"I'm uncomfortable being a human being," says Amber Valletta, supermodel, actress and fashion icon, in this inspiring MindBodyGreen video about living with her addiction every day.
I recently saw Amber at a fundraising event in Beverly Hills where she was hosting, and was amazed at her beauty, grace and humanity. As a Highly Sensitive Person, writer and entrepreneur who specializes in helping others manage their painful emotions, I've heard Amber's words, "the world is painful... full of suffering," echoed from hundreds of readers and clients.
Whether you're an addict or not, if you suffer from deep, painful emotions, Amber's experience can help you manage your pain without disconnecting from it.
We no longer live in a world isolated from others. We're tuned in 24/7 with our cell phones, devices and smart TV's. We're overstimulated, overwhelmed and overloaded by not only our own feelings, but those of others around us. This constant bombardment often leads us to disconnect because it's just too overwhelming.
Here are five things Amber Valletta does that can also help you if you're suffocating in deep, painful emotion.
1. Seek help.
Sometimes our pain is simply too much to go through alone yet we feel as though we are the only person in the world struggling. Help exists in the form of empathetic friends, experts and therapists who understand the pain of deep emotions, and support groups and communities that can lift you up when you're down. Instead of keeping it to yourself and exacerbating the shame, talk to someone, even if it's getting on your knees and praying. Amber's teary confession that she couldn't do it alone bespoke of a humility, strength and determination in her to get better, and it was her first step in managing her loneliness, heartache and confusion, and overcoming her addiction.
2. Help others.
Amber says she became "willing to go out and help other people recover." Personally, I've found that serving others is the magic elixir to having a richer, fuller and happier life. Once I shifted from a "how can I help myself" mindset to a "how can I help you" perspective, my life changed and I finally became the person I always wanted to be but didn't know how because I was too absorbed in my own suffering. When you pull yourself out of your own problems and pain long enough to help someone else, you often discover your own spiritual compass that guides you toward service and true fulfillment.
3. Pause in your discomfort.
In a moment of discomfort or pain, instead of reaching for something external to numb yourself out, pause for a moment, take a deep breath and reach inward. Amber continually turns inward and searches within herself to find what she needs to do "to be a better person." If you don't have a healthy method of coping with your feelings, your immediate reaction as a self-protective mechanism is to get rid of it, push it down or numb it out. Getting through that initial sting of pain by pausing instead of unconsciously reacting sets you up for a more mindful, healthier and empowering habit toward overcoming deep, painful emotions.
4. Aim for a little more self-love, compassion & kindness.
In her talk, Amber says when she paused in her discomfort, she started to learn "what it means to live life on life's terms and instead of trying to get out of my feelings, trying to have a little more self-love, a little more compassion, a little more kindness for myself and for you so that I can sit still in the moment and not try to find something to get me out of myself, to get out of the feeling." We often judge ourselves harshly for feeling hurt. We feel weak, broken, unable to "get it right" and flawed. And then we judge ourselves for judging ourselves and we end up feeling worse because of our judgements. It may not be feasible to instantly go from self-loathing to self-love, but if you aim for just a little more self-love, compassion and kindness, it's enough to carry you through the moment and softens your pain.
5. Dive into the dark places in order to grow.
The mystic poet Rumi says, "the wound is the place where the Light enters you." In my work, I've found that the best way to transcend your pain is to go through it. Your painful, dark places are there for a reason, and it's not to punish you or cause more suffering. Ironically, it's actually there to lead you to love, growth and freedom. Amber says it best: "When I dive into the dark places in myself that scare me or I feel ugly about, that is where the real growth comes. From pausing, from being willing to look within. From opening it up and turning it all inside out and asking you for help and showing you my underbelly. That is where real growth comes. That's where my empathy comes for you, another human being. So what actually appears to be dark and scary, might actually be full of life."
Following these five practices daily can get you started on a healing journey of emotional recovery. You can get 7 more actionable grounding techniques to use today to help manage your painful emotions by clicking here (free).
To learn more about Amber, you can visit her site here.
Tree Franklyn is the author of The Ultimate Emotional Survival Guide for Empaths and Highly Sensitive Women Who Feel Deeply. Get her free guide here.
Need help with substance abuse or mental health issues? In the U.S., call 800-662-HELP (4357) for the SAMHSA National Helpline.