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