I've done a lot of work on myself since I quit drinking nearly 9 years ago. And the biggest thing has been to shift how I respond to uncomfortable emotions. It's taken quite a bit of work and time and ups and downs and reading and practicing.. but what I've come to is not only accepting my tough emotions when they arrive (stress, anxiety, sadness, anger etc).. but also responding to them with some kindness.
It's hard to explain because it's quite subtle and seemingly minor, but it's a been a delicate shift and powerful shift in my thinking and attitude toward my tricky emotions.
Being sober and raw 100% of the time means I feel everything in a very stark and pronounced way. When I get grumpy I get GRUMPY! Stress makes me STRESSED! Anger has me PISSED OFF, lows have me MOODY, sadness makes me GLUM and anxiety makes me ANGSTY. Sometimes I feel more than one thing at the same time or a week goes by when I'm a big mix of many.
And when I first got sober I'd just feel these emotions really keenly and hate them and rail against them and be a bit of a mess internally (and sometimes externally - sorry family!) and reach for crap food or whatever.
And after a while of being sober I'd still feel these shitty emotions (obviously, because life's like that) but I wouldn't rail so strongly against them. I'd still be GRUMPY, STRESSED, PISSED OFF, MODDY, GLUM and ANGSTY but I would be better at controlling myself and I'd sort of accept them for what they were and know they'd go eventually.
But then I started working on not just accepting these things, but feeling kind towards myself about feeling them as well. Kindly towards my gritty emotions. Kindly towards myself that I am feeling this way.
And it's made a difference. It's very subtle but it's lovely. It's compassion. I don't try to rationalise or justify or explain away or anything quite so much. I just feel the SHITTY HORRIBLE MOOD but also feel kindly towards myself for feeling in a funk. I have compassion towards myself for whatever events have generated this mood. I don't try to minimise it or make it go away, nor do I deny it and tell myself it doesn't matter and I should harden up.
I accept it and I feel some kindness towards myself. That's some deep, self-care shit going on inside me and I dig it.
Try it yourself. Try feeling kind towards yourself next time you're in a funk or feeling some sort of tough emotion. Try not only accepting the feeling.. but thinking kindly towards it as well. Like it's there for a reason, and that's perfectly okay. You may notice, like I have, that taking this approach is very nice and calming.
And I'll take nice and calm over boozy and distracted any day.
Mrs D xxx
This post, written years ago, resonates with where I am now. I’m in a total funk (you described it exactly as I do @mrsd) right now which seems a shame as it has been the Christmas holiday season and it’s hard to watch frivolity when inside I’m feeling so unsettled. In theory, being kinder to ourselves seems absolutely the right thing to do. But I don’t know how. I feel broken and scared despite a lot of successes since choosing a life without alcohol. So many things are better. But I’m not ok. I’m not sure if therapy has totally stirred things up. I was feeling a lot better and then I didn’t. I’m grateful that I don’t want to drink. Day 641. New Year’s Day 2023. I’m the only one who can make me better. But I don’t know how.
I love this post. I’m very familiar with feeling all sorts of things, but never thought of being kind and compassionate towards myself when I feel them! I’m that way when others feel these emotions. What a concept to do the same for myself! Thanks!!
Thanks for such a timely and wonderful post. I am just working through some issues from my past. Instead of beating myself up for those mistakes, which I have done many times, i’m going to try looking at them with kindness. I think I have learned from them and in that case they don’t seem like total failure.
Love this… I have tears 😢 .. that’s so my issue..I just needed it put into words..my current space is to continue to punish “my hurt me” for years of alcoholic abuse.. maybe I should just give myself a break start be kind to me and then maybe kindness will show it’s self to others..my funk is nobody can possibly like me… why should they when I don’t like myself… I’ll give self kindness a shot 😌 🙂
Nearly 11 months sober – thank you so much I needed to read that as am experiencing all those emotion s at times and never thought to stop and give myself a hug
trying to be kind to myself starts a self-dialogue that usually makes me laugh and relax-so it works!
Nicely put. It’s all life’s rich tapestry. Drinking made me feel numb a lot of the time or led me to experience life in a distorted way. The Naked Mind takes it all in and
deals with the emotional temperatures not unlike experiencing different seasons.
I love your way of explaining deep self-care shit. 😊😊
Thanks for this post Mrs D. Very timely. It reminds me of a Buddhist book I read many years ago when I was struggling with anger as an emotion. It talked of treating oneself kindly – like you would an angry child. Feel the emotion, acknowledge it and be gentle and kind to yourself through the feeling. I find now when I feel pissed off it doesn’t seem to last as long or rip up my insides as much if I practise loving kindness with myself.