Helen Keller once said, “The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart.” There are many quotes about living your life to the fullest, about experiencing sadness and feeling your emotions. Humans do not exist without emotions and feelings. However, emotions can become overwhelming and heartbreaking when a person experiences trauma or adverse childhood experiences (ACEs).
Due to ACEs, a person may not learn how to feel or express their emotions appropriately. This can lead to substance use disorder (SUD). In order to heal from a SUD, a person has to feel and talk about their emotions and the experiences that led them to abuse substances in the first place. You may ask, is it necessary to feel and acknowledge your emotions while getting sober – Laguna Shores Recovery Center can help you find answers to this question.
Adverse Childhood Experiences
ACEs are adverse or negative experiences in childhood. Many people understand and experience trauma throughout their lives. However, ACEs are a better description of understanding the trauma that affects a person’s development. Examples of ACEs are:
- Experiencing violence or neglect
- Substance abuse problems in the home
- Growing up in poverty
- Unstable households or parents
The list of ACEs a person can experience goes on. How you are raised, the environment you are raised in, and your biology all factor into ACEs.
You may have heard people debate how much nature versus nurture influences a person’s growth. That debate is about how much a person’s natural biology and environment affect them versus how much receiving care and guidance from a parent affects a person. However, both nature and nurture are integral during a child’s early developmental years. Children have social, emotional, and educational needs that must be met for healthy development. Unfortunately, because of ACEs, some children do not receive the care and guidance they need to grow into emotionally healthy teenagers and adults.
Emotions Come From Thoughts
Emotions are a state of mind that comes from mood, circumstances, and interactions with others. When someone cuts you off in traffic, when someone shows you affection, or when you hear bad news, these all cause a variety of strong emotions. Traffic might cause you to be irritable and angry, and affection can make you feel happy and loved.
The emotions a person feels come from their thoughts. That may sound weird, but thoughts have strength. For example, by thinking negatively about themselves, a person will feel sad, angry, or disappointed. When a person cannot handle their emotions and thoughts, this will lead to action. Back to the example, if a person has enough negative thoughts, they might turn to substances to cope with the feelings.
When a person has SUD and ACEs, thinking about substances can lead to cravings, and cravings can lead to a relapse. Again this is because thoughts lead to emotions, which can lead to behaviors to manage the emotions. It is all connected
To have emotional intelligence, a person must be aware of their emotions, feel them appropriately, and control or healthily express them. Emotional intelligence is learned. A child views the behavior of their parents and other adults in their lives and learns how to control their emotions based on what they see and are told.
If a child is told not to cry and that their emotions are invalid, then they do not develop the emotional intelligence that helps them understand why they are upset. That child will grow into an adult who does not understand why they have certain feelings or levels of feelings in inappropriate moments. On the other hand, if a child can see a parent express emotions healthily, they, in turn, can do the same.
Understanding emotions is difficult, and emotional intelligence takes a lifetime to master. However, people practice it every day. Doing things such as:
- Walking away from an argument when you are angry
- Taking a day off from work when you are burnt out
- Expressing hurt feelings or needs to a partner
By healthily expressing your emotions and learning to understand them, you are gaining emotional intelligence. Which you will need anytime you interact with others or experience hardship. Having emotional intelligence means a person can cope.
Why Feeling Your Emotions Is Necessary
Some people go through childhood without ACEs. However, every person will experience some sort of trauma in their lives, whether from a car crash to developing SUD. Humans have the capacity for great intelligence and thought, which comes with emotions, as previously established. They are inescapable.
You have to interact with other people no matter what. Whether to buy food, work or walk to the park, you will run into other people. And they will make you feel things. Either joy, frustration, excitement, love, sadness, the list of emotions goes on.
Learning to feel your emotions appropriately is necessary because you will always have feelings. Even if you try to push them away, they will always find a way to come out and be felt. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) says that by learning and developing emotional intelligence, you can reduce the risk of substance misuse.
You Can Get Help Feeling Your Emotions
Through outpatient programs, inpatient programs, or extended care programs, you can work with peers and therapists who can help you identify the emotions you are feeling and help you figure out how to express them appropriately.
Emotional learning is not something you have to do alone. When you have never been taught to feel your emotions, you most likely will not be able to name them. Going through a treatment facility such as Laguna Shores Recovery Center for SUD or co-occurring mental disorders can be a great benefit.
Emotions can feel out of control when you have never learned how to identify your feelings or express them healthily. They can feel like a rollercoaster that never stops. At Laguna Shores Recovery Center, we know life has many different hardships and experiences that cause harm. Through our professional and experienced staff, we can help you experience and learn your emotions through group therapy, individual therapy, and experiential learning courses. Oftentimes substance use disorders develop from harm done to a person. By learning to process and feel your emotions, you can heal the wounded parts of yourself that lead to the development of your disorder. Call us at (866) 774-1532, so we can find the right program for you.