Why do we want to change how we feel about ourselves? Are our feelings pleasant or unpleasant? If our feelings are unpleasant, we drink, eat or take a pill to change them. Or, if we are having pleasant feelings, we want to feel even better- so we drink, eat or take a pill. It’s not enough. I am not enough. I don’t like how I feel and I’ll do anything to feel better even if it’s harmful to me. Deep inside, I don’t care about myself. I am not enough. Like an unhealthy donut, I have a giant hole that I’m trying to fill. I am unaware of my emotions and feelings. I don’t understand them.
When I was in my early twenties, I was feeling immense shame, sadness and inadequacy. I was confused about my emotions. I began drinking and snorting cocaine to change how I felt about myself. All those unpleasant feelings vanished when I was drunk or high. I felt comfortable, whole, perfect and powerful. No inhibitions, no fears. I loved that feeling and I did not want to stop feeling that way. I did not want to feel pain or the problems of my life so I avoided discomfort by being high. But the high inevitably turned into a low.
When the high was over, I crashed… becoming depressed and filled with more unpleasant emotions. I needed more cocaine. I overspent, under-worked… always chasing the high. I needed to consume more and more of it and for longer periods. I needed to stay high, feel powerful… I did so much cocaine to feel this, that I would go into respiratory arrest and quit breathing. Then another crash… I could not stop. I risked my life many times to feel high.
My shame, debts, painful feelings of inadequacy and anxiety compounded… My relationships were in jeopardy, I was feeling confused, hopeless, despair… I give up. How did it get this far? I am searching for a bottom of a bottomless pit. Help! I call a treatment center… I go… and in there, as I struggle to grasp what happened to me, I have a moment. A shift in my consciousness, a moment of hope. I feel I can recover.
I can finally find myself and feel good. How can I feel that power I felt when high with no substances or dependency?
I have been off substances for over 33 years. However, I have been dependent on money, smoking and love- anything,not to feel those unpleasant feelings. So how do I change those feelings… how do I become emotionally mature?
This begins with self-discovery and awareness. I had to become my authentic self. We all lie about how we feel. When someone asks, “How are you?” Most people respond, “I am good,” even if we aren’t. As I begin to self-examine my internal beliefs about myself, I realize a significant point. I was raised to deny my feelings. I have stuffed them inside of me. Highly sensitive, I cried. I was told to stop crying. When I was angry, I was told to be happy. When I was super excited, I was told to calm down. And when I did something wrong, I was told shame on you! Parents, teachers, everyone around me as a child was telling me to deny my feelings, and if I did something wrong- here are some unpleasant feelings to top off your guilt and shame.
Here are eight emotional states:
• Love – affection, care, compassion, fondness, attraction
• Joy – enthusiasm, excitement, thrill, happiness
• Surprise – Can be pleasant or unpleasant, amazement, astonishment, or irritation and aggravation
• Anger – rage, upset, resentful, mad
• Sadness – grief, disappointment, loss
• Fear – apprehension, anxiety, nervousness, unease
• Shame – unworthy, regret, guilt, remorse
• Trust – belief, faith, honesty
There are multitudes of feelings based on these emotions. I embarked on my elementary education of emotions. Why do I feel this way? What caused my unpleasant feelings? How do I heal them?
Becoming self-aware… I feel unworthy because I was teased and bullied. This caused low self-worth, sadness, anger and shame. I healed this by being aware that I am not worthless, and I am good… I am not bad even when others say I am. I started understanding my unpleasant feelings and why they were inside of me. One by one, I plucked them out and replaced them with the truthful feelings.
I was pained and full of shame, so I escaped reality by creating a fantasy world in my head. In my fantasy world, I felt worthy, happy and fulfilled. Ah, just like escaping my unpleasant feelings with drugs and alcohol!
By understanding my beliefs about myself, I realized my strengths, weaknesses and talents. I came to honor my sensitivity as strength. I began to care about myself. I began to like myself and then love myself. I realized inside of me was a power… that I could use that power to express myself in work, relationships and life. I began to really feel good. I wasn’t afraid to express my feelings. I became transparent and the shame began to be replaced with self-confidence.
Today, I ask myself many times each day, “How am I feeling? What am I feeling? Why am I feeling this way?” I don’t need to react to my feelings. For example, if I am angry, I don’t need to snap. I can express my upset feelings appropriately and not deny it. Every day I feel a variation of emotions. Like a song, poem or scene of a movie, I can observe my feelings. I have come to love feelings.
I connect with my authentic self… artistic, sensitive, curious, compassionate, an explorer of life, a capacity for love and adventure… I no longer need to escape my feelings by using substances, people and fantasy to feel power. I have power in my life by connecting to my emotions and realizing their beauty. I have discovered my beauty by accepting my scars and healing my shame.
Above all else, I live in the moment. There is no need to feel the past or create an artificial feeling of the future. The now is a beautiful moment to experience, no matter what I am feeling.
Scott is a veteran film and TV writer/producer who has adapted
many books for the big screen and currently has a few books in
pre-production for adaptations. Scott recently completed a groundbreaking
ten episode series for NETFLIX titled FIRE CHASERS,
which will give audiences an unprecedented look deep inside
California wildfires. He also recently produced JANE GOT A GUN,
starring Natalie Portman, THE LINCOLN LAWYER, LOVE IN THE
TIME OF CHOLERA, CHEF, starring Jon Favreau, the Golden
Globe winning EMPIRE FALLS and top-rated TV show LAS VEGAS.
Aside from this, Scott has been in recovery for over 30 years
and has been helping people in Hollywood ever since. During this
time he’s learned a lot about what works and what doesn’t work in
addiction and recovery. He has now put together a team of the top
scientists, doctors and therapists in the field of addiction and recovery
to transform the programs that have been used for decades in
order to produce new and better results to help people.