One of the things I had to learn was the receptors in the mind that receive emotion are the same receptors triggered by drugs, endorphins etc and that just like I can get addicted to heroin or alcohol, I get addicted to negative emotions, it's the exact same thing
, so one of the things I do in sobriety, am doing, is remapping my brain.
I had to learn that since I was addicted to negativity I would unconsciously create and recreate situations that would generate negative emotions, that's why it said in recovery that suffering is optional, and we avoid the deliberate manufacture of misery.
The best, and quite frankly one of the only ways I know how to do that is to help others, it's not a matter of minimizing my emotions but being aware that they are usually lying to me. One way is they try to make me so miserable that taking a drink or drug is a good idea, the other is, the truth of the matter is I am addicted to negative emotions, that's why we so frequently sabotage ourselves, our lives and our relationships. We are comfortable being uncomfortable, suffering is our normal, that's why we drink and used was to "feel better".
It takes 90 days to break and change habits and I have read it takes a year to remap the receptors in the brain, so in that year I practice practice practice focusing on the positive, focusing on helping others, focusing on not thinking about myself, that's why they call Buddhism a practice, and why in the twelve steps it says we practice these principals, because we have to exercise those muscles.
Einstein said we cant fix the problem with the same level of thinking that caused the problem, and I needed to learn that dwelling in negative thoughts WAS the problem...literally....that's what's wrong with me, and so I need to realize that my thinking will lead me back to that place, my mind is not my friend.
It took me many many years of sobriety to learn this, and truthfully it was on hindsight, there was a period of years when all my dreams came true, I lived with a beautiful woman in a wonderful house, I spent 4 months a year on surf trips vacationing around the world, I was a quasi-well known sculptor, and I surfed or sculpted during my work shifts (I was a paramedic in a beach town) and I have never been so miserable in my life.
So if circumstances were enough to make me happy I would have been deliriously happy, but I was MISERABLE. So what did I learn from that experience?
That the truth of the matter is I didn't know how to be happy. The old timers had tried to explain that to me repeatedly but I didn't understand what they were trying to say. How to Be Happy - wikiHow
In the 1970s, researchers followed people who'd won the lottery and found that a year after they'd hit the jackpot, they were no happier than the people who didn't. They called it hedonic adaptation, which suggests that we each have a baseline level of happiness. No matter what happens, good or bad, the effect on our happiness is only temporary and we tend to rebound to our baseline level. Some people have a higher baseline happiness level than others, and that can be attributed in part to genetics, but it's also largely influenced by how you think |
In one study, two groups of people were asked to pick out a poster to take home. One group was asked to analyze their decision carefully, weighing the pros and cons, and the other group was told to listen to their gut. Two weeks later, the group that followed their gut was happier with their posters than the group that analyzed their decisions
So what these facts say to me is my brain is untrustworthy, it spends a great deal of time lying to me, and learning how to differentiate between the deliberate manufacture of misery and reality becomes of critical importance in my sobriety if I expect to either remain sober or have a happy contented life.
Feel your feelings by all means, but for me I have to realize that feelings aren't facts and that my emotional state has absolutely nothing to do with reality and has no bearing to what's actually happening in my life