Talking with someone else about our feelings is a fundamental need we have as humans. We need to share and associate with others as we go about our daily lives. To be able to share with someone else the thoughts and feelings that make us who we are helps us remain healthy and help us feel connected. Sometimes we don’t relate to others for whatever reason—fear of their response, pride, society or cultural norms, and many others. When we don’t share our feelings with others they tend to build up and they become hard to manage. Eventually, we get so full that we cannot hold them in any longer. Whatever we have been holding in will come out and when it comes it will be painful for us and for those around us. At times, we spend a lot of our time cleaning up the mess left behind by these periods of overflow.
Maybe you have experienced something like this. You are feeling stressed out because of the many problems in your life. When you think it couldn’t possibly get any worse, it does. You are worried about many things and find yourself easily irritated. Someone says or does something that you would normally be able to ignore but this time you over-react. Maybe even to an extreme amount that causes hurt feelings between you and the other person. This is a perfect example of overflow. We only have so much ability to hold in emotions and stress and when we reach our limit any small thing can set us off.
Everyone is different. Some have a greater ability to let things slide and keep from worrying but don’t be fooled stress and worry can be a problem for anyone in the right situation. Some people don’t seem to be able to handle anything. Everything bothers them and makes them nervous. On the other hand, some seem to be able to handle anything—nothing seems to bother them. But, the truth is people who handle stress in both of these styles can be emotionally and physically damaged by excessive stress. Stress can lead to many health problems up to and including heart disease and stroke.
“All secrets are deep. All secrets become dark. That's in the nature of secrets.” -Cory Doctorow
One of the dangers we run into is that of keeping secrets. Secrets are dangerous to our emotional health. They create many problems and complications that lead to a variety of problems including relapse to drugs, alcohol, and/or other problem behaviors. Secrets often begin innocently as temptations or thoughts that can be easily dealt with. There are different kinds of thoughts—those we have on purpose and those that just seem to come from nowhere. A thought that pops in our head from nowhere is an innocent thought.
Let’s take a look at a possible example. A typical situation might be you are going somewhere that has something you are trying to avoid—let’s say beer. You have just filled up your gas tank at a local convenient store and go inside to pay. As you walk to the counter you pass by a stack of 24 packs of your favorite beer. Immediately, the thought pops in your head that a beer right now would taste really good. But, you have decided that you are not going to drink any beer. So, you turn away from the beer and feel good about your will-power. You pay for your gas and pass the beer again on the way out to the car. You may even look away intentionally to avoid thinking about it. On the way home, you think about how the thought kind of surprised you and you again feel good about the fact that you so easily turned away from the temptation. That may seem like the end of it. The problem comes when that simple thought or temptation is held in and becomes a secret. We take simple thoughts like this and make them secrets for many reasons—we are afraid of what others will think about us if we tell them about the thought. Possibly, a spouse may chide us for thinking about drinking even though we had promised that we would not. Or, a friend who is still drinking might give us a hard time and say “I knew you weren’t going to quit.” There are many reasons why we don’t tell anyone but the end result is we allow an innocent thought to become a secret. The secret does not stay an innocent thought for long in the process of hiding it gains strength and momentum and can soon become an unbearable desire.
As with other examples, don’t get stuck on the details of the example, whether it is drinking or drugs or other behaviors. Look for the truths behind the details that you are able to relate to. It is easy to get hung up on the specifics and talk yourself into believing that it doesn’t refer to anything in you when it does.
The point here is we allow an innocent thought to become something unbearably powerful but keeping it hidden. We must share our thoughts and desires with others. By sharing them with others we decrease their power over us. By talking about them we gain power to control them better.
There are many ways to share with others by talking. Most people have someone they feel comfortable sharing with. Sometimes it just takes a little determination and effort to get the ball rolling, so to speak. You might find that talking with a friend, wife, husband, brother, sister, therapist, or in a group of others that share similar problems and goals can be a wonderful way to express your feelings and greatly decrease the amount of pressure in your life.
I hope you have enjoyed this excerpt from my eBook, Handling Stress and Anxiety.
The PDF version of this ebook is available here: http://toolkit.STABLERecovery.com/Handling-Stress-and-Anxiety-eBook.html
Kindle version of this ebook is available here: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B004GUS8HC?tag=honoringgodminis&camp=213381&cre...
Tim has a masters degree in Mental Health Counseling and is a Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor. He has 20 years of experience as a therapist working with mental health, addictions, and co-occurring disorders.
Tim states, "I am very passionate about living a balanced, healthy life in recovery since I know the benefits in my life and struggles with additive behaviors."