The ability to handle one’s emotions is an important part of leading a balanced life, and making progress in recovery. A person with a lack of emotional maturity will find themselves facing one difficulty after another, especially when it comes to relationships, self awareness, and other significant areas of adult life.
Many people who have a hard time understanding and processing their emotions do eventually turn to drugs or alcohol to cope. Unfortunately, when they do reach recovery, the issue of emotional maturity is still an issue and may be worse than ever. In order to successfully make a change in recovery, emotional sobriety must be achieved.
Emotional sobriety can be defined as the ability to cope with feelings in a healthy way. Someone who is emotionally sober still feels happiness, sadness, anger, and other strong emotions, but knows how to handle them so that they don’t control their behavior or become overwhelming.
Emotional sobriety also means being able to fully experience feelings without having to run away from them through use of drugs, alcohol, or other means of escape. This ability builds a deep sense of peace and strength within a person that helps them face any hardships that may come along in life. Other characteristics of emotional sobriety include:
-the ability to live fully in the present with carrying resentments from the past, or planning too much for the future.
-the ability to observe and regulate one’s own behavior.
-a basic ability to cope with stresses, obstacles, and other conflicts that come naturally with life.
-not turning to any substance or activity to escape feelings.
-having a generally positive perspective on life.
-being able to have positive and meaningful relationships with others.
-not getting carried away by strong emotions.
Those who have never developed emotional maturity, either because they began abusing substances at a young age or never learned from any life lessons or difficulties, can continue to be carried away by feelings for their whole lives without knowing it. Reaching emotional sobriety can be a jarring and painful process, but it’s one that always leads to a more positive life experience.
The importance of emotional sobriety in recovery.
Because recovery can feel like an emotional rollercoaster, especially during the early stages, it’s important to know what emotional sobriety is and begin working toward building it. A good place to start is by recognizing dangerous emotions that may arise. These include:
-Anger and resentment
-Fear and anxiety
-Boredom and restlessness
Learn how to recognize these feelings in yourself and find new methods to cope. Some useful strategies include:
-A daily mindful meditation practice will train the mind to view emotions more objectively and to experience the present moment more fully. Mindfulness develops a greater sense of control over emotions and a healthier perspective of them as they arise throughout the day.
-View challenges that arise in life as opportunities to grow. This can be quite difficult, but changing your perspective about negative events and conflicts makes it possible to grow wiser and stronger, rather than hold on resentment and bitterness. Dealing with obstacles rather than running away from them is a big step toward changing the way you look at conflict.
-Keep a recovery journal that charts your progress, as well as any difficulties you face. This is a great way to look back on all that you’ve accomplished and to learn from past experiences.