Goodbye Booze, Hello Feelings

I can hardly believe it!!! Today marks Day 160 of being completely alcohol free. I am not only surviving on this booze-free, 365-day challenge, but thriving amidst a culture, friends and colleagues that tout alcohol as the magic pill for happiness, relationships and success. Alcohol is everywhere.

Today, I feel like writing about… feelings. As the old song by Julio Inglesias goes, “Feelings…oh, oh, oh, feelings!” They can lift us up or rip us apart. The good feelings feel good and the bad ones drag us to the depths of despair.

The ironic thing is that feelings are hatched from within our very own brains.

According to Livestrong.com, “Emotions…are carried out by the limbic system, which is located in the temporal lobe. While the limbic system is made up of multiple parts of the brain, the center of emotional processing is the amygdala, which receives input from other brain functions, like memory and attention.”

I’m no brain expert, but I have studied enough research on the topic to agree that alcohol consumption has a direct effect on our amygdala and that when we don’t feel and process the feelings we need to, they can get repressed. And once unproductive emotions are stuffed into our subconscious, they can open of a can of whoopass for self-sabotaging behavior.

As for me, I was born a sensitive soul and I bet that many of you reading this were too.

There are positives and negatives to this quality. On the upside, us sensitive people have what is called high emotional intelligence, which is the capacity to be aware of, control, and express one’s emotions and to also handle interpersonal relationships with empathy. On the downside, we tend to feel emotions pretty intensely. So when the sadness, anger, loneliness and such sneak in, it’s not a recipe for good results– “Three glasses of wine, please!”

What I am discovering is that when we remove alcohol from our lives we have to face the music. Acknowledging and processing emotions that feel downright crappy is tough work. This is where daily meditation with the Headspace App has dramatically helped me.

For today, I’d like to share a couple more things I’m learning along my journey:

LESSON ONE: The power of being part of a like-minded community. Primally, we are hard-wired to live, work and socialize in community. Unfortunately, the trend of cocooning and the boom of the digital world are taking us in the opposite direction. When we are in community with encouraging and supportive people, when we feel acknowledged–magic happens.

LESSON TWO: The importance of expressing true thoughts and feelings.  Like me, some of you may have a tendency to be a people pleaser. I never would have classified myself as one of these until I went booze free and started studying certain personality types. Nonetheless, thanks to being clear-headed I now know the importance of dialing down my inner people pleaser and speaking up when necessary. This is a work in progress, for sure. Not doing so out of fear that I might make another person uncomfortable or angry–is not being respectful to oneself and can affect overall health. Yes, I do believe silence can be golden, but there are times where we simply must speak up relative to how we feel.

Here’s the rub–how we express our truth matters as it must be done from a place of calm confidence. Delivery is everything.

Another alternative to expressing our uncomfortable emotions and thoughts out loud is to journal. It has been proven through research time and again that getting negative feelings out of our head and onto paper relieves stress and depression.

So that’s it for today. “Feelings…oh, oh, oh feelings!”

Cheers and hugs,

Kathleen

 

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