We can base a lot in our lives on what we feel. As men who have lived in active addiction, we know the power feelings can have, especially when we live disconnected from our emotions. We feel like we need to get high. We feel like drinking. We can’t connect to our emotions when we are sad or happy or afraid, but we can feel like we don’t like feeling our emotions and feel that using substances is a better choice.
Through treatment and recovery, we learn that feelings are not facts. What we feel is not a dictation of reality but a response to reality. By connecting with our emotions, we become more in control of our feelings, thereby becoming more in control of how we respond to the facts of life. Below, we elaborate.
First, it is important to understand their is a difference between feelings and emotions.
Emotions are our evolutionary ability to respond to life. Fear, anger, sadness, happiness- our primary and secondary emotions are they way we interpret and make sense of life by celebrating it, questioning it, mourning it, and even fearing it. Emotions are physical experiences rather than strictly mental ones. For example, fear and anger are caused by the stimulation of the fight or flight response regulated by the amygdala and sympathetic nervous system. This stress responses releases hormones into the body, preparing it for physical action like running from a predator. All emotions are processed through the limbic system, which is separate from the neocortex. Our rational thinking, reasoning, and consciousness come from the neocortex. Since the limbic system is separate, emotions are not processed with the same decision making. As most people experience, emotions are often irrational.
Feelings are not physical. Instead, feelings are psychological or mental reactions to emotions. Emotions are shared by all human beings. All humans feel sad and happy, unless a severe psychiatric disorder prevents them from truly experiencing their emotions. Not all humans feel the same feelings. Take for example grief. People grieve in different ways because there are different feelings associated with the experience of grief. Some people are angry, some people are indifferent, some people are sorrowful. Our perceptions directly influence our feelings. Our experience, as human beings, directly dictates our emotions.
Are either feelings or emotions real?
“Feelings are not facts” is a sentiment you hear often in treatment because, it is true. Feelings are not facts. Feelings are a response to facts. As an example, it is fact that you stepped on a piece of glass. Your emotional reaction might be fear, anger, and sadness. Your feelings could be that of being scorned, resentful, punished, victimhood, and much more. Feelings are created by your perceptions, your experiences, your temperament and more.
Making the decision to come to treatment can be terrifying. Feeling your feelings and confronting your emotions can be a challenging development. At Tree House Recovery in Orange County, California, men are finding freedom from addiction by creating sustainable change for a sustainable recovery. Call us today for information: (855) 202-2138