What is Emotional Sobriety?

I heard the term emotional sobriety a lot when I was new, and recently it was a topic at my home group. It was actually very helpful for me, because at the time I was wondering why I had such an incredibly hard time with my feelings of entitlement, jealousy, and judgment in particular.

I thought I must have been doing something wrong, or not doing something at all that was making me feel that way. But the reality was, I was being completely normal.

What is emotional sobriety?


For me, I now have the understanding that emotional sobriety is more about the actual ability to feel my feelings and less about figuring out why I am feeling “good” or “bad”. I used to think that if I wasn’t feeling “happy, joyous and free” then I was doing the program incorrectly. But really, it was more about how I was feeling in the present moment. How am I feeling right now? And what about now? Am I present for all of my feelings and not letting them affect my actions?

A lot of what emotional sobriety is for me is the ability to tolerate what it is I am feeling. It’s about the ability I now have to stay sober and not make a bad choice despite what I am currently feeling. It means that I no longer blame my program or myself just because life happens to be challenging at the present moment. It means I have the ability to take action, whether it is prayer, meditation, or simply a conversation with another alcoholic in order to better understand why I am feeling that way rather than beating myself up for it.

Walking through emotions, not avoiding them


The notion I first had of ‘emotional sobriety’ was that at some point into my time being sober I would ride cloud nine; that emotions and feelings would come easy for me and leave just as easy. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Emotional sobriety, for me, is how I deal with feelings, not how I manage to avoid or not have them. I realized that all of those things that I were feeling were completely normal but that I was dealing with them appropriately despite emotions they evoked in me.

What does emotional sobriety look like for you?


  • Willy McCabe
    Posted at 06:41h, 04 August Reply

    For me emotinal sobriety is learning to temper the extreme mood swings that can accompany intense emotions and not allowing them to send me into a tail spin when they occur. Realizing that everyone experiences pain and hurt and giref and loss at times in their lives and that I’m not unique. Trusting that for me, like everyone else, these emotions will pass. I could never veiw these feelings like that while in active addiciton.

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