I have emotions.
I used to think that having and showing emotion was weak. I would get so angry with myself if I got emotional during a conversation or in front of others. I thought that self-control and perfectionism and being tough were the way to have ultimate self-mastery. The harder I tried the worse I became at controlling my emotions.
Then I heard in support groups that emotions were natural and human. I learned that feeling joy and happiness requires that I also feel sadness and other “negative” emotions. Letting myself feel was at first terrifying. Emotion boiled out of me in giant overwhelming waves. I was tempted to try and control these also, but what worked best was letting go and trusting God. As I learned to accept and feel my feelings and go through them, I was able to let them go and the waves became smaller and more manageable.
Feeling my feelings was really hard at first, but over time it became easier. I am still working on being comfortable with my feelings and accepting the things that happen in my life. As I become more comfortable with my feelings, I feel more balanced and able to handle my emotions. I know that “in order to heal, I need to feel”.
It is hard to express myself.
Because of a combination of my shyness and low self-esteem, I find it hard to express myself. It is have to tell people how I feel or talk about problems and needs. When I have an opinion, thought or need I feel that my opinions are worthless and no one would be interested in what I have to say.
Support groups have let me listen to others thoughts and feelings. As I listen I realize that others feel the same way I do and that I’m not alone or worthless. When I see that others are not reprimanded I can practice sharing my thoughts and feelings without fear of reprisal. I’ve gained self-esteem and courage and healing from being able to communicate. This has given me courage to express myself in other areas of my life.
After having gained some experience in expressing myself, I might be tempted to impose my will on others. I’m learning humility as I balance between silence and dominance. When I communicate I can choose to express myself without expectation of how others should react.
Isolate = Self-Destruct
Communication and relationships are important for emotional, spiritual, social and even physical health. We are social beings. We learned from others, taught and communicated with others, and had relationships before we came here. When I isolate and depend on my own thinking I can spiral downward into worry, fear, anxiety, anger, helplessness and hopelessness. It is a recipe for self-destruction.
Support groups provide a place where I feel at home. I know I am not alone when I hear others express feelings that I also have. I can share and express myself without fear that there will be gossip about me or that others will look down on me for saying something or telling the truth about my feelings. As I say things out loud I can often see where my thinking is illogical or not quite right. As I hear others express their feelings it helps me to feel connected, to recognize how much I’ve grown and where I used to be, to feel compassion and empathy.
Church is another place where we come together to grow and learn. This should also be a place where we feel at home. But, it is easy to isolate and turn inward and feel alone at church. When I recognize that I need others, it is easier to reach out. Even those who seem to have it all together and have nothing wrong in their lives need other people. I should never judge my insides with another’s outsides. If I could walk in their shoes even for a minute I would see that we are more alike than different. I can reach out, find friends and support and love others and in so doing I will find love and support.
Isolating causes me to head in a downward spiral of self-destruction. Relating and connecting with others helps me to be healthy emotionally, spiritually, socially and physically.
Being true to me.
I developed shortcomings of worry, fear, anxiety, isolation and low self-esteem from living with loved ones with addictions. After attending support groups for a time, I realized that the root of these problems was an inability to be true to myself. I wanted to please people so I would let them take advantage of me. I often felt depressed when I did something expected, when it was not in alignment with my values and goals. But, I would feel guilty when I chose to do something I wanted to do over something another wanted. It was hard to walk between the two and I often felt either guilty or depressed.
Support groups have taught me to take care of myself and that I have rights. I can share in meetings and no one interrupts me or gives me advice unless I ask. I can “take what I like and leave the rest”. Support groups tell me that my anonymity and confidentiality will be protected and only I can disclose them.
I am learning that “no is a complete sentence” and I do not have to give explanations. Pleasing other people is not a good reason to do something. I am learning to “stop taking things personally”. I learned that I cannot make people do what I want them to do. Since I cannot make people like me by what I say or do, I should do what I think is best as long as it does not hurt anyone else.
If I set realistic goals and I can achieve them step by step. It is the process and the learning that are important. The outcome is irrelevant.
Taking care of myself, learning and growing, and achieving goals have led me to personal growth and higher self-esteem. I am worth something and I can choose how to live my life.