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Triggers and Cravings

Negative Emotions Can Be Your Superpower

February 13, 2023
8 min read
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Written by
Reframe Content Team
A team of researchers and psychologists who specialize in behavioral health and neuroscience. This group collaborates to produce insightful and evidence-based content.
February 13, 2023
8 min read
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Certified recovery coach specialized in helping everyone redefine their relationship with alcohol. His approach in coaching focuses on habit formation and addressing the stress in our lives.
February 13, 2023
8 min read
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Recognized by Fortune and Fast Company as a top innovator shaping the future of health and known for his pivotal role in helping individuals change their relationship with alcohol.
February 13, 2023
8 min read
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Reframe Content Team
February 13, 2023
8 min read

Sometimes, a drink is not just a drink. It is an escape from uncomfortable emotions. We don’t have to run from negative emotions; they can be our superpower when harnessed correctly. Many of us are not taught to sit with negative emotions, such as anger and fear. Such emotions are mostly misunderstood, which makes it a challenge to process them.

Negative emotions should not be seen as the opposite of positive emotions. If we were happy all the time, we wouldn’t be humans; we would be game show hosts. Negative emotions are essential and valid. These harder-to-feel feelings can actually become your new best friends instead of your drinking buddies.

We can begin to embrace these emotions by naming them to understand their intensity. This can help validate our experiences and regulate those emotions. There’s never a need to run away from or suppress negative emotions. All of our emotions are valuable and can be helpful to us.

Emotions go beyond our basic senses of touch, taste, smell, vision, and hearing. Feelings can be our sixth sense. They provide data that goes beyond our physical senses and let us know where our minds and hearts are.

Some of our family members may have been well-intentioned when they treated emotions as something we could get over. They may have labeled our emotions as moping and blamed us for feeling a particular way.

As adults, we may have been warned to keep emotions out of our jobs and in the back corners of our personal lives. It doesn’t help that social media has made it a virtue to not give a hoot about anything.

Clearing ourselves of all our emotions isn’t possible. Humans are made to feel a spectrum of emotions. Caring doesn’t demonstrate weakness; it shows we are strong for allowing ourselves to be vulnerable.

Negative emotions are valid and valuable

We don’t need to justify negative emotions. They can be expressed, not explained. Just like flowers don’t need to justify their existence, emotions are sensations that go beyond our basic senses. Feelings tell the stories of our lives. If anyone has ever made you feel like your feelings aren’t valid, see them as a hurt person trying to hurt others. They cannot control you any longer.  

There is a difference between emotions and behaviors. We can be enraged and not throw a tantrum. Emotions are signals that something feels good or bad in varying degrees.

Everyone has emotions. If we think of emotions as sources of information, we can feel more comfortable around others. Our emotional radar can

pick up combinations of hesistation, curiosity, annoyance, mistrust, excitement, compassion, sadness, and hope.

Instead of trying to get rid of emotions, we can learn how to process them. As we feel chest tightness, chills down our spine, butterflies in our stomach and waves of nausea, it just means we are processing emotions.

If a drink starts calling you, open up your journal and write down your emotions. They don’t have to be big emotions like happiness or anger. Let smaller emotions be expressed for more balance in your life.

Although emotions are fleeting, they are still valid. If we choose to see them as sources of information, we can slowly build our confidence as we trust in our senses. Let your emotions breathe and give them names to honor them.

Emotions never need to be justified. They exist because we are human. By just naming them, we can empower ourselves and build confidence in our emotions. However, many people are still uncomfortable with negative emotions.

Radical emotional acceptance

Avoidance of negative emotions leads to poor decision making, like staying up late to drink or taking liquid lunches. Negative emotions aren’t an unfortunate part of life we just have to tolerate to get to the good emotions. Radical emotional acceptance means understanding no emotion is bad.

The wake-up call

All emotions are good. They provide stellar information, even if some of them can be  deeply unpleasant. If we start thinking of emotions as our best friends instead of unwanted guests, we can become more balanced and make clearer decisions. Negative emotions can wake us up.

If we experience the loss of a job, our emotions let us know it was important to us and we can begin grieving. We can come out the other end free of suppressed emotions that could’ve led to knee-jerk decisions about our future and our drinking.

Emotions let us know what we desire. This could be financial freedom, companionship and self-worth. We can transmute negative emotions into motivation to fill our emotional needs that may be lacking.

Instead of taking the approach of ‘I don’t care’ when a co-worker or boss annoys us, we can move away from this form of gaslighting. We can acknowledge our annoyance and name it. Maybe it is telling us that it is time to look for other workplaces. Emotions are our compass for the future in all areas of our life.

Taking a step back to examine our emotions helps us better understand ourselves and the world around us. It allows us to make more informed decisions and gives us access to the inner wisdom of our emotions. If you’re looking for a healthier relationship with alcohol, Reframe might be just what you need.

Reframe is an app that helps users change their alcohol habits for the better. It was created through collaboration between mental health experts and medical professionals and utilizes impressive neuroscience-based behavior modification techniques. What sets Reframe apart from other apps is its extensive set of tools and supportive network of knowledgeable people. With an eye toward evidence-based techniques, this comprehensive program is sure to help you take control of your drinking habits for good.

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At Reframe, we do science, not stigma. We base our articles on the latest peer-reviewed research in psychology, neuroscience, and behavioral science. We follow the Reframe Content Creation Guidelines, to ensure that we share accurate and actionable information with our readers. This aids them in making informed decisions on their wellness journey.
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