If YOU don’t deal with your Feelings, your FEELINGS will deal with You!

Every form of addiction is merely a symptom of emotional dissociation. For most of us who’ve struggled with one aspect of addiction or another, our compulsive behavior or dependence on a substance (whether illicit or not) began during childhood or adolescence. My personal addiction took the form of an eating disorder, which was cemented during my earliest years in a highchair, and lasted to well into my mid to late forties.

I’ve had the good fortune to have worked effectively with many clients who were addicted to eating, sex or porn. My own background as a compulsive eater and having finally discovered how to dismantle my addiction, gave me an intimate understanding about how to help others dismantle theirs.

One of the very few things returning to academia at the age of 41 taught me, was that nicotine addiction is the hardest to beat. I’m not 100% certain this is true, but it made sense to me at the time.

Smoking cessation clinics teach you about what I like to think of as, the ‘choreography of smoking and quitting.’ They may tell you how ritualized this behavior has become for you (and it has). They may teach breathing techniques to help you push past the immediate impulses you feel to light-up. Hell, there’s likely a whole lot they instruct you about, as they’re trying to help you quit… but is it enough to KEEP you away from those death sticks?

People engage in habituated behaviors to help them emotionally ‘cope.’ Millions of smokers, alcohol or drug abusers, gamblers, porn and/or sex addicts, etc., grew up harshly judging specific emotions they experienced when they were young, because those feeling states weren’t well-received by their parents.

What does a child do, when sadness, depression, anger, frustration, jealousy, sexual arousal, etc., are treated by our parental units as wrong or “unacceptable?” Children are like dogs, and vice versa. Both only want to please us, in hopes that “approved-of” behavior will gain them much-needed supplies of approval, attention and affection.

What happens though, to all the vitally important human emotions that get buried or discarded along a child’s journey to adulthood? Do these feelings ever get unearthed~ much less, accepted as normal and natural? Various religious practices and even Buddhism, essentially teach that darker feelings have no place within an enlightened soul. Generosity toward one’s fellow man, even to the extent of throwing one’s own feelings and needs under a speeding bus, is regarded as good and righteous.

When we surrender an addiction, we’re literally giving up on and walking away from a long-trusted and loyal friend that’s reliably helped us ‘change the channel’ on what we’re feeling in the moment, countless times. These emotions often manifest as irritation, frustration, anger, rage, sadness, emptiness, boredom, flatness, fatigue or depression. Sometimes, we land at a crossroads of sensing more than one feeling simultaneously, which creates a (normal, human) sensation in us, akin to ‘overwhelm.’

When someone’s been judging, fearing, running from and suppressing various emotional states lifelong, it can be pretty difficult when those feelings start floating up to the surface, without the aid of our longest and most reliable ‘friend,’ to take the edge off ‘em. And there we sit, assuming our now easily triggered sense of “irritation” is the by-product or fault of substance or behavioral pattern withdrawal. This isn’t quite accurate.

The truth of the matter is, these feelings have been alive, vibrant and wanting to be recognized, accepted and embraced since long before we found a convenient way to ‘manage’ them. Self-medicating substances or behaviors we cleverly implemented have simply kept a litany of emotions at bay, so we haven’t had to deal with ‘em.

Anger is the most enlivening, activating, stimulating and passionate human emotion we have in our feeling repertoire! If we’ve been taught to feel guilt and shame whenever it surfaces, we’re in big trouble. Whenever we suppress an emotion, it’s forced to grow larger and stronger. Have you ever felt intense feelings of love for someone, yet told yourself “it’s too early in this relationship to say, I Love You?” It starts to feel irrepressible, doesn’t it?

Borderlines TRY to keep their darker emotions under wraps in effort to be perceived as flawless and perfect, which inevitably drives volatile acting-out behaviors~ but who in our earliest life experiences taught us that ALL feelings were good and right? Surely not parents who were disconnected from their own darker emotions.

Addiction Recovery clinics and facilities do not teach people how to experience difficult emotions in their body, stay the fuck outta their head (no attaching meaning and reasons to ‘em), and learn to self-soothe. In addition, they fail to balance brain chemistry~ so if someone has a depression problem or obsessive-compulsive traits, they have no opportunity for real recovery if these imbalances are left unchecked and untreated. Thus, the recidivism rate for addiction “recovery” clinics is astronomically high (and have you ever seen the fees they charge??).

Years ago, I wrote a comprehensive article about addiction. I am hoping to publish it in book form fairly soon, but if you’d like to take a deep dive into what’s really needed to dismantle and recover from any type of addiction, you may read it here: https://sharischreiber.com/outgrowing-your-addiction/

Please pass this blog along to all in your life who may benefit from reading it.

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