One of my favorite messages from the 12 Step programs is “Feelings are not Facts”. We know that addictive behaviors are driven by powerful “Feeling States” which involve not only our emotions, but most importantly our minds and physiological responses that are guided by our internal alarm system. For many of us, this alarm system has kept us on moderate to high alert status for much of our lives and we have experienced unpleasant consequences resulting from this anxiety provoking state.
We know that a hyperactive internal alarm system is the byproduct of developmental/childhood trauma and that strong feelings of anxiety or depression lead to behaviors that give the perception of safety, attachment, belonging, and control. The use of alcohol or another drug, gambling, shopping, cutting, binging and purging, is driven by emotions, and certainly NOT a product of logical thinking.
The 12 Step programs get it: That when we are governed by our feelings, we set ourselves up for relapse or we slip ourselves into another relief providing behavior.
I like this video and will be posting more of the same. She talks about our Internal Guidance System and how emotions are distinctly separate from our thoughts and how emotions drive powerful fight/flight/freeze bodily responses.
In the treatment of trauma, we first teach mindfulness skills so as to override the power of emotions that influence not only our behavior but our health as well.