Often one tends to smoke out their frustration, or drink excessively to forget about a dull day, or take that extra plate of dessert to get over the miserable feeling of an embarrassing event.
People use substances of pleasure as rewards, as means of coping mechanisms. Thus one requires emotional balance to stop themselves from such behavior that is harmful or toxic to one’s health.
They feel getting addicted to release their stress and feel better about themselves is their only resort. And somehow, they even find comfort in that toxicity. Thus, it is required for them to step back and realize that the way to life is different.
To get over their hurt and past traumatic experiences, they need to revisit it in a better position and heal them, rather than making their future more miserable. The process of getting over hurt and toxicity and moving on is what emotional sobriety is.
The term emotional sobriety is quite uncommon to you if you’re not someone from the psychology field. Thankfully, there’s enough study about the topic now that we can easily understand the term and be better at self-help.
Author, Psychologist- Tian Dayton has written a complete guide with the help of neuropsychology to break down the study for a better understanding. In this article, we will provide a book review on Dayton’s most popular book Emotional Sobriety: From Relationship Trauma to Resilience and Balance.
But before that, here’s a general definition of emotional sobriety.
What does emotional sobriety mean?
Emotional sobriety encompasses why and how one indulges in substance abuse as coping mechanisms and the stages of getting better from issues without the use or help of substances. It is abstaining from self-destructive ways and healing from emotional disturbance. It is living a life with emotional balance.
Sobriety literally means the state of sobering up from toxic intake and, in case of emotional damage, when a person usually uses substances or indulges in compulsive harmful behavior to get rid of extreme feelings.
It is when one needs to sober up from thief addiction, and emotional sobriety becomes their necessity.
It is beyond physical sobriety
Emotional sobriety means the ability to experience, face and accept even the most painful emotions. To visit the pain and train your mind that it does not hurt anymore and does not need to be held on. And you shouldn’t let it control you. You shouldn’t give power to the painful experiences of the past that shadow your development.
Emotional sobriety helps you deal with your mind, thoughts, and feelings more rationally. It strengthens you and improves your overall mental health and quality of life, and it is a good thing for those with a substance use disorder.
Emotional sobriety for mental health
Emotional sobriety is complicated to define, but typically it is the ability to experience any emotional experience. Negative feelings are often the triggers of negative emotions and promote substance usage, but when these feelings are not controlled, one becomes more likely to relapse.
Developing emotional sobriety is a complicated and long process, but it includes using good strategies to handle those negative feelings and establish self-control. If one loses the balance between their thoughts and feelings, they tend to let their feelings take over their rationality and indulge in activities that become an addiction to feeling better about themselves.
Thus it is necessary to process emotions, balance them and not let them get the best of us. Emotional regulation helps us do a lot better. It helps us in staying sober and clear in our thoughts. It improves our mental health and lets us stay calm even when overwhelmed with strong emotions.
From psychologist Tian Dayton Desk
Talking about the importance of emotional sobriety for mental health and a good lifestyle, psychologist Tian Dayton has published a book called ‘Emotional Sobriety: From Relationship Trauma to Resilience and Balance.
Tian Dayton is a psychologist and holds a master’s degree in arts as well as educational psychology. She also holds a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and is a certified trainer in psychodrama too.
She has received many accolades and recognitions for her intellectuals. She has written many best-selling self-help books based on her experience and research, including Emotional Sobriety.
Tian Dayton’s Emotional Sobriety: From Relationship Trauma to Resilience and Balance.
The book is based on how thoughts and emotions are different concepts that often overlap and we need to keep them balanced. It focuses on new perspectives of the recovery journey of someone who grew up with addiction, dysfunction, and abuse trauma. Physical sobriety is needed for emotional sobriety too.
The book helps you perceive your true self and enables you to work on yourself for the better. It is a must-read if you think you go through anything as mentioned above.
Here’s how Dayton asks to achieve emotional sobriety:
Reach out to your childhood wounds
At the beginning of the book, Tian Dayton explains how our childhood is reserved to only parental love and how a child looks for comfort and consolation through them. But, if the parents are the prime stressors for the child, they tend to lose their way back to regulating their emotions. They are more prone to psychological damage if their home is in disarray.
It takes forever for them to process their emotions and find comfort, and they tend to be victims of trauma, which takes a toll on them in their future relations. Children who’ve seen it all since their childhood struggle a lot silently, and they tend to become more used to finding other external regulators to lift their mood.
Children of Alcoholics
Dayton, through her book, tells how children who grow up in dysfunctional families or with alcoholic parents live an absolutely different life than other children. The term is used for children who have matured living with parents who are alcohol addicts.
These children usually grow up more mature than others, but they are very sensitive in managing their emotions. They grow up with undermined personalities and don’t often know how to keep their extreme emotions under check.
Through her personal experiences, case studies, and researches, she explains how to rewire the negative emotions triggered by trauma that overpower one’s thoughts.
She details through neuropsychology the inter-relation between the system controlling our feelings and the thinking part of our brain that helps one reverse the negative effects of trauma that would inject into their future relationships.
She talks about her childhood instances and how she lived her life being an adult child of alcoholics. She explains the process of becoming emotionally sober and how it is attained in a better way other than alcohol addiction or any other addiction.
Limbic System and Prefrontal Cortex
The book sheds light on undoing the past traumatic damage of abuse and addiction and explains the mind and body relationship to establish emotional and physical sobriety. Dayton very simply explains how one should create a substantial balance between the limbic system and the cortex.
The limbic system is the part of our brain that controls emotions, and the prefrontal cortex does the thinking part.
According to her, one should take notice of their negative emotions and not let them overpower their thoughts so they can do better in their personal life, career, and romantic relationships.
They should maintain control over their emotions and refrain from letting them take control over their thoughts. When a good balance is maintained between the two, one has better control over their minds, and it helps them with good mental health.
How to get over ‘relationship trauma’?
Relationship trauma stems from the fact that human beings have an instinct to build connections with each other. It is because we as humans have a compulsion to stay with each other to feel loved, comforted, and have somebody to lean on.
It is because we have been in dire need of someone to rely on ever since childhood that we love and care so much in romantic relationships.
Dayton explains that being in a relationship where we emotionally depend so much on the other person is why it gets so easy to get hurt. And is one crucial reason people start fearing the concept of love.
They do not get over their previous trauma of having met the wrong person and find it hard to be themselves and open up to others in their future relationships.
How to develop resilience?
According to the author, resilience is something that takes time to develop. Especially children who have grown in dysfunctional families with only their basic needs being met and lacking family support.
They grew up learning how to deal with adversaries. They have developed resilience ever since. When faced with tough situations, they know that they can overcome them. Resilience actually comes to them as a silver lining in the dark cloud of dysfunctional families. They find their ways out of difficult times and go through them more bravely than others.
Comparatively, children who have been spoon-fed everything in life miss out on the basics. Sheltered children with zero worries undermine resilience. They do not know how to face tough times, and they get baffled looking at problems. They do not know how to grow out of it.
But being resilient doesn’t mean one stays unharmed in the process of struggling. Even those who have developed resilience get emotionally and psychologically scarred. However, they can still cope with tough situations better than others. They have the ability to thrive even through the odds.
Developing Emotional Sobriety
Tian Dayton, in her book, gives out methods to develop emotional sobriety. She explains the importance of having an emotional equilibrium. Following spiritual ideas, adapting behavioral therapies and developmental tasks is an effective way to establish a balance in our mind-body relationship.
The only way to develop emotional sobriety is to develop full control of your life. To live confidently in your own skin and not be anxious about your feelings. Most importantly to not let your feelings take over your thoughts.
Ways to distract yourself from negative emotions:
Emotional balance can be attained by instilling self-regulation skills and keeping good control over mind, body, and emotions, so you don’t let feelings get to your head. Live in the present moment and gradually resolve your childhood distress, so it does not affect your self-regulation. Develop effective skills to manage stress, anxiety, so it helps you in the process of recovery.
Find distracting activities that you are interested in for preventing relapse. Have patience and faith in your belief that you can get over it. Face situations with resilience and do not feel bewildered by your feelings. Inculcate hobbies that are peaceful for your mind.
Enhance your spirituality by meditation and having a healthy routine in life. Imbibe good soothing activities like reading, meditation, therapies instead of using drugs, drinking alcohol, or unnecessary spending, which take you towards destruction. Take up recreations that help you manage your emotion in a better way.
Look for your emotional neutral
Note the patterns of your emotional reactions to certain stimuli to become aware of your reactions. You must find out what’s really wrong with your feelings and mood, for example when you face a stressful event.
When you discover a pattern, try to become neutral or not react to that stimuli and make a habit so you can win over your negative emotions. To have an emotional neutral is an important step in becoming emotionally sober.
How can one achieve emotional sobriety?
Emotionally sobriety is a journey more than a state of being sober. It is not an overnight process. It takes time to heal your wounds, so one should take small and slow steps towards attaining a balanced mind and establishing resilience in one’s emotions.
Some techniques work better for some people than others, and the time it takes to manage emotion may be longer or shorter depending on the individual.
It is important to seek improved balance in life and have greater emotional awareness. It requires one to take risks to attempt de-addiction and adopt coping techniques that are healthy and effective.
Also, there are many other important tools and techniques that one should follow to relax their shaky sense of thoughts for living a balanced life.
The best thing that one can do to manage their emotions is to see a therapist. Often people neglect that and resort to addiction of every sort. But to heal, one needs to learn how to manage their emotions well. Meditation is a good way to attain that.
It takes a lot to have a hold over your emotions and understand right from wrong and vice-versa. Reflecting on their actions, noting where they went wrong, and how they can undo that is also very important in taking a firm grip over oneself. And, all of these are steps of the process of attaining emotional sobriety.
When someone is attempting to manage their emotions and walking down the lane of emotional sobriety, they attempt to suppress their negative feelings.
However, along the path, they do face milder negative emotions, which they deal with. The strength is to overpower them and keep going on with resilience.
Do I need emotional sobriety?
Dayton’s book is very efficient in making one realize the nooks of their lives, the parts that they want to heal. And it actually makes them understand the importance of unwinding their complicated negative feelings and not letting them fog their potential.
You should definitely read a handbook if you think you need to have that balance that emotional sobriety talks of.
If you think you are anywhere close to going to the toxic end of life. If you relate to going on the path of addiction, you often feel the lows of life getting to you. Then, you should reach out to your pain, as mentioned many times in this article, and read this book to understand how to rewire yourself out of misery.
It will help you feel good and neutral about life, which helps you be the master of your life and not your emotions.
It lets you take the baby steps you need to walk on the path of healing. So, you should treat yourself for every little achievement along the way to attaining sobriety.
What happens when one attains sobriety?
Although, once you achieve complete balance over your feelings, it does not mean you will always be happy and joyous and that having control over your emotions is a very happening thing. But, the good news is that it just makes you feel good about yourself and about everything else that you would earlier frown or sulk over.
The book is a well-written guide to stop one from becoming an addict to self-destructive ways. It is one of the best self-help books that aid one in managing their painful feelings and healthily getting over their hurting past without turning towards addictive substances and supports in establishing resilience.
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