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This topic is adapted from the Change My Relationship YouTube channel.

As crazy as it sounds we can get actually get drunk emotionally in our relationships from the toxicity and emotional reactivity to what is going on.  If you have ever gone through an intensely  emotional experience like a bad argument, breakup, intervention, crisis, an ultimatum, abuse, addictions, chronic problems, you know that you can actually have an emotional hangover. You can become completely exhausted, spiritually, emotionally and physically. Yet, the Bible directs us to stand firm and to live in a wise manner.  We are specifically not to be drunk but to be filled with the spirit.

I Peter 5:8 Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith.

Ephesians 5:15-18  Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.

Loss of Emotional Sobriety

When we get entangled with another person’s difficult behavior we can become obsessed, panicked, desperate, controlling, dependent, angry, pushy, needy and reactive. This is when we lose our emotional sobriety. Our thinking becomes unclear, our emotions will be intense and our actions unsound. There are a number of things we will do when we lose our emotional sobriety. We will blur our boundaries and do things that are not in our best interest, we convince ourselves to stay longer in a relationship than we should, we allow behavior to continue in a relationship that we know is not acceptable. We will push others to do what we want them to do and what they don’t want to do. We will lose our focus and forget to live our own lives. We will act in ways that cause us to feel shameful and unacceptable to ourselves. We will overreact to small things and underreact to big things. We will lie, cover up excuse and rationalize. We will try to reason with unreasonable people and make choices that are driven by fear.

Being Emotionally Sober

In contrast, when we are being emotionalally sober we will do some other things. We will see the whole truth, our own part and the part of others. We will think clearly and act in a way that is reasonable, right and healthy. Emotional sobriety means that you are not being controlled by your emotional reaction to circumstances. You feel your emotions but don’t allow them to dictate your reactions. It allows you to live your life in the midst of imperfect people and relationships and stay detached.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Watch the video together or invite someone to summarize the topic.
  2. What is your initial reaction to this video? Do you disagree with any of it? What jumped out at you?
  3. Compare being out of control emotionally with being drunk with alcohol.
  4. Could you identify with any of the specific behaviors listed here that describe a person who lacks emotional sobriety. Explain.
  5. Are you in a relationship currently where you find it difficult to maintain emotional sobriety?
  6. What keeps you attached to that relationship?
  7. Can you think of some times that you made a choice to experience your emotions but not be controlled by them? Describe that situation and the outcome.
  8. Read Ephesians 5:15-18 Comment on the direction to be filled with the Spirit. How do you think this could impact your ability to stay sober emotionally?
  9. Write a personal action step based on this conversation.

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