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The Calm Center

Prior to recovery, my life was one of extremes. Particularly in regards to my feelings.

Three primary feelings drove my thoughts, actions, and relationships: sad, mad, and glad. These three feelings controlled my life. They ruled me. I had no idea I could control my response to these feelings. I constantly fluctuated between them, often cycling through one to the other or all three in a few minutes. At one point, my therapist diagnosed me as bipolar.

However, as my recovery progressed, and I grew emotionally, I discovered I had a choice regarding my response to my basic, primal feelings. I learned my responsibility in controlling how I handled these feelings. Believe it or not, in 33 years I had never learned that I am not my feelings!

Now, my feelings no longer control me. I also learned how to feel the broad spectrum of feelings between sad/mad and glad. There are many subtle variations and layers of feelings between these extremes, of which I was completely unaware.

Most importantly, between these extreme feelings, or perhaps, apart from them, I discovered a perfect center point of absolute stillness. Serenity is at the calm center of the storm. Serenity is the choice I make about how I choose to respond (not react) to my feelings.

Serenity is feeling all my feelings with the full awareness and realization I don't have to act upon them; I don't have to act them out; I don't have to judge them. I merely acknowledge my feelings, identify them, calmly accept them, observe the situation that is producing them, and then decide, consciously, whether a response is warranted.

When my feelings ruled me, my life was miserable. Once I began the practice of responding to my feelings, my life filled with serenity. The good stuff started happening.

The key to the balance of power between my head and my heart was in my possession all along, but I didn't know it. Emotional maturity was not in my educational curriculum. By giving away this power, by being unaware of it, I created untold misery in my life and in the lives of others.

Am I always living from the calm center? No. Sometimes my feelings still take over. (In fact, I am learning there are times when it is OK for my feelings to be in control.) Sometimes I still over-react. Sometimes I am still paralyzed by fear (a variation of mad). Sometimes I allow people to push my buttons and I react too quickly. But at least now I recognize the process, whether I always use it or not. I am learning how to use this process—I haven't perfected it yet.


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Every day is a new lesson. Every situation adds to my repertoire of healthy recovery behaviors. Awareness of the process is a goal of recovery, and now I am gratefully aware of how to live cooperatively with my feelings and consciously maintain the balance of peace and serenity my life deserves.

next: What is Co-Dependence?

APA Reference
Staff, H. (2008, November 2). The Calm Center, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2020, December 3 from https://www.healthyplace.com/relationships/serendipity/calm-center

Last Updated: August 8, 2014

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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