I remember my first counseling and group sessions. There, prominently displayed on the wall was this thing called “The Feeling Wheel.” And, of course, just like I’d seen once in a cheesy counseling scene on TV, somewhere in the beginning of every session was that same question for me.
“Well, how are you feeling today?”
The first time I tried to respectfully answer the question. The second time I rolled my eyes. The third time, I sighed audibly. What could identifying and naming my feelings possibly do to help my situation? Wasn’t it obvious how I was feeling? I mean, how would you feel if your life was so out of control you ended up in rehab?
The problem was that over the years I had worked hard to escape from feelings — especially the negative ones. I lived for those moments in my addiction when I could get relief from the shame and sadness that surrounded my life. Admitting my feelings was absolutely the last thing I wanted to do. Feel that pain? No way.
My counselor, fortunately, was very determined. He listened carefully as I talked, pointing out feelings that were hiding behind my words. Gradually, I began to really feel again. And when I did, I discovered something truly amazing. Feelings — even the painful ones — are a gift from God.
–Melissa Haas, Emotions 101