Having a basic understanding of your emotions is fundamental in the recovery process. Whether you are an individual battling with a substance or process addiction or the family member of a loved one you are desperately looking to support, most of us have developed coping mechanisms that avoid, dismiss or suppress our everyday feelings in order to minimize the impact of a "feeling" on your life.
Sometimes this is done consciously, and sometimes not, either way, it is a societal norm these days to develop a technique or behaviour that significantly diminishes or removes the impact of emotions. So why do we spend so much time avoiding our natural responses?
Evolutionary psychologists believe we have developed a specific number of emotional states and reactions that are extremely useful in our daily existence. When we experience a particular situation, it triggers an emotion that impacts a person’s thinking. Emotions stimulate the activity of many of our physiological systems together, in order to deal with the perceived problem in an effective manner.
In the 20th Century, Dr. Paul Ekman identified six basic emotions (anger, disgust, fear, happiness, sadness, and surprise) which many people believe are the foundation and building blocks for all other complex emotional states. However, at The Liberation Place, we believe that complex emotions are a blend of basic emotions and cognitions, with certain combinations being sufficiently common or important to be named in language.
For example, when a person feels guilt as a result of using substances, it is usually a combination of fear, disgust and sadness, which can trigger the coping mechanism of anger because we hold the belief that it is wrong to use substances in the manner that we do. If we build an awareness of the core emotions we experience on a daily basis it can help us develop new insight into our behaviours.
Emotions serve first to detect a reliable evolutionary cue, then trigger appropriate reactions that have been successful in the past, on the assumption they will be good solutions to these problems in the present moment. These responses are adaptive but of course not always successful, which often results in making them maladaptive.
People are not usually aware, or even able, to recognize what the triggers of these emotions are but, for some reason, most people have developed a fear of the resulting emotional state. The basic function of emotions is to tell us how we are experiencing any given situation and provide continuous commentary on how we see the meaning of things.
Therefore, when we ignore or suppress our emotions without understanding the reason for their activation, it is possible for us to create a maladaptive practice that is, physically and psychologically, causing more harm than good when measured over a significant period of time. At The Liberation Place we believe building a fundamental understanding of your emotions is one of the primary steps on the road to recovery. Please feel free to explore the explanation of emotions and the associated behaviours as a means to build an understanding of your own emotional state. Contact Us for further information or support on developing your ability and adding the associated tools to your recovery toolbox.