a clear indication of what they are feeling to others. 

Addiction often impacts relationships with family members and friends, causing rifts that cannot be healed until both parties can communicate openly and honestly. A person who understands their emotions can talk to their loved one, either alone or as part of a therapy appointment, and learn to really listen to them. The individual can also better impart their point of view by using “I statements”, such as “When you do this, I feel…” Many marriages, family relationships, and friendships can be repaired with this approach.

Identifying Emotions Helps in Planning for the Future

The importance of identifying emotions can help a person build a better future. A person who feels excitement about becoming social again may use that emotion to plan time with a friend or going to an event that ensures there won’t be a focus on drinking or using drugs. This reduces the risk of being disappointed in how things turn out. 

If the person feels anxiety about an upcoming event, such as a job interview or a college exam, they can use that emotion to inspire them to prepare for the occasion. If they feel sorrow, they can identify what is causing it and plan ways to soothe themselves without resorting to breaking their sobriety.

Outpatient Rehab in Phoenix

Committing to recovery from drug and alcohol addiction requires bravery and a willingness to commit to a treatment program proven to help you. Continuum Recovery Center in picturesque Phoenix offers a variety of outpatient therapy treatments designed to help you enter sobriety and stay there. We incorporate holistic options to help treat the mind, body, and soul. 

If you are ready to talk about changing your life and conquering addiction, contact Continuum Recovery Center today and let us help.