Dr. Estis's Insights

Emotional Hangovers, Time to Readjust?

Page 88 of the 12/12 speaks of a tremendous hangover because one drank heavily the day before, resulting in not living well today. Within the same paragraph another type of hangover is described, an emotional hangover – the direct results of yesterdays and sometimes today’s excesses of negative emotions – anger, fear, jealousy, resentment, etc…

Emotional hangovers get in the way of life and the positive benefits. Reflecting on the subject of hangovers, do any hangovers, mental, spiritual, physical, social, volitional, and emotional get in the way of living life to the fullest. Have you asked yourself what hangovers are you still experiencing? Hangovers challenge us to reflect on how we are depleting our own lives (body, mind, and soul) through the abuse that we are doing to ourselves the day before. If we think, feel, and behave as the previous day, we are going to awake to another hangover.

The basic definition of a hangover is the unpleasant and disagreeable symptoms following heavy alcohol consumption or awakening to feeling badly after trashing one’s life after consuming large amounts of alcohol. Are you trashing your life by devouring large amounts of negative thoughts and feelings? Hangovers will result in a combination of dehydration, loss or minimization of valuable minerals and enzymes, toxicity, and overall depletions.
Do negative emotions wreak a similar havoc on one’s system? One is no longer hydrated or refreshed due to the absence of positive emotions and life experiences, valuable catalyst (minerals and enzymes) to maintain health and energy are lost, toxicity occurs and finally one experiences a sense of being totally depleted and hopeless.

To stop having hangovers one must stop creating and consuming an excess of negative emotions. The 12/12 advocates inventorying one’s life, beginning with “spot-check” approach to determine the daily ups and downs that are maintaining the imbalances and temptations which lend to mistakes. The long-standing difficulties are suggested to be postponed until a time when one has developed more self-restraint.

Suggestions for living life without hangovers, allow the past to be the past unless it could be helpful to someone else: live life in emotional moderation (seize the beauty of the day, do not attempt to shoot for the moon), create a spiritual and mental barrier or safeguard via re-hydrating or refreshing through the 12-step program fellowship, family, friends, church, hobbies, meditation, prayer, etc…, engage in restoring, replenishing, and/or replacing losses of significance. Take on a constructive activity that will give you a sense of having done something right and/or good for someone else. Do a selfless act. A repetition of the aforementioned attitudes and behaviors will affect a different outcome, serenity and contentment.

U.S. Army, Lt. Col. Mark Weber, husband, father of three, high profile job within the Afghan Parliament as military advisor, diagnosed with intestinal cancer at thirty-eight and fought a desperate battle for the next two years, had numerous opportunities to have an emotional hangover from the previous day. Regarding the emotion of anger or temper, he left the following words for his wife and sons, when I reflect on the word temper, I think of balance, moderation, and compromise – softening and hardening without being unyielding or impenetrable. There is a point, after all, when your tempered will becomes zealotry or a suicide pact, and your temperamental predominance of courage becomes reckless. Through trials and countless errors, I’ve learned that being reasonable and level-headed carries great utility in work, politics, religion, money, and love. It is striking to me despite the timeless virtue of finding common ground and practical solutions, too many people fear that such thinking will make them appear weak or lacking of conviction. All I can tell you is that has not been my experience at all. I propose to you that you’ll find answers to your questions by taking one more step beyond the place where others will tell you to stop. Be persistent and insist on just one more consideration. Give up every preconceived notion, and follow humbly wherever and to whatever deep holes nature leads. And when – not if – failure comes, you’ll be much stronger and wiser for it (Weber, 2012, Tell my Sons, pgs 126-127).

If you or someone you know is suffering from a repetition of emotional hangovers produced by chemical and/or process addictions, we would like to offer help. Please contact us at Woodlake Addiction Recovery Center. Thanks, for reading this blog and your reflections and/or comments would be most welcomed.
Thomas “Tommy” Estis, Ph.D. NCC, LPC, LPC-S, LMFT, LMFT-BAS, LAC and ACOA

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