As we go through the day it’s perfectly normal to encounter a wide range of emotions. Some of these will be pleasurable while others are uncomfortable or downright painful. Prior to the program we sought a release from feelings which caused us discomfort or pain through our drug of choice. Because we buffered feelings with alcohol, drugs or food, we never really got a chance to find a resolution to many of these painful circumstances. When a difficulty came up, we just covered it with a substance.
In sobriety, we have chosen a different pathway. When things happen in our lives which cause us to become angry, resentful, fearful or sad, we no longer attempt to escape. Rather, we allow ourselves to feel the feelings. Sobriety has helped us to identify these feelings and seek a solution to whatever is bothering us. We no longer need to cover over our problems. We can take steps to deal with the anger, fear, or any other emotion which has overrun us. Over time we evolve strategies which help us avoid many life situations which in the past would have caused us harm. Utilizing the steps we begin to heal the wreckage of our past.
Personal Reflection: Am I walking around with unresolved feelings?
There are a wide variety of meetings for 12 step members. Some are specifically designed to address particular issues. For example there is a recognition that some of the problems that men and women face are different due to their individual natures. Recently, at a men’s meeting a fellow was sharing about his father. He described an incident where he and his father attended the funeral for his uncle. His father had come from a large family and had already buried a number of siblings. As they lowered the coffin into the ground, everyone except the father was crying. The member turned to his dad and asked him why he wasn’t crying. He also pointed out that at previous funerals, the same thing had occurred. His father turned to him and said, “I can’t. I wasn’t brought up that way”. As the fellow at the meeting told the story, he began to cry about the stoicism of his father.
Many of us were brought up not to cry. We were told, “real men don’t cry”. We learned not to show our feelings and along the way discovered alcohol and drugs to aid us in this endeavor. We now know that G-d gave us the ability to cry for a reason. Real men do cry and real women do cry.
Personal Reflection: Am I able to show my feelings to others?
Before entering the program our days just ran one into the other. They were filled with dishonesty, fear, resentment and self loathing. We couldn’t understand why we were so unhappy. Our lives were not working for us; but we were in total denial as to the cause. Somehow there was a disconnect between our actions and how they affected our feelings. As a result, a vicious cycle was created where feelings and actions fed off of one another.
We have now come to understand that our feelings are causally related to our actions. We need to take the right actions to positively influence our feelings. Each of us has developed a daily program to keep us spiritually fit. Some common denominators include prayer, making meetings, and doing service. Others have also incorporated meditation, journaling, exercise and conscious eating. On any day that we are feeling depressed, angry, resentful, jealous or ungrateful, we focus on our actions as opposed to our feelings. We do a quick self assessment and examine which steps in our daily repertoire have we neglected as of late. We then take an action.
Personal Reflection: How are you feeling today?