Experiencing feelings can be a challenge if we’ve had no previous experience or permission to do that. Learning to identify what we’re feeling is a challenge we can meet, but we will not become experts overnight. Nor do we have to deal with our feelings perfectly.
Here are some ideas that might be helpful as you learn to recognize and deal with feelings.
Take out a sheet of paper. On the top of it write, “If it was okay to feel whatever I’m feeling, and I wouldn’t be judged as bad or wrong, what would I be feeling?” Then write whatever comes to mind.
You can also use the favorite standby of many people in discovering their feelings: writing or journaling. You can keep a diary, write letters you don’t intend to send, or just scribble thoughts onto a note pad.
Watch and listen to yourself as an objective third person might. Listen to your tone of voice and the words you use. What do you hear? Sadness, fear, anger, happiness?
What is your body telling you? Is it tense and rigid with anger? Running with fear? Heavy with sadness and grief? Dancing with joy?
Talking to people in recovery helps too. Going to meetings helps. Once we feel safe, many of us find that we open up naturally and with ease to our feelings.
We are on a continual treasure hunt in recovery. One of the treasures we’re seeking is the emotional part of ourselves. We don’t have to do it perfectly. We need only be honest, open, and willing to try. Our emotions are there waiting to share themselves with us.
Today, I will watch myself and listen to myself as I go through my day. I will not judge myself for what I’m feeling; I will accept myself.
From the book: The Language of Letting Go: Hazelden Meditation Series