One of the crucial steps to handling emotions that we bottle up is first developing awareness that we are even doing it.
During my last semester of college, I went to an in-patient psychiatric hospital for a couple of weeks. During my time there, I was put into an AODA group….which stands for Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse. It did absolutely nothing for me. I was not a drug user, I never touched them. I was a drinker because I was in college and that is what everyone did. Yes, my drinking and partying got more frequent but that was not my problem.
I find the phrase “bottling up emotions” so fitting when I look back on this. In this case, I had been bottling up emotions for years and years and then I just drank them. I would chug as fast as I could so they wouldn’t get out. It never worked…they always got out. And they didn’t come out in a smooth pour as if you were serving a nice wine. It was more like a cork popping off the bottle and exploding everywhere.
It was a vicious cycle that unfortunately is so, so common. Our society glorifies drinking so much that people who don’t drink are looked down upon. The alcohol isn’t the problem. The drugs aren’t the problem. It’s the problems we aren’t facing. It’s the things we don’t talk about. It’s the memories we can’t shake. It’s the abuse we never acknowledged. It’s the failures we didn’t learn from. It’s the insecurities we didn’t overcome. It’s the hurt we didn’t heal. It’s the things we never did. It’s the dreams we didn’t pursue. It’s the passions we didn’t honor. It’s the love we didn’t share. These are the problems.
Simple Exercise to Handling Emotions
We will soon be gathering with family and friends for the holidays. Many will not. Many will be alone. But none will be free of their unresolved problems. Sometimes leaving the comfort of our daily lives leads to a different type of thinking and we often “uncork” what we have tried to “chug.” Take some time to focus on healthy ways to face your problems in a loving way. Look for support from those you love. Choose to be present with the people from your past, present, and future. Think about loving yourself when you think about how you choose to cope. When we are mindful of our thoughts, feelings, and actions, we don’t have to bottle up anything. We can choose to just “BE”.