Thursday, November 12, 2009
A client named "Dave" came to me for help dealing with his addiction to drugs and alcohol. Dave knew if he continued on the self-destructive path he was on, he would continue to be miserable and would end up with severe health issues. At a young age Dave became addicted to drugs in order to self-medicate himself from the painful feelings he experienced on a regular basis. These painful feelings were a result of growing up in a household that was void of love. My client grew up feeling worthless and unloveable because his parents never expressed any emotions, except for negative ones. Dave never felt "good enough" and as a result, his self-esteem greatly suffered. Even though Dave appeared to have the perfect life on the outside, he was in great pain on the inside.
Dave had recently become engaged and he wanted to take control of his life in order to be happy in his marriage. Up until this point, Dave had hid his addictions from his fiance. He would drink and use drugs in secret when his wife wasn't around. The guilt of leading a double life was eating away at Dave. In his seemingly "perfect" life, Dave came across as a great father, husband, and businessman. Everyone loved Dave because he always took care of everyone around him. The only problem was that Dave didn't love himself, and because of this, he didn't take care of himself. Since he viewed himself as worthless, he would binge drink and use drugs to quiet the feelings of shame, guilt, and anxiety that overwhelmed him.
In working with Dave to increase joy and peace in his life, I coached him to be honest with himself about his painful feelings. Only until we get in touch with our painful feeilngs, can we truly heal ourselves. When Dave had the intense desire to drink or use drugs, I had him pay attention to what he was feeling. I told him to not judge the feelings but allow the feelings to exist as they were. When we allow feelings to come and go, these feelings no longer dominate us. We are no longer scared by them. Worry, anxiety, and fear may come strolling along in our minds and instead of freaking out, we can analyze the feelings. By analyzing our feelings, we realize our feelings don't own us or dictate are self-worth.
Being honest with ourselves about what we are feeling is extremely liberating. Dave confessed he was scared about not being a good enough husband to his new wife. He hadn't told anyone this and just by acknowledging the truth, he felt a huge sense of relief. We talked through his concern and he realized his worry was a mere mental construct. Dave had to learn to believe in himself and see the good that everyone else saw in him.
If you are dealing with addictions, insomnia, or anything else that is a result of painful feelings, stop trying to avoid these feelings. Own them. Analyze them. Work through the feelings and then let them go. You are more than your painful feelings. You deserve to feel light, happy, and at peace!
Colleen Canney is a Career, Life, and Wellness Coach based in Seattle, WA. She coaches clients both in-person and via telephone around the US. For more information on Colleen, please visit her website at: www.colleencanney.com or contact her via email at email@example.com.