Developing Your Emotional Intelligence Can Keep You Sober

Sober | LakehouseRecoveryCenter.comThere’s something peculiar about the way we think about intelligence. Typically, when you were in school, you took several standardized tests that together yielded a score, which is what most people know as the Intelligence Quotient (IQ).

The average or median of these tests is 100 with 95% of the population falling between 70 and 130.

The socially popular thought is that any person with an IQ higher than 130 must have it made. They are destined to be successful. However, this is definitely not the case. In recent years, therapists, psychologists, and other mental health professionals are seeing the value of emotional intelligence.

This is the ability to be aware of what you are feeling, why you’re feeling it, and what physical sensations you are having as a result. It’s also the ability to be aware of the emotions of others.

It doesn’t mean that you are responsible for the feelings of others; but rather that you can be empathetic and compassionate. Developing emotional awareness can facilitate having healthy, functional, and loving relationships.

Emotional awareness allows you to identify and express what you are feeling moment by moment. It’s also the ability to understand the relationship between what you are feeling and how you choose to behave. It is a skill that can be cultivated over time.

Things You Will Learn How To Do

  • Recognize your moment-to-moment emotional experience
  • Handle all of your emotions without becoming overwhelmed

One significant contributor to the development of addiction is the inability to cope with strong emotions, such as fear, anxiety, anger, or shame. The inability to manage these intense emotions can lead to an alternative way of coping with them. Often, dysfunctional coping mechanisms develop such as drug use and drinking.

But, it’s true that it can be incredibly challenging to manage feelings when they are frightening or overwhelming, especially if they are from the past or the early years of childhood. Plus, uncomfortable feelings such as anger or shame might also be accompanied by fear, helplessness, and powerlessness.

Intense emotions can lead to a need to shut down or feeling like you want to go unconscious rather than facing them. Getting drunk and getting high are ways to do just that.

Tools To Facilitate Sobriety

Therefore, having tools that allow you to recognize and respond to emotions can facilitate sobriety. Being able to recognize, versus repress, emotions is a form of emotional intelligence. It’s becoming aware of your emotional landscape.

Furthermore, cultivating emotional awareness can support the ability to respond versus react. In other words, becoming more aware of your feelings can help put some distance between the stimulus and your response.

Frequently, arguments explode between two people, especially among family members, when a person reacts to a thought or feeling he or she is having within. However, being able to put a pause in between feelings and quick reactions to those feelings can prevent angry outbursts and saying things one regrets later.

Interestingly, emotional awareness has everything to do with anxiety and stress, which frequently contribute to family conflict and struggling family relationships. An individual won’t be able to manage their emotions unless he or she knows how to manage stress.

The two are inherently related. Because emotions are unpredictable, they can come on strongly at times and create a stressful experience. Learning how to manage emotions, similar to the ability to manage stress, depends first on a person’s level of awareness.

The Bad Affects of An Inability to Manage Emotions

The inability to manage emotions can lead to dysfunctional coping mechanisms such as drug use, drinking, cutting, aggression, and other forms of risky behavior. It can be challenging to manage feelings when they seem frightening or overwhelming. They might be accompanied by fear, helplessness, and powerlessness.

These emotions might also lead to shutting down. Therefore, having tools that allow the ability to manage emotions and/or stress quickly can support your sobriety. But it’s not just your sobriety, you’ll also notice that your relationships with improve, you’ll be more centered and able to manage life’s challenges.

Most importantly, you will be able to respond to life in healthy and loving ways, even when life feels difficult.


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