I need to think about emotions and feelings.

Why? Because I think they played a role in my alcohol consumption. 

I probably need to understand that role if I want to remain a non-drinker, which I do.

It’s a big subject but here is where I’m at so far:

Emotions and feelings are my reactions to stuff. 

They are neither good nor bad.

They are super important to my survival mechanism in that they help me move towards, or away from, things that will either cause me to prosper or perish. 

They monitor safety, security, and stability.

What is the difference between emotions and feelings?

  • Emotions are instinctual. A gut thing. Lizard-brain. Sub-conscious. No mental processing is involved.
  • I have five basic emotions: Fear, anger, disgust, sadness, and joy. 
  • Feelings are my conscious experience of those emotions. They come from reflecting upon and judging my thoughts. They help me learn from my mistakes.
  • My feelings break down into a myriad of shades and degrees.

Feelings need to be ‘processed’ (paid attention to), or else trouble ensues.

The processing of feelings is as follows (Basic version):

  1. Identify/label them.
  2. Take time to consider them, without self-judgment – Only observe how I feel.
  3. Decide upon a strategy to move forward.
  • Either by looking to resolve the causal problem, if I have control, to do so.
  • Or by considering a revised approach to it.

Good feelings are easy to deal with; who doesn’t like wallowing in those?

Unpleasant feelings? Not so much! Another of my defence mechanisms, on autopilot, will want to avoid and repress anything painful.

What happens if the unpleasant feelings are not processed?

Firstly, they do not go away. Alas.

Ignored/ repressed feelings build on each other, gathering momentum and getting louder beneath the surface of consciousness until such time as they are acknowledged.

I might feel overwhelmed and stressed. I might withdraw from others and find decision-making difficult.

Ignored feelings become problems themselves as they further impact our emotional state.

I read that the following were indicators of an emotional backlog that needs processing:

  1. Acting out of character. Impatient. Snappy. Over-reacting.
  2. Over drinking!!!

So, processing!

Further to the above description of processing it isn’t always that easy. 

Maybe things have been left for a while, and they may need digging out.

There are so many methods to explore, but common to all is:

  1. Mindfulness. Recognising feelings and, feeling them without judging oneself for having them.

After this, it seems there is a menu of practices to choose from to get help releasing pent up feelings:

  • Creative expression (Writing, painting, acting, dancing etc) an indirect method.
  • Therapy (Psychodynamic, CBT, DBT, EMDR).
  • Group therapy – Making sense of problems by talking them out.
  • Self-help workbooks (My ‘go to’ so far, but I am exploring others avenues too).
  • Venting to friends.

Apparently I will know if it is working if I feel emotionally lighter, mentally clearer and physically sturdier.


Don’t dodge this.

In future, I must process as I go. Set aside regular time to think about this area (Prevention is better than cure).

Explore meditation and mindfulness practices.