All feelings are okay, but not all behaviors are. This is the basic guiding principle for our emotional lives. “Emotional fluency” is the ability to be in touch with whatever we are feeling inside and able to communicate those sensations to ourselves—and others—in ways that are life enhancing rather than destructive.
We develop this capacity for emotional fluency gradually, starting in childhood, as we learn to identify and name certain bodily sensations. We then expand the vocabulary we use to express the continuum of each core feeling. Using “I” statements, followed by a feeling word, helps us refine our ability to take responsibility and make these internal sensations our own. I feel scared when I see you drinking so much. I feel upset and angry with myself when I mess up.
Mood storms teach us about the ever-changing tempestuous nature of our emotional life. We all go through times when our emotions seem to have us in their grasp, more than we are having them. Through all these developmental phases, we learn to experience, recognize, name, and then express our internal experience to others. Addictions commonly interrupt this growth and tend to leave us with less mature skills in identifying and revealing our inner states. Sobriety allows us reclaim what we have been missing.
Whatever I am feeling is valid; how I choose to express it needs healthy boundaries.