Dealing with our emotions

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by Childofmine, Nov 19, 2015.

  1. Childofmine

    Childofmine one day at a time

    Good Morning Friends...Today's email from Richard Rohr (one of my alltime heroes) gets exactly at one of the issues we struggle with: our emotions and reacting to our Difficult Child based on our emotions.

    This is a lesson it took me a very long time to learn as I am very much a "feelings" person. I always thought if you "felt it, it must be true." And I based many of my decisions on my feelings. When I first heard this concept---that my feelings are real but not necessarily something I should **Act** on, I rejected it immediately, for one primary reason: I couldn't live with not acting when I felt a very strong emotion. I **HAD** to act to make myself feel better, to release the anxiety, and in truth, to do something, anything to try to get control of the situation. It was more about my need to control events (even with the best of intentions) than anything. I came to this realization after a lot of work in Al-Anon and a lot of soul-baring self-reflection, which is the fruit of Al-Anon.

    I thought this reading might be helpful to many of us today.


    Emotional Sobriety
    Thursday, November 19, 2015
    Bill Wilson saw "emotional sobriety" as the final culmination of the Twelve Steps. Full sobriety is not just to stop drinking, but to become a spiritually awakened person who has found some degree of detachment from your own narcissistic emotional responses. The word emotion comes from the Latin for movement. It's a body-based reaction that snags you quickly and urgently. The body holds shame, guilt, hurts, memories, and childhood conditioning. Emotions feel like truth. So it's very hard to "unhook" from our feelings. This is true for all of us.

    Emotions in and of themselves have no moral value; they are neither good nor bad. They are just sirens alerting us of something we should pay attention to. If we learn to listen to them instead of always obeying them, they can be very good teachers. We need to be aware that our emotions can mislead us because we often misread the situation. Emotions are far too self-referential and based in our early practiced neural responses, or what some call our defense mechanisms. Our basic "programs for survival," which are the source of most emotions, are largely in place by the age of four or five. The three most common programs involve the needs for 1) survival and security, 2) affection and esteem, and 3) power and control. (These correlate to the head, the heart, and the gut centers of the Enneagram.)

    We build our lives around our programs for survival, which we falsely assume will give us happiness. The problem is, these programs will not work in the long haul. They are almost entirely dependent on outside events and other people conforming to our needs. They are inherently unstable because your happiness moment by moment is based outside of yourself. All the great religions of the world at the highest levels would say God alone--something stable, inside us, and reliable--is the source of all sustained happiness. Once you encounter a Loving God (not the toxic, judgmental, punishing version of God that many of us have grown up with), you have found both your Ground and your Goal. John of the Cross, Teresa of Ávila, and many other mystics believed the experience of absolute union between God and the soul is essential to transformation. Then happiness is an "inside job" and not dependent on outer circumstances or other peoples' response to you. Of course, you will still have ups and downs and emotions of all kinds, but they don't have you. You don't identifywith them; you let them come and you let them go.

    You could define your ego self as all the things you are attached to, including your own ways of thinking, feeling, and seeing, your program for happiness, your addictions, and your childhood conditioning. Even though you will find these are not working for you, like an addict, you keep doing them over and over again, thinking the result will change. The pattern becomes repetitive, obsessive, and compulsive. Your early spiritual practice must be anything that helps you recognize the problem, detach from this cycle, and stop the obsessive repetition of patterns. Over time, this practice will rewire the brain itself. It is work, even though grace keeps you doing the work!

    Contemplation or Centering Prayer can help here. For twenty minutes perhaps, you choose to not cater to your thoughts, emotions, addictions, and programs for happiness. You are not allowing them to have you, but instead you have them--as a little listening and learning device. The Indwelling Holy Spirit is the Stable Witness that calmly joins you in compassionately observing your thoughts and emotions and then compassionately letting go of them. Bill Wilson called this Step 11, and I am told it is the one taught the least, because until the last decades we had very few teachers of true contemplative prayer.
    Gateway to Silence
    Breathing in--receiving mercy; breathing out--letting go

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    Last edited: Nov 19, 2015
  2. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    I read this too this morning.

    I found these descriptions meaningful:

    Emotional sobriety: Someone who has found some degree of detachment from his own narcissistic emotional responses.

    Emotion: A body-based reaction that snags you quickly and urgently.

    The body holds shame, guilt, hurts, memories, childhood conditioning.

    Emotions feel like truth.

    Survival, security: head
    Affection, esteem: heart
    Power, control: gut

    An interesting article for me, today.

    Thank you, COM.

  3. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Thanks, COM. Just excellent, as always.
  4. Tanya M

    Tanya M Living with an attitude of gratitude Staff Member

    Good stuff COM!!
    Thanks so much for sharing this with us.
  5. New Leaf

    New Leaf Well-Known Member

    Thank you COM, this is a great read. I have not heard before of the Ennegram and will look further into it.

    So simple, thank you.

    I have been off center, missing my early walks, I think they provide me with time to just be.
    Movement and breathing in the morning air. Getting back to that.
    Indwelling Holy Spirit, I like this. God is within us. Calmness is key.

    A lot to reflect on.

    Thank you very much COM.

    Peace to you
  6. Carolita2

    Carolita2 Member

    This,was so helpful and enlightening..Could you share what book it is from Childofmine. I am just beginning to understand my emotion and the stories I tell myself that may not be,true when I be counter them, especially fear..I have been paralyzed with it for years, and am so grateful that it's grip is loosening as I face reality, my powerlessness over others, and rely more on the higher power.
    I must admit that the heart problem I have been having has caused me to finally take better care of myself and in that way is a blessing...
  7. Childofmine

    Childofmine one day at a time

    Here is another good one this week from Richard Rohr about addiction:

    Twelve-Step Spirituality:
    Week 1

    Experiencing Intimacy
    Friday, November 20, 2015
    Addiction has been variously described as a moral weakness, a simple lack of willpower, a cowardly inability to face life, or a spiritual illness or disease. I agree with Alcoholics Anonymous that addiction is the latter: a disease of the soul, an illness resulting from longing, frustrated desire, and deep inner dissatisfaction and emptiness. Ironically, this is the necessary beginning of any spiritual path, much more than a moral failure. I have met so many people in recovery who are spiritually mature, sometimes more than those who are regular church-goers.

    A.A. says, in its own inspired way, that addicts are souls searching for love in all the wrong places, but still searching for love. The Twelve Step program has learned over time that addiction emerges out of a lack of inner experience of intimacy with oneself, with God, with life, and with the moment. I would drink myself into oblivion too, or look for some way to connect with solid reality, if I felt bereft of love, esteem, joy, or communion. Fortunately the Twelve Steps provide a "way to connect with solid reality." I suspect Bill W. knew that "can-do" Americans needed a program to get us going. We needed to "work the steps." He also knew that we would only realize over time that it is all grace from beginning to end. We cannot engineer our own enlightenment. It is largely done to us. Someone Else is the Doer.

    One helpful clarification is that many addicts tend to confuse intensity with intimacy, just as young people often do with noise, bright lights, fast movement, artificial highs, and overstimulation of any sort. Manufactured intensity and true intimacy are opposites. In the search for intimacy, the addict takes a false turn, hopefully just a detour, and relates to an object, a substance, an event, or a repetitive anything (shopping, thinking, blaming, abusing, eating) in a way that cannot give them the intimacy with the moment that they are really seeking. Then over time, the addict is forced to "up the ante" when the fix does not work. You will always need more and more of anything that is not working.

    If something is really working for you, then less and less will be required to satisfy you. When I return from my Lenten hermitage of under-stimulation, it takes very little to totally delight me. It seems like everything has been painted with rich and new colors. Everything has fresh and full meaning. The addict has actually denied himself this joy, a happiness that is everywhere and always, a simple feeling of being alive, when our very feet connect lovingly with the ground beneath us, and our head and hair meet the undeserved air.

    Addicts develop a love and trust relationship with a substance or compulsion of some kind, which becomes their primary emotional relationship with life itself. This is a god who cannot save. It is momentary intensity passing for the intimacy they really want, and it is quickly over. I urge all of us--consumers, compulsives, and unconscious alike--to not waste any more time or worship on gods that cannot save. We were made to breathe the Air that always surrounds us, feeds us, and fills us. Some of us call this experience God, but the word is not important.

    Gateway to Silence
    Breathing in--receiving mercy; breathing out--letting go
  8. Childofmine

    Childofmine one day at a time

    A bit more about Richard Rohr...he is a well established Franciscan priest and author of multiple books who also runs a contemplative center in New Mexico. You can register at his Website

    and get the daily meditation for free.

    I actually went to a conference in NM this summer at his center.

    He holds a lot of wisdom for me on this journey.
  9. Carolita2

    Carolita2 Member

    Thanks COM. I just signed up for the daily meditation.Thank you. Spiritual help may be the only real help for my family right now. It feels like I am abandoning my son, this letting go..but yet holding on, trying to control and fixing, has changed nothing and has caused me to develop a few health issues. The more I take care of myself the healthier I am mentally, physically and spiritually.
    I know the only person I can change is me..I am sad for my son, very, but I am powerless. I never thought that I would be in this place but I just am battle weary and feel compelled to take care of myself right now..even if just for today. If I can be calm, rational and not coming from a place of fear and control, when interacting with son I will make better decisions and have more to offer in the situation.
    So grateful for these recovery tools you and others are sharing on this website.
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