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Understanding Emotion and Addiction

EI_chartEmotional Intelligence:  The capacity to be aware of, control, and express one’s emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically. Emotional Intelligence (EI) is the key to both personal and professional success.

A typical problem for people who fall into addiction is that they have difficulties dealing with their emotions.

This inability of a person in disease to deal with emotion makes recovery difficult. A lack of EI will drive the frustration and ultimately the addiction.  A lack of understanding or alternative ways of dealing with and thinking about emotion will diminish recovery success.

Psychologist Albert Ellis discovered that people’s beliefs strongly affected their emotional functioning. In particular certain irrational beliefs made people feel depressed, anxious or angry and led to self-destructive, self-defeating behaviors.

Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT), takes a rather unique approach to cognitive theory, suggesting that ones tendencies to let our emotions dictate our thoughts producing our own self-destructive, self-defeating behaviors.

Ellis believed that through “must – urbation” we allow our emotions to be dominated by the “must’s”: “I must be successful,” “I must be loved,” “I must have what I want.”

Ellis describes his “A-B-C” model of emotion:rebt

A: Activating event (a friend turns you down for dinner)

+B: Belief (no one likes me)

=C: Consequence (sad mood, feelings of rejection)

To change the behavior or the “consequence” or outcome of the emotion one needs to change the entire belief. To change your beliefs you need to understand the emotion and examine the thought process associated with the emotion.

You believe that:  “no one likes me” now, examine the evidence, why do you think that no one likes you? Does one person’s rejection imply that no one likes you? Does this mean that no one will ever like you? Does it mean that you must have everyone like you?

This is “musturbation.”

Use the following work sheet to evaluate and examine your emotions and beliefs.  Learn how to understand and recognize how certain situations may result in different perceptions, thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Learning the ABC model is one of the firsts steps necessary in the REBT process:

abc Model


Common Behavior Provoking Emotions:

Anger:  A strong feeling of annoyance, displeasure, or hostility. Anger is a normal and healthy human emotion.  Anger is only destructive when it disrupts actions, thoughts, and feelings that cause people to experience distress and prevent functioning in daily lives.

Anxiety: A feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome.  Some people may fell anxious for no apparent reason.  Anxiety disorders are very common.  Again, unless anxiety disrupts actions, thoughts, and feelings that cause people to experience distress and prevent functioning in daily lives it is common to have this emotional experience.

Depression:  Feelings of severe despondency and dejection.  Some people have a single episode or “bout” of depression.  Depression is a very common problem.  Depression can lead to a host of physical and emotional problems, and depression may produce feelings of sadness, loss, anger, or frustration.  Although depression may interfere with everyday life it is treatable.

Frustration:  The feeling of being upset or annoyed, especially because of inability to change or achieve something. The ability to understand the reasons why one is frustrated, allows us to remain positive, move forward, and be happy.

Grief:  Deep sorrow, especially that caused by someone’s death.  Response to grief vary.  Emotional outcomes of grief are influenced by several factors; personality, culture, values, family, and spiritual beliefs.  Emotional reactions to the loss of a loved one may include anger, guilt, extreme anxiety, and depression.

Guilt:  A bad feeling caused by knowing or thinking that you have done something bad or wrong.  Guilt can cause behavioral and personality changes.  A negative person may become positive and seek forgiveness, a positive person may become negative and withdraw.

Confidence, Lack of Confidence, and Self-Esteem:  Your degree of confidence, called self-confidence, is the trust or faith that you have in yourself and your abilities. Self esteem is the opinion you have of yourself. Realistic feelings of confidence and positive self-esteem affect how you think and act, how you feel about others, and how successful you are in life.

People who lack self-esteem are usually not confident, lack confidence, and often have a very negative view of themselves.  Feelings of worthlessness and despair make it hard for these individuals to realize that they have meaning and purpose.

Stress: A state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances.  Stress differs for every individual, what may be stressful for you may not be for someone else.   Stress causes strong feelings of worry or anxiety. Stress is your body’s way of responding to any kind of demand. It can be caused by both good and bad experiences.


Positive Outcomes of Emotional Intelligence:

Impulse Control:  Self managing the desire to act irrationally and spontaneously.  The ability to “self-manage” impulsive behavior and feelings.

Self-Awareness:  The ability to recognize and understand ones emotions and how these emotions will impact thought processes, decision making, and behavior.

Social-Awareness:  Ones ability to recognize and understand the emotions and needs of other people within his or her immediate environment.  The ability to recognize how to manage social relationships through healthy communication and interactions.

Recognizing emotions and dealing with the internal conflict that emotions may cause. By assessing past behaviors and triggers one can begin to overcome the obstacles and challenges that may present on the road to recovery.


References:
Ellis, A, (2001) Overcoming Destructive Beliefs, Feelings, and Behaviors: New Directions for Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy

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