Emotional Sobriety: I was in love with rescuing people but I wasn’t in love with myself.

If you’ve been following me for a while, you already know that I’m a firm believer in emotional sobriety. For me, learning about emotional sobriety was one of the most pivotal points in my healing and in my recovery.  Like many, I thought if I was no longer getting high, then I was doing just peachy. Boy was I wrong. I was in love with rescuing people but I wasn’t in love with myself.


It wasn’t until I was well into my recovery before my latest (and bestest) sponsor talked to me about emotional sobriety. With her help, I was able to understand how important it was that I find balance and peace within me. I learned how to walk into a room and not assume people were judging me. I discovered that I didn’t need other people to make me feel fulfilled or validated. I was all I needed and when I began turning my attention inward, that’s when the really cool part of emotional sobriety set in. I felt worthy. I felt strong. I felt like a rock star…even on the days when the poop hit the fan. I was able to move through the shit storm and not come out feeling like crap.

Recently, I was talking to someone familiar with the 12-steps and they hadn’t heard about emotional sobriety either.  I confess it was good to know I wasn’t the only addict out there who didn’t know it existed. I shared Tom B’s lecture with them.

Here are some of the questions Tom asks the crowd (taken in part from the transcript):

“Question: yes or no: Do you accept criticism well? Are you usually hurt or angered by criticism? Do you have a difficult time accepting compliments? Do others think more highly of you than you do of yourself? Do you depend on others to make you feel good about yourself? Anybody flunkin’ yet?


Does what other say about you unduly influence your feelings and beliefs about yourself? Do you often do a good job and know it, but don’t feel good about it?
Do you often feel like a loser – even though you know you’re a good person? Do you often put yourself down? Looking honestly at your life, do you treat yourself very well? Do you treat others better than you treat yourself? Do you do nice things for others in order to get attention or compliments? When you express love for someone are you hurt when he or she doesn’t respond in kind? Do you often feel afraid, even though you know everything’s okay? Do you often feel you’re not enough? Do you often feel you’re falling short of what you should be and what you should do? Does it bother you a great deal when you know that someone dislikes or disapproves of you? Do you kiss ass to make ‘em like you? (That wasn’t one of the questions, by the way.) Do you often refrain from doing or saying what you know you should for fear of how other may react to it? Do your feelings depend on how your significant other is treating you? Do you feel you’re a good person no matter what others may think?”

After I sent my friend the link to Tom B.’s emotional sobriety talk I listened to it for the umpteenth time. This time around, I was finally able to answer most of Tom’s questions with a resounding, “No!” How about you?