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On the last track, we talked about overcoming resistance to feelings, as well as the Finding the Trouble Spot technique.
On this track we will be discussing the fear of self-awareness and five common myths about feelings that addicts believe about expressing feelings.
As you know, addicts commonly give many reasons for not allowing themselves to feel their feelings. I feel that each one of these reasons, regardless of its rationality or sensibility, represents a fear of self-awareness. I have worked with some clients in a session to facilitate their becoming aware that their fears about "feeling their feelings" are often groundless.
I noticed with Jessica, age 34, that it is important for addicts to know that once they are aware of their feelings then they can handle them. Those feelings that scared them so much will often not only not hurt them, but help them heal old wounds or problems.
Jessica had an addiction to heroin and had just lost her job. She experienced common fears that many addicts have about expressing feelings. She worried about her depression, and said, "I won’t let myself cry over all of the people I’ve hurt. If I start to cry, I won’t be able to stop. Also my anger is too scary, and it’s not just anger. I am afraid that if I get too happy, something bad will happen. So I guess I’m afraid to cry, I’m afraid to get angry, and I’m afraid to feel happy."
Myth #1 - Being Unable to Stop Crying
Myth #2 - Grief is Damaging
Myth #3 - Impulsive or Violent in Expressing Anger
Myth #4- Expressing Feelings Increases Pain
I told her, "If you learn to release these feelings, you may not have so much internal pressure causing you to resort to your addictive behaviors." In Jessica’s case, releasing feelings helped her to stop turning to her heroin addiction to medicate and numb her uncomfortable feeling.
Myth #5 - Something Bad Would Happen Upon Happiness
I explained to Jessica that in many cases the root of these myths for addicts is the belief that they are not good enough.
'Having a Good Cry' Exercise
Would the "Having a Good Cry" technique work for one of your addicted clients that is avoiding experiencing feelings?
On this track we have discussed the fear of self-awareness and five common myths that addicts believe about expressing feelings. These myths are that they will be unable to stop crying, //that acknowledging grief and disappointment will damage them,// that they will become impulsive or violent if they express anger,// that expressing feelings will increase their pain,// and that positive feelings will get them hurt.
On the next track, we will discuss the six steps in making an effective choice. The six steps are 1. paying attention to internal and external clues, 2. using both intuitive and practical reasoning, 3. evaluating options and their short- and long-term results, 4. making a choice, 5. committing to the choice, and 6. adapting to the unexpected.
- Mellin, Laurel; The Pathway: Follow the Road to Health and Happiness; Harper Collins: New York; 2003.
Online Continuing Education QUESTION 5
Others who bought this Addictions/Substance Abuse Course