I would say this is the one of happiest and most productive times in my life, but at the same time, one of the most stressful times. As I have mentioned, while my book, “The Law of Sobriety: Attracting Positive Energy for a Powerful Recovery” is coming out, I am working on Celebrity Rehab, publicizing my book on various media outlets (like today appearing on E! News), finishing up endorsements for my book, seeing clients in my practice and a Malibu Rehab, writing several blog posts a week, and trying to find time for my family, friends, and for myself. Although as we say in the program, these are “quality problems”, if I don’t stay abreast of my emotions, I will certainly become overwhelmed and un-balanced. I have often seen with my clients, whether they are celebrities or not, that unless they do a daily check on their emotions, the stress keeps building and ultimately they enter into self-destructive behaviors.
Emotional sobriety is about keeping your emotions balanced so that you can handle life’s ups and downs in a grounded, joyful, and productive way. Emotions have an effect on our thinking rather than the other way around which is thinking impacts our emotions. When your emotions are un-regulated, your thinking gets off track. That is why you often here in the 12-step program alcoholics and addicts have “Stinking Thinking.” Having your emotions off balance will effect every area of your life including your work, your relationships, your health and well-being, and everything that is important to you. You won’t be “in your game” because you are allowing your emotions to determine how you live your life and handle life’s ups and downs.
When your emotions are aligned and you feel centered, you don’t shut down or withdraw. You tend to have more resilience and can handle stress more effectively. You can tolerate whatever comes your way, because you are in since and not on overload. Your body will feel more expansive and fluid versus feeling in-flexible and tight.
Bill Wilson wrote a very insightful letter to a friend who was suffering from depression. This letter was written in 1956 and published in the AA Grapevine in 1958. This is one of the most important pieces that Bill wrote because it discusses the next step in recovery – our emotional sobriety. Recently I have read a new book that discusses the insights in Bill’s letter and relates them to the works of many of the pioneers in psychotherapy and family therapy. I highly recommend this book for any of you that want to learn how to better hold on to yourself in relationships. It’s written by Dr. Allen Berger author of the Hazelden Classic 12 Stupid Things that Mess Up Recovery. His new book is titled 12 Smart Things to do When the Booze and Drugs are Gone.
Here are some tips for staying emotionally fit:
1. Avoid numbing out behaviors.
2. Stay abreast with how you are feeling internally (your body).
3. Stay active, exercise, walk, and move.
4. Nurture your relationships.
5. Live a purposeful and meaningful life.
Sherry Gaba, LCSW, is a Psychotherapist and Life Coach and author of “The Law of Sobriety: Attracting Positive Energy for a Powerful Recovery.”