So I’m reading a new book that I heard talked about recently by Pete Walker called The Tao of Fully Feeling. I’m only a few pages in but text is already jumping out at me and screaming to be shared!
Here’s the opening:
Feelings and emotions are energetic states that do not magically dissipate when they are ignored. When we do not attend to our feelings, they accumulate inside us and create a mounting anxiety that we commonly dismiss as stress.
So, like so many of us, I believed that all those years of pouring wine down my neck to manage ‘stress’ was helpful. In reality I was busy self-medicating away my feelings and emotions.
I felt that emotions were something to be corralled, minimised, denied even. In my household growing up we ‘didn’t do’ emotions as we were often reminded. I now understand that we weren’t allowed to do negative emotions. I learned very early on to keep my head down, my mouth shut and a smile on my face. Look happy even if you were dying inside. No wonder I ended up emotionally constipated and believing that drinking allowed me to express my emotions fully because it was only in that dis-inhibited state that I actually heard them as they roared from their cage inside. “A drunk mind speaks a sober heart” right? A saying often attributed to French Enlightenment philosopher Jean-Jaques Rousseau which we know not to be true.
Pete goes on:
We can learn to be emotional in benign ways. We can have our emotions without holding onto them. We can soften and relax into our feelings without exiling or enshrining them. We can let our feelings pass through us when they have fully served their function. When we learn to experience our feelings directly, we eventually discover that surrendering to them is by far the most efficient – and, in the long run, least painful – way of responding to them. We realise first-hand that life does not have to be pain-free to be fully enjoyed. Life is inordinately more painful than necessary when we hate, shame, and abandon ourselves for not feeling ‘good.’
As we become more emotionally whole, our health and vitality naturally improve. When we disburden ourselves of old unresolved trauma, energy wasted holding the past at bay becomes available for celebrating daily life. As we learn to befriend our emotions, we suffer less and less from self-damaging flights from feelings. We gracefully accept the reality that our emotional nature, like the weather, often changes unpredictably with a variety of pleasant and unpleasant conditions. We realize that a positive feeling cannot be induced to persist any more than the sun can be forced to continuously shine.
And this reflects my experience over the last 3 1/2 years. Emotions are no longer something to be scared of but welcomed and embraced, whether happy, sad or mad. My emotional repertoire has grown incredibly as I have allowed my caged and numbed heart to feel what my head was taught to deny for so long.
Welcome to emotional recovery that forms the biggest part of recovery from addiction. I think I’m going to really enjoy this book 🙂