Emotional Recovery Module 4
Triggers or red flags influence one to engage in negative and self-harmful habits. Have you asked yourself why it is so difficult to make healthy changes in my life? Part of the answer involves the negative side rationalizing or justifying a quick way to meet five basic human needs that we will discuss in a few minutes.
In general there are two basic types of triggers: external and internal. External temptations include other people, places, and things that influence us to make bad choices. For example, you are trying to diet, and your spouse brings home a gallon of ice cream.
Or, you are trying to watch your spending, but you find a number of appealing mail order catalogs included in your junk mail today. When you are in these situations, try to apply the stop and think process.
Internal triggers are a little more complicated. I have learned over the years that negative habits actually give us a pay-off or they try to meet normal human needs. The first one is pleasure.
Let’s face it, we enjoy smoking, sweets, drugs, alcohol, sex, productive work, gambling, sleeping, and a good argument. I also submit to you that a part of us (the dark secret) perversely enjoys obsessive thinking, anger, depression, anxiety, and shame. In other words, these emotions provide us with some sort of mood altering experience that we hold on to out of comfort and familiarity.
All of these behaviors can get out of control. To avoid excess, I suggest we cultivate healthier ways to enjoy life; i.e., exercise, music, reading, hobbies, art, nature, intimate relationships, education, volunteer activity, moderation, control, and balance. Or how about hot baths, massage, drinking tea, watching fountains, gardening, aroma therapy, and religion?
Granted, it is not easy to find positive alternatives to ingrained, compulsive and addictive behaviors. That’s were practice, rehearsal, and seeking assistance from others comes in. If you find yourself stuck on this, apply our stop and think process.
The second internal trigger is escape. The old ways of living apparently help us forget our problems for a while. Your challenge is to find positive ways to escape. So how might you do that? Well we know about watching TV, DVDs and going to the movies.
How about discovering some of your own creative talents and abilities? Do them with passion and gusto. Also cultivate the skill of taking mental time-outs during various periods of your day.
The third internal trigger is relaxation. This is similar to the need for escape. To be more exact, relaxation suggests we need to find positive means to unwind as we get ready for our day and at the end of the day. Do any new ideas come to mind? How about a quiet and daily routine of study, keeping a journal, prayer and meditation?
The fourth trigger, causing people a lot of problems daily, involves our need for relationships. Some people feel lonely, bored, isolated, and unhappy; they seek relief from old habits that appear to alter mood or self-medicate for unhappiness and internal tensions.
The antidote to this is to strive to first self-nurture by having a more caring, kinder, gentler relationship with yourself; then seek out positive and healthy relationships with others.
The last but most important trigger or hook to returning to the “old ways” of living is stress management. As you know, life is not perfect; things will and do go wrong. When we get upset, overwhelmed, rejected, or burned-out, we seek fast, easy relief. This is a very normal and human reaction.
A burst of anger, for example, seems to feel good for a while. Depression slows us down and enables us to zone out and drop out. Fear provokes us to avoid, procrastinate, and run away. Anxiety increases agitation and puts into motion a form of emotional paralysis. Guilt encourages us to beat-up on ourselves; then we are at risk to turn to methods of apparent comfort by self-destructive habits and addictions.
Solutions to the problems of stress management require new coping skills. Don’t forget the stop and think process. Seek help from positive people. Don’t hesitate to contact professional helpers either like doctors, nurses, spiritual mentors, sponsors, counselors, and life coaches.
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