Sober Inspiration: The Tao of Fully Feeling

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 🙂


14 thoughts on “Sober Inspiration: The Tao of Fully Feeling

  1. Sounds like a very relatable book for most of us who have struggled with alcohol. We have been brainwashed since our childhood that alcohol will make everything better. It’s s this bold faced lie that we have to realize. Alcohol is a poison. As a reformed smoker, I can’t imagine inhaling toxic gas into my body. I feel the same about pouring poison down my throat now. I just finished Allen Carr’s book. The Easy Way to Quit Drinking.” I have never felt so much at peace about my decision to divorce alcohol. I am still early in my journey. Still, I will continue to read, and work my program. Thank you for your contribution and I will certainly add this book to my collection.

    1. Hey Mara I also read Allen Carr and it was the start of my final journey too! This book is certainly well worth a read 🙂

      1. Hi Lucy, I am now reading, Drinking, A Love Story. A typical account of how one woman fell gradually down the slippery slope of alcohol. Of course the slope got so steep, she couldn’t stop from falling to the bottom. Like her, I am or always was an HFA-high functioning alcoholic. It was never a problem for anyone but me. It hurt no one except me. My husband never thought it was a problem. But, it was for me. The guilt, shame and anxiety it caused me were eating away at my soul. I feel as though I am healing. I also feel like I am encased in this bubble of serenity and I’m scared to death it will pop!

      2. Such a wonderful book Mara, although painful to read such is her eloquence about our drinking. And it is ours – I am just like you and we heal and manage difficult times when they come 🙂

  2. Lucy, I love hearing from you. It is so helpful to hear from others who can truly relate to this journey towards a better life. Is there somewhere on this site where others chime in as well? A community of likeminded people who support each other on a daily basis without necessarily having to respond to something?

      1. Thank you Lucy. I’m nervous about FB and yahoo groups as I am a teacher in a small town and I cherish my privacy. Talk to you soon. Have a great Sunday!

  3. Hi Lucy,
    I agree 100 percent!
    I am learning how to work WITH my feelings, not against them.
    I might have to order this if you find it’s really good!

    1. It’s an astoundingly good book Wendy 🙂 Lots of light bulb moments for me when I read it and the person I heard talk about it spoke of similar revelatory insights! xx

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