Why Are Emotions Important in Addiction Recovery?

Why Are Emotions Important in Addiction Recovery?

Dr. Gary Oliver, author of Mad About Us: Moving From Anger to Intimacy With Your Spouse, has said, “If you bury an emotion, you bury it alive.” This is incredibly true for those in recovery from substance use disorder (SUD) and for any person trying to live their best life. We must all permit ourselves to feel. Allowing ourselves to feel the wide spectrum of human emotions will allow us to achieve success and well-being in our mental, physical, and spiritual lives.

We often get asked, “How are you feeling?” and we usually answer with the standard, “fine,” “good,” and ever so popular, “not bad.” These responses may be true in some circumstances; however, they are often rote responses. These responses deny ourselves and the person asking the question the opportunity to connect. Connecting with others is important; however, of greater importance is our ability to connect with ourselves.

What Is Emotional Intelligence?

Emotional intelligence is the ability to monitor and reflect on one's personal emotions and the emotions of others, identify and label them properly, and use the emotional information to appropriately guide thinking and behavior. It is a set of skills that are involved in communication and relating to others.

Recognizing and managing our emotions allows us to persevere in difficult circumstances. As we pursue recovery, we must face our emotions and develop a method of coping with uncomfortable feelings. Recovery may be one of the most challenging times in our lives. We must face the actions of our past, our emotions, and the feelings of others as we begin to recognize the effects of our past actions.

Being able to cope with our own regrets and the feelings and regrets of others regarding our behaviors helps us develop resilience. Resilience will enable us to avoid relapse.

How Does Resilience Help Us Avoid Relapse?

Resilience is one’s ability to withstand pressures and recover despite adverse circumstances. Resilience can be one of the most crucial factors in preventing and avoiding relapse for individuals with a SUD. The development of resilience is critical to avoiding relapse as it enables us to cope with triggers and our emotions relative to the difficult aspects of recovery.

At Enlightened Solutions, through our various treatment modalities, we help our clients develop resilience. Through treatment and focusing on whole-person health, we can develop emotional intelligence and further develop our resilience.

Emotional Intelligence Improves Physical Health

Having the ability to moderate our emotional responses can improve our ability to maintain good health. According to the article “Emotional Intelligence and Physical Health,” published in the journal Assessing Emotional Intelligence, the leading causes of death today are “chronic stress and unhealthy lifestyles,” which can be linked to a lack of ability to cope with one’s emotions.

As we improve our ability to cope with emotions, our heart health improves, our diet improves, and our willingness to care for our bodies improves. Our ability to recognize our emotions as reactions to the world and stressors can improve health outcomes by making us more capable of managing unhealthy emotional responses. Overeating, undereating, and essentially avoiding life have made us unhealthy and resulted in the abuse of our bodies.

How Can We Change Our Responses?

We can care for ourselves in such a way as to avoid the unhealthy ramifications of physical illness. First, we must face our emotions. When asked how we are feeling, we need to pause and really assess.

As a society, we have shifted from facing our feelings to doing what feels good in the moment. When we face our feelings, we can grow and allow ourselves to feel better and have a better life long-term.

Changing our response to life by facing our feelings will create resilience. Resilience is the key to our success in recovery from SUD. Our difficulty with facing emotions is often what prompted our disease. We are capable of recovery, but first, we must face our feelings.

Face Your Feelings and Find Recovery

Recovery takes time and effort. A challenging aspect of recovery is coming to grips with our emotions. Overcoming knee-jerk responses is what will enable us to succeed in recovery. Recovery is brutal when we hide from our feelings. So, we must face our emotions and develop coping skills. At Enlightened Solutions, we help our clients learn how to cope with their feelings and develop the needed lifelong skills to ensure resilience in recovery.

Life does not have to be lived hiding from emotions that make us feel uncomfortable. Discomfort promotes growth. As we face our emotions, our physical health will improve, as well as our overall well-being.

Facing one's emotions is quite possibly the most difficult aspect of recovery from addiction. However, when a person is capable of facing their emotions, growth happens and the risk for relapse is reduced. At Enlightened Solutions, we recognize how difficult facing one's emotions can be, which is why we focus on holistic healing. We want you to recover in your mind, body, and spirit. If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction to alcohol and/or other substances or behaviors, we can help. We recognize the power addiction can have over one's life and offer solutions through detoxification, residential, outpatient care, and sober living. We recognize you and your ability to overcome substance use disorder. You are not alone. Reach out to us at (833) 801-LIVE and learn how we can help. You deserve recovery and the life you always wanted. 

Trauma and Addiction: Unearthing Your Hidden Emotions

Trauma and Addiction: Unearthing Your Hidden Emotions

Discovering the underlying causes of your addictive behaviors can be a transformative experience. You may be hiding or masking emotional pain by engaging in compulsive behaviors that do not serve to heal you. Uncovering your hidden emotions may be painful and you may have built up powerful defenses to protect yourself.

Traumatic experiences can lead to numerous unhealthy thought and behavioral patterns. Some people develop disorders, such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) following scary, disturbing, or life-threatening events. PTSD and other trauma-related disorders can affect both the body and the mind.

As you engage in the process of recovery, you may discover that you have been holding on to past traumas in life. Recovery may be challenging and you may have to face these traumatic memories to heal from them.

Trauma: Natural Responses to Danger

Trauma is caused by a natural response to threats or danger. You, and all other people, have a strong instinct for survival and powerful ways of escaping or fighting off threats to your life. We all have what is known as a “flight or fight” response when our lives are threatened. The flight or fight response gives us the energy and strength needed to either run from (flight) or physically challenge (fight) any perceived threats to our lives.

While the flight or fight response worked well for human beings before building civilizations and social structures, we rarely encounter the same kind of threats that our instinctual drive was meant to handle. Animals do not experience trauma as humans do, as animals use the flight or fight energy in response to threats. People, however, tend to face dangerous situations that we cannot run from or fight.

As a result, we hold onto our trauma, as we are unable to release the energy that builds up in us to run or fight. Our bodies may manifest this energy in the form of disorders or other cognitive impairments. We may develop fear when facing similar situations, even when the threat is no longer there. We may experience flashbacks or feel frightened easily.

We may have a difficult time recalling or thinking about past events due to traumatic pain. We may blame ourselves for not running or fighting in situations where we were threatened. As you begin to heal in recovery, you may begin to realize things about your past that you have repressed or tried to forget.

You may be using substances or alcohol as a way of distracting or numbing yourself from experiencing these painful thoughts and memories. Recovery can truly begin when you learn to face the underlying issues of your addictions.

Facing Trauma: Experiencing Pain to Heal and Grow

While traumatic events can be painful to recall, many of your peers in recovery have also experienced trauma in their lives. You are not alone in your pain! You may find that having peers who relate to your experiences can encourage you to talk about your trauma.

By joining in peer discussion groups, you may realize that others have similar emotions and underlying stressors contributing to their addictive behaviors. If during your recovery you begin to uncover painful emotions related to trauma, you can begin to heal from this pain in safe and supportive environments.

Support and Safety: Learning to Heal

Traumatic experiences may leave us feeling like we are constantly in danger. We may feel unsafe in any situation that reminds us of our trauma. When we are constantly in places that make us feel threatened, opening up emotionally and being vulnerable can be difficult.

During your recovery, you may be in safe and therapeutic environments more frequently. Being around people who are non-threatening and helpful can provide you with the environment needed to heal from trauma. You may need to relive and re-experience painful memories from your past, but during treatment in recovery, you can develop support networks of people that you trust.

As you spend more and more time around trustworthy people and in safe spaces, you may begin to feel differently about the world around you. Once you can trust the immediate environment, you can begin to expose your emotions to learn better ways of coping with your pain.

Your addictive behaviors may have been your way of dealing with trauma. Addictions to alcohol or other drugs only numb you from true growth and change. Addictive behaviors distract you and keep you from moving forward. You can find better ways of coping by being vulnerable and allowing yourself to face your past traumas.

Many of us in recovery have experienced trauma in our past. We may have grown up in troubled households, survived abusive relationships, or faced immediate life-threatening experiences that have left an imprint upon our psyche. The impact of trauma can be devastating and we may feel hopeless in healing or fearful of experiencing painful emotions. Finding a safe and supportive environment can provide us with the care we need to expose our pasts. Only when we face the past, can we learn to move forward. We can meet others who can relate to our experiences and build resiliency to recover from our addictions. Enlightened Solutions understands that trauma can be a cause of addictions for many people. We have alternative approaches to recovery treatment and aim to uncover the underlying causes of addiction. Call us at (833) 801-5483 to begin your path to healing.

Thoughts as Behaviors: Challenging Our Belief Systems

Thoughts as Behaviors: Challenging Our Belief Systems

What are our thoughts? Are they random impulses presenting themselves in our minds like a movie or a dialogue? Are thoughts in our control and representative of our inner selves? Are they deeply significant or are thoughts inconsequential? The answer is all of the above! Thoughts can be strange or silly, prompting us to shrug them off as unimportant.

Thoughts can be insightful and deep, like an epiphany or a realization (or what is known as an “Ah-ha!” moment). They can be within our power and control, as well as random and chaotic. Some of our thoughts constitute our core belief systems.

When we are in recovery from addictions, we might find that our core belief systems do not serve us well. We may have long-held thoughts that are distorted or overblown. Some of our core beliefs may be misguided or not true to our personal philosophy.

While some thoughts are random and out of our control, others, like beliefs, can be viewed as behaviors. Behaviors can be shaped, changed, ceased, or modified. Two effective therapies for challenging our steadfast beliefs are Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT).

Both CBT and DBT are considered evidence-based practices, meaning that they have been proven to be effective and helpful.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: Challenge Maladaptive Thinking

“Cognitive” refers to our conscious brain activities, generally referring to our thoughts. Any thought within our awareness, whether manifested by us or at random, can be considered a cognitive process. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) can help those of us with distorted thinking or maladaptive thought patterns.

For some of us in recovery, we may have been told things that are not necessarily true or may not realize that we have damaging thought patterns. These thought patterns can distort our self-image, disrupt our development of confidence, and affect our overall mental wellness.

In CBT, the person meets with a therapist to begin the process of challenging and changing these distorted beliefs and thought patterns. The therapist will help the person identify and recognize their distorted or unhelpful beliefs. Once these beliefs are realized, the person can begin to test how these beliefs hold up in reality.

For example, a person may think “I will never be happy.” This distorted view of themselves affects much of their self-esteem and their motivations to change--why challenge themselves if they will never be happy? The therapist may ask them to begin noting times of the day when they do feel happy to challenge this belief.

The person will then begin to notice when they do feel happy and content, then they can understand how to change their environments, activities, or behaviors to feel happy more often. Once they understand that their beliefs are not reality, they can begin to dismantle these long-held thought patterns.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy: Learning to Tolerate Distress

Another practice of challenging distorted thinking is called Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT). “Dialectal” refers to opposition between two opposing forces; in DBT, this is referring to the opposition of reality and our emotional responses to reality. DBT is generally used for people with difficulty managing their emotional regulations.

They may have an extreme overreaction to changes or unanticipated events due to distorted patterns of thoughts that make them feel anxious or fearful. DBT helps people with “black-and-white” thinking, which leaves them feeling that things are either great or terrible with little to nothing in between.

People who can be best helped with DBT may have a difficult time reacting appropriately to stressors. For example, they may have the same emotional reaction to accidentally dropping a cup of coffee as they do to losing a loved one. During DBT, they can learn to respond more appropriately to the varying degrees of stress in life.

A therapist in DBT will guide the person to handle distress. Someone may have never learned healthy ways of handling stressors in life and have extreme reactions to the slightest changes. DBT focuses on distress tolerance and challenges thought patterns by exposing the person gradually to distress within a safe environment.

In DBT, a person will begin to realize that distress can be tolerated in healthy ways and they learn to respond more appropriately to stress. Similar in approach to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), in DBT a person will also have tasks outside of therapy to test the reality of their distorted thought patterns.

One of the key differences between CBT and DBT, however, is the factor of actively learning to tolerate distress. When beginning recovery, we may begin to notice our thought patterns and beliefs with more awareness than when we were in the throes of addictions.

Once we become more aware of distorted ways of thinking and reacting, we can find therapies to help us challenge our thoughts and our reactions.

Distorted thought patterns and belief systems can keep us stuck. Our thoughts and beliefs can negatively impact our self-esteem and self-confidence. We may have self-defeating thoughts of perfectionism, catastrophizing, or worthlessness. We may have an extreme overreaction to any stress in life due to distorted thoughts or black-and-white thinking. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Dialectical Behavior Therapy can help us think more clearly and respond more appropriately to the world around us. Sometimes, the root causes of our addictive behaviors are due to unhealthy thoughts about ourselves or life in general. At Enlightened Solutions, we believe in challenging belief systems that no longer serve to better ourselves. Call us today at (833) 801-5483 to discuss some of our therapeutic approaches to cognitive distortions and unhealthy thoughts.

Meditation Isn’t Just One Thing

Meditation Isn’t Just One Thing

In the past 10 years or so, meditation has gone mainstream in a big way. Half the articles you see online about health and wellness are accompanied by a picture of someone sitting cross-legged with their eyes closed, looking very centered. This is due partially to the increasing popularity of yoga. Scientific research showing the benefits of meditation for both mental and physical health also validates it.

Meditation has increasingly been incorporated into treatment for addiction and other mental health challenges by forward-thinking therapists and treatment programs. However, there are also a lot of popular misconceptions about meditation. One is that meditation is one specific thing and there’s only one right way to do it.

In reality, there are many different meditation techniques and each one has different effects. Furthermore, many approaches to meditation combine different elements and different contemplative traditions emphasize different methods. If you’re incorporating meditation into your recovery plan, the important thing is to be aware of your own needs and how meditation can serve those most effectively.

Just relying on one method is a bit like going to the gym and just doing one exercise. For some people, that’s fine, especially if it’s a complex exercise, but it all depends on what you want out of it. The following are some common types of meditation and how they might help you when recovering from addiction.


Mindfulness is probably the most popular kind of meditation in the US today. It has been widely studied and incorporated into therapeutic methods, such as dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) and mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT). It’s fairly easy to start learning and it has a lot of potential benefits in the context of addiction recovery.

While mindfulness itself really comprises several different techniques, the core of the practice is to bring your attention to the present moment and whatever you’re experiencing. This typically involves either focusing on your breath, scanning your body for physical sensations, or paying attention to something in your environment—typically sounds or some object in front of you—such as a flower or candle.

As noted, there are several ways mindfulness can aid your addiction recovery. Perhaps the biggest is that by keeping your mind in the present moment, you are not ruminating about the past or worrying about the future. Mindfulness also lets you practice observing your thoughts and emotions nonjudgmentally, which diminishes their power to make you miserable.

For example, learning to simply observe feelings of shame rather than trying to push them away or bury them gives those feelings less control over you. With some practice, you may be able to treat drug and alcohol cravings in a similar way and “surf” them rather than feeling controlled by them.

Focused Attention

Focused attention is probably what most people think of when they think of meditation. This is the closest idea to the notion that meditation is “clearing your mind.” In reality, it’s almost impossible to “clear your mind” but you can learn to focus totally on your object of meditation—typically the breath—that you have the ability to exclude all other thoughts.

Few people develop their skills to this point, especially among casual practitioners. However, practicing this kind of meditation can help improve your concentration. There are two ways this can support your recovery. The first is if you have co-occurring ADHD, which is fairly common. Learning to better focus your attention can help reduce distractions and jumping thoughts and help you stick to important tasks.

Second, a lot of people find that when they first begin recovery, their concentration is terrible. There may be a number of reasons for this. If you’re quitting stimulants, for example, you may feel like you’re underwater and unable to focus.

Or, if your brain is mainly primed to look for drugs and alcohol, other things may just not seem that interesting and it’s harder to focus on them. By practicing focused attention meditation daily—such as feeling the breath as it passes in and out through your nose—you can gradually train your brain to focus.

Open Awareness

Open awareness is just what it sounds like: you accept whatever happens in the present, whether it’s an itch on your scalp or the sound of a truck outside your window. You let these sensations come and you let them go without judging them or following the train of thought they stimulate.

This sounds pretty easy, but it’s actually a more advanced mindfulness practice because it’s easy to start daydreaming and forget about the meditation entirely. If you can manage it, open awareness can be very good for helping reduce chronic pain and for becoming less sensitive to counterproductive thoughts.


Mantra meditations involve reciting—either mentally or out loud—specific words or phrases. In a way, the mantra becomes the object of meditation and excludes other thoughts. However, there are two important ways mantra meditation is different.

First, when you are reciting a mantra—which, in some traditions is called a prayer—the parts of your brain that produce speech are busy, so it interferes with your mental chatter. If you struggle with critical thoughts or rumination, mantra meditation may be a way to turn down the volume of those.

Second, when you recite a mantra, even mentally, it tends to slow down your breathing patterns. One study found that participants who recited a mantra or the Ave Maria in Latin tended to stabilize their breathing at around six breaths per minute: an ideal rhythm for creating a sense of calmness and wellbeing.


Loving-kindness meditation, or metta, is one that tends to fall through the cracks but it can be very powerful. The idea is simple: you practice cultivating feelings of compassion for yourself and others. This has many benefits, including reducing stress, improving sleep, improving mood, and improving your relationships. You start by thinking of someone close to you, someone you feel genuinely grateful is in your life.

It could be a best friend or a relative. You direct positive feelings toward that person, perhaps with a thought like, “May you be happy, may you be healthy, may you be safe,” and so on. You can notice whatever feelings this evokes and sit with those feelings for a few minutes. Then gradually try to apply those same feelings to people you feel less connected to, such as a work friend, someone you’ve seen but never spoken to.

Finally, you try to apply those feelings to someone who you find hard to like. There are a number of reasons this practice is excellent for addiction recovery, but perhaps two stand out among the others. First, you should be directing compassion toward yourself at some point in the process, and self-compassion is something many people with substance use disorders desperately need.

Second, having a strong support network is one of the most important aspects of recovery, and feeling genuine compassion for the people around you is one of the best ways to create that sense of connection. Keep in mind that any kind of meditation technique is just using your brain in a certain way and the more you use your brain in that way, the better you will get at that specific task.

This can help you overcome whatever weaknesses you happen to be dealing with. If you can’t focus, try a focused-attention technique. If you’re feeling isolated, try loving-kindness. The most important thing is for you to pay attention to your own needs and goals and figure out what works best for you.

At Enlightened Solutions, we know that recovering from a substance use disorder is bigger than just abstaining from drugs and alcohol; it’s about living a more joyful, more fulfilling life. That’s why our program treats the whole person, using a variety of methods, including meditation and yoga. To learn more, call us today at (833) 801-5483.

What To Do When You Feel Another Episode of Depression Coming

What To Do When You Feel Another Episode of Depression Coming

Depression is one of the most common mental health challenges worldwide and it’s a major risk factor for addiction. For example, one study found that among people with major depression, 16.5 percent had an alcohol use disorder and 18 percent had a drug use disorder.

Those are both much higher than the incidence of substance use disorders in the general population. Furthermore, if you have had one episode of major depression, you are likely to have another. About half of people who have had one episode will have another and about 80 percent of people who have had two episodes will have a third one.

The good news is that you can often lessen the severity of a depressive episode or avoid it entirely if you are aware of the symptoms early and respond appropriately. Early symptoms can be any of the common symptoms of depression but are especially likely to include irritability, fatigue, rumination, disturbed sleep, changes in appetite, and isolation. If you notice any of these symptoms, take the following action:

Make Sure You’re Sticking to Your Treatment Plan

If you have received treatment for depression in the past, you likely followed some course of treatment that helped you through it. This might have included therapy, healthy lifestyle changes, changes in thinking patterns, and possibly medication.

Typically, as you start to feel better, you are more inclined to let these things slide. So if you feel symptoms of depression coming back, review whatever helped you overcome your last episode and make sure you’re still doing those things, or resume doing them if you’ve stopped.

Make sure you’re eating healthy and getting regular exercise. You can also consider resuming therapy if you have met with a therapist before.

Take Care of Yourself

In addition to eating healthy and exercising, there are additional ways to take care of yourself that will help you in your healing from depression. Find ways to turn down the dial on your chronic stress, perhaps by managing your schedule better, saying no to new responsibilities, or delegating existing responsibilities.

Make sure you’re taking a little time each day to relax and have fun in whatever ways work for you. Spend time with people you care about. All of these things will help to reduce stress and anxiety, which are common triggers for depression.

Talk It Over

When you feel like your mood has taken a wrong turn and your thoughts start getting pretty dark, don’t bottle it up. Talk to someone. Ideally, you should talk to a therapist because it’s possible that you’ve slid back into some unhealthy thinking patterns and your therapist can help you correct the course. However, it can help to talk to someone you trust or someone who supports you and will listen without judgment.

It’s especially important to be able to discuss your feelings with your spouse or partner since it’s easy to take irritability and a persistently foul mood personally. An important thing to remember is that communication is key. It helps prevent alienation and just talking about what you’re going through will probably help you feel better.

Connect with Others

It’s also important to stay connected socially in general. Often, one of the earliest signs that a relapse of depression is approaching is that you want to be alone. You cancel plans, decline invitations, or just don’t show up to things. However, this is one of the behaviors that can make you spiral down more quickly.

Spending time with people you care about reduces stress and improves your mood and the less you feel like it, the more important this kind of connection is. Be sure to accept invitations and actually show up. Reach out to people, even if it’s just a text or email. Keep in mind that no matter how much you are dreading getting together with friends, you will probably enjoy it once you drag yourself out of the house.

Change Your Mood

If you’re in the depths of a depressive episode, the idea that you can just cheer up by listening to music or watching some funny videos is absurd. However, if you’re just starting to feel early symptoms of depression, these kinds of activities are powerful because they can help keep you from spiraling down.

Funny or uplifting music, videos, movies, TV shows, and books are all great ways to change your mood quickly. Exercise, even a short walk, is an especially powerful way to improve your mood in a matter of minutes. Talking to certain friends might help, as might something like cooking your favorite meal or going to your favorite restaurant.

Even just a change of scenery might get you out of a funk. Try going to a place with natural beauty, as nature has been proven to improve your mood. Even a few minutes sitting in a nearby park can lift your spirits.

Accept Your Feelings

If you have already experienced an episode of major depression, you know how bad it can get. When you feel another episode approaching, you might feel overcome with dread or even panic. You might think, “Oh no, not this again! I barely made it through the last episode and I don’t have time for this right now.”

Unfortunately, that kind of thinking makes you feel even worse. You’re adding to your misery because you feel bad about feeling bad. A much better approach is accepting your feelings. We all have bad days or even bad weeks. Instead of panicking, you can say to yourself, “I feel pretty bad today.

That’s fine; it’s normal to feel bad sometimes.” Then just sit with the feeling. It will likely pass. There is even research suggesting that the more people are able to accept challenging emotions in times of stress, the less likely those emotions are to turn into depression.

If you are attuned to your emotions and if you are aware of your patterns and triggers, it’s possible to avoid or at least reduce the severity of another episode of depression. The keys are to take care of yourself; talk it over, especially with a therapist; connect with others, particularly those you trust; manage your mood, especially early on; and avoid compounding your symptoms with worry or anger about your symptoms.

If you suddenly find yourself in emotional distress, reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 or use their chat feature. You don’t have to be suicidal to call.

At Enlightened Solutions, we know that substance use is often just the tip of the iceberg. Most people who struggle with addiction have other issues as well, including major depression. Managing your mental health is a key component to a strong recovery from addiction, which is why our treatment program includes evidence-based treatments for co-occurring mental health issues, as well as lifestyle changes to promote holistic healing. To learn more, call us today at (833) 801-5483.

The Harm in Suppressing Our Emotions

The Harm in Suppressing Our Emotions

Many of us have been conditioned to believe that expressing our emotions is a sign of weakness, and that we are lesser or weak if we are honest and forthcoming about how we feel. We’re taught to suppress our emotions. We’re conditioned to keep everything locked up and buried deep within ourselves. The problem with suppressing our emotions, however, is that their energy continues to hurt us when we haven’t faced them head on. Unresolved pain festers inside us, causing us all kinds of mental, emotional and physical health problems.

Suppressed emotions can cause our mental health to decline. We can experience worsened memory and cognitive thinking skills. We can have a hard time processing our thoughts. We can struggle to think clearly and logically. Our painful feelings can totally cloud our judgment. We might think we’ve buried them deep enough to forget about them, and we may forget about them temporarily, but they always return to remind us of the issues we need to address. Our feelings are like clues to the healing work we need to do. When we pay attention to the information they’re giving us, we can make important progress in our healing.

Emotionally, suppression is quite toxic for us. Our emotions grow stronger, fiercer and more ferocious when we don’t accept them and make space for them. Until we embrace them with acceptance and mindfulness, they will try to alert us and get our attention by causing us distress and pain. Our emotions accumulate and worsen the longer we try to deny or avoid them. Suppressing our feelings can lead to exacerbated depression, anxiety, panic attacks and other mental health issues. Since so many of us have been taught to suppress our emotions, we’re trying to cope with life while these feelings are wreaking havoc on our balance and peace. We feel increasingly stressed, worried, angry and destabilized. Our emotions provide us with important information to help us grow our awareness. When we don’t pay attention, we limit our capacity for development and stunt our growth. We derail our healing progress.

Suppressing our emotions can have harmful physical effects as well. We tend to think of our thoughts and feelings as being confined to our minds, separate from our physical bodies, but in reality, our systems are completely interconnected. Everything we think and feel affects us physically, and vice versa. Our minds, hearts and bodies are inextricably linked. Trapped emotions and stuck energy can cause us physical pain and discomfort. Physical health issues such as chronic pain, fibromyalgia and poor alignment, for example, are often attributed to our unhealed trauma.

A huge part of healing is learning to allow ourselves to feel, express and communicate our emotions in healthy ways.

At Enlightened Solutions, we are here to help you remember that life can be full of happiness and enjoyable moments, once we learn how to manage our thoughts, feelings and behaviors. Call us today: (833) 801-LIVE.

The Emotions of Addiction

The Emotions of Addiction

When we are dealing with addictions, we often experience layers of emotions. Sometimes we are conscious of these emotions, and sometimes we bury them underneath our addictive behaviors and thought patterns. We often avoid dealing with our emotions because of how difficult and painful they can be. This avoidance has a way of exacerbating our addictions and compounding our pain. Here are some of the emotions we commonly feel when living with addictions.


When struggling with addictions, we often feel a deep sense of shame, for letting the people we care about down and for disappointing them, not to mention ourselves, for failing to reach our goals of sobriety, for not living up to our potential. We are caught in cycles of behaviors that we know we need to stop, that we want to stop. When we can’t stop, we feel weak, pathetic, ashamed and embarrassed. We are often consumed with regret and remorse. We feel unable to forgive ourselves. This painful buildup of shame often compels us to want to escape via our drugs of choice, which, as we know, only increases our shame.


Because addiction is often judged and stigmatized, sometimes we forget that at the root of people’s addictions there often lies a deep sadness. We carry grief from our traumatic childhoods, past relationships and other difficult life experiences. As we self-destruct with our addictive behaviors, we accumulate more sadness- about our feelings of unworthiness, about the pain we’ve caused other people and ourselves. We see the effects our addictions have on us and the people we care about, and it can be very sad, for everyone involved. Sometimes trying to escape our sadness was what initially prompted us to engage in our addictive behaviors in the first place.


Addiction and depression often go hand in hand. As we try to quit and can’t, we often become more and more depressed. Feelings of despair and hopelessness are common in both addiction and depression. Sometimes we don’t know where to turn or who to ask for help. Sometimes we feel so convinced that there’s no hope that we feel it’s useless to seek help. We feel deeply alone, scared, lost, overwhelmed and confused. Maybe we’ve already sought help, even received treatment, but our relapses cause us to believe we’ll never fully recover. We’ve been in darkness so long that we not only can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, we believe there is no light at all. We seek comfort in our drugs of choice, thus perpetuating the cycle. The painful hopelessness we feel drives many of us to consider taking our own lives.

We can learn how to work through our painful emotions. It is far from easy but so necessary for our healing.

There is hope. Recovering from our addictions means facing our emotions, and the community at Enlightened Solutions is here to help. Call (833) 801-LIVE.

Healthy Ways to Express Your Emotions

Healthy Ways to Express Your Emotions

All too often we hold in our difficult emotions, which is really toxic for our mental and emotional health. When we suppress our emotions, sometimes it’s because we are afraid to handle them, sometimes because we don’t know how to express them. Sometimes we don’t feel the space is safe to share our pain and vulnerability. Sometimes we don’t have the tools to express ourselves. Sometimes it’s just scary, anxiety-inducing and painful, and we avoid it as much as possible. We use our drugs of choice, we distract ourselves, we bury our emotions under other issues.

When we don’t work to heal our emotions, they have a way of coming repeatedly. We develop all kinds of life cycle patterns- mental and emotional illnesses, addictions, financial struggles, relationship issues, and so on. When we look at our patterns, chances are we’ll find emotions we haven’t fully dealt with and fears we haven’t yet faced. The resulting problems will keep returning, to test us, to determine if we’ve learned the lessons we’re meant to learn. When we’re used to drowning our sorrows in ice cream or Netflix, or sex or alcohol, it can feel overwhelming and scary to face our emotions directly. Sometimes we don’t even know where to begin. Let’s go back to the basics.


Many of us have a very hard time with this one. Maybe the people you’ve confided in have hurt you and you’re afraid to get hurt again. Maybe you feel like you don’t have anyone to talk to. Maybe you find it hard to talk in general and avoid difficult subjects. Talking things out with someone else can be comforting and remind us we’re not alone. If we’re open to it, we might receive really helpful advice, guidance and wisdom. It can be in therapy, with friends or family, in a support group, or calling a help line- being able to open up and talk is an important step towards healing.


Our culture tells us it’s weak to cry, especially in public, and that it’s something we should be embarrassed by. We’re taught to hold in it. Crying helps release stuck emotions as well as toxins stored in our bodies. Often we feel the wave of emotion come and we hold it back instead of letting ourselves cry. This suppressing of our feelings can be so destructive for our mental and emotional health. Let it out!


Music can help us express our emotions by allowing us to really feel them, right alongside the stories and pain of our favorite songs. Music can inspire us to be honest and vulnerable about our feelings and experiences. Music is powerfully transformative; whether you’re listening or creating, it’s such a gift.

Holistic healing means finding solutions to our mental and emotional challenges. Enlightened Solutions is here to help. Call (833) 801-LIVE.


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5 Tips For Setting Goals

For those in recovery sometimes “what are your goals” only has one answer: staying sober. Living life sober gives you an opportunity to go after whatever you wnt in life. Here are some suggestions for getting started.

How Do You Want To Feel?

Most often, our goals come with a feeling. When we achieve that goal, we imagine feeling a certain way about ourselves and as ourselves. Perhaps more confident, more capable, or more accomplished. Envision your goal in mind. How do you imagine you will feel once you achieve it? Are there feelings assosciated with this goal that you think you can only have if you achieve it?

Keep Yourself Inspired

Goals, no matter how big or small, can seem impossible when we are in a negative mindset. Stay inspired about your goal by setting little reminders of why you’re working so hard for it. Focus on that moment where you achieve your goal and how good it will feel. Leave yourself encouraging notes. Read stories of others who have gone after a siilar thing. Everyone experiences feeling discouraged and afraid of failure.

Get A Goal Buddy!

Accountability is key to achieving your goals. Have some who is working on the same or a similar goal to help cheer you on and give inspiration to as well. Sometimes it is our pep talks to others that we personally need to hear the most. Your goal buddy will help you stay on track and keeping working toward what you want.

Set A Time Limit

Goals aren’t indefinite- they’re definite and finite things we want to accomplish. How much can you work toward your goal each day? Each month? In six months? You’re capable of accomplishing more than you know. Don’t make your goals indefinite. Set a reasonable amount of time to achieve it and you will.

Choose Something Realistic

We can’t change our body types, become millionaires in a day, or excel in a hobby we’ve never tired before when we try it for the first time. There are rare occurrencesof these things happening, but such miracles aren’t common. Make sure you know what you are going after is a realistic opportunity. It doesn’t mean you can’t dream big- dream as big as you want- but separate your dreams from fantasies.

Enlightened Soltuions is here to help s=you reach your goal of lifelong recovery. Our dual diagnosis problems serve those in need of treatment for mental health and substance use disorders. Call us today for inofrmaiton on how we can help you achieve your goals 833-801-5483.

Crying is a Sign of Strength, Not Weakness

Crying is the body’s way to not only reduce emotional stress, but also process it. Think of emotions as an invisible force moving through the body. People tend to think that just because they cannot see or feel their feelings, when they refuse to feel them, they simply go away. Unfortunately, that just isn’t true...

When emotions are held back, such as swallowing or holding back tears, the emotional energy gets congested in the body. Rather than having that flow of emotional force circulating and completing its cycle, it gets stopped up. Thankfully, however, this cycle can be reversed.

Eastern practices of medicine like acupuncture and massage believe that the body physically stores emotion.

Similarly, therapies like DBT teach us that connecting to one's emotions allows us to respond to an emotional experience more effectively and change the ineffective response patterns we have relied on previously.

For many people, stress causes headaches, neck aches, shoulder tension, and backaches. People have tight hips because the hips are one of the body’s major emotional energy storage spaces. Certain exercises & meditation practices mitigate these physical effects.

The Social Challenge Associated With Expressing Our Emotions

Sadly, society has stigmatized the expression of sadness. When somebody cries the common reaction is to make the crying stop. Unknowingly, when someone responds to tears with “Ssssh don’t cry” they’re actually saying, “Stop expressing your emotion through crying, it’s making me uncomfortable,” which really says “Your emotions make people uncomfortable,” which eventually translates to, “feelings are bad”. It’s a tough situation trying to feel! Coincidentally, it is not the comfort, tears, or sympathy of another person which alleviates the emotion behind crying. High percentages of people feel a sense of relief after crying.

Understanding The Complex Importance of Grief And Other Emotions...

Crying is a sign of strength because it is a demonstration of a completely comfortable relationship with the self. Choosing to cry and feel is a choice in the interest of one's emotional health. Choosing to cry is also choosing not to care about the opinions of others. Since crying is so stigmatized, rising above society’s thoughts is pure authenticity. Crying also helps set an example to others. Especially in recovery when peers are struggling to connect with, articulate, and express their own emotions, seeing someone freely express themselves is inspiring. Not only will they learn from the act of crying, but they will see the transformation that takes place from working through emotions.

See Also: Why We Work Through Introspection and Healing

Feeling feelings, allowing emotions to be processed, and crying will feel foreign in early recovery. Drugs and alcohol are anesthetizing, numbing the mind as well as the body. Most will admit that part of the allure for abusing drugs and alcohol came with the feeling of not having to feel. Suddenly dealing with all the emotions which haven’t been felt in years can be challenging and triggering. Remember to cry, to feel, and to just let it all out. As with all this, this too shall pass, and recovery will be the better for it.

Work With A Program That Understands The Importance Of Expressing Our Emotions