We hear it said many different ways in our recovery programs. "Sit still and feel" was the injunction to slow down and allow ourselves to experience the full weight of our inner lives.
But even in later recovery this is a tough task. We are still afraid of what we might have to feel.
Isn't that what so many of our addictions were about? We all had so many ways to mask feelings: alcohol, drugs, numbing out with food, working and worrying about others, all kinds of codependency and yes, even cutting or using sex.
In the New York Times yesterday I read a great article that shows that we are not alone. The article highlights research on this topic showing how people--all kinds of people not just addicts--use busyness and other painful distractions to avoid negative thoughts and feelings.
The study found that people struggled if they had to be alone with their thoughts for just 6 to fifteen minutes, and in one of the experiments 64% of the participants gave themselves electric shocks when left alone to think. We might think that's extreme until we remember that we gave ourselves (maybe still give ourselves) shocks of food, work, worry or tiredness to avoid thinking or feeling.
My former sponsor says it best in this succinct way: "Feelings can't hit a moving target."
The full article from the New York Times is in the link below. Do take a look and then take a few minutes to really think about your life.