Emotional Recovery Module 3
Walking in the Light
Stop and Think
It is hard to stop and think. Our negative side, I believe, encourages us to keep doing what we are doing; don't think about the consequences; just do what you need to do to feel better right now. Our most important resource is our mind. We do have the power to change our thinking. But it takes practice, rehearsal, commitment, and assistance from others.
The stop and think process is a new tool to control our impulses and the dark secrets. This negative side will try to get you to function in the automatic mode: just reach for that extra cookie; it's okay to blow up; there is no hope; don't worry about tomorrow; do what you want right now--stay in bed all day. Now, if you are willing, let's learn how to empower ourselves--the positive side, by slowing things down before we act.
There are three parts to the stop and think system. First, start taking a deep breath, several if you wish, when you are triggered or challenged to engage in automatic and harmful activity. The deep breathing slows you down enough to give you the opportunity to think about what you are really doing to yourself.
Second, practice saying a mantra to further slow down the emotional part of your brain; this gives your cognitive brain more time to present better choices to you. The good news is that you can use any mantra or series of affirmations that you want. The important thing is to say something that contains positive thoughts and feeling statements over and over; keep it up until you gain Faith in your ability to resist the negative urges, and you become more convinced about your innate power to choose a healthier path.
There are four basic affirmations that are extremely powerful, which can assist you on your search for an effective mantra:
#1. I refuse to hurt myself anymore with excessive behaviors, negative thoughts or feelings.
#2. I deserve to have a better life today.
#3. I have unconditional worth and value.
#4. I walk in the light of powerful and effective knowledge.
Now, what do you think it means to refuse to hurt yourself? This requires honesty and openness. For example, overspending can be destructive to us in many ways, right? The same can be said for overworking, obsessive/compulsive thoughts, overeating, addictions, excessive sex, rage, anxiety and depression.
So take the deep breath, several are better, and start saying that you are not going to hurt or beat yourself anymore with excessive behaviors, thoughts, and feelings.
Let us turn to the second statement of our mantra: I deserve to have a better life. Remember that this is the new value system we talked about under the emotional recovery goal to be more open. Do you honestly believe you deserve better? Than start acting in such a way to treat yourself better.
This requires that you put limits on your excesses, negative thoughts, and emotions. I know it takes time and practice. Just start with saying these affirmations over and over. Or find your own positive statement that you believe is helpful too.
Where do you stand with the idea that you have unconditional worth and value? Our culture and even many of our past experiences suggest to us that we must seek approval from others, and we must accumulate lots of material things to be happy.
I believe we need to start appreciating more that we have intrinsic worth just because we are alive today. Each human being is special and unique. We all have unlimited potential and possibilities. Start finding ways to believe more in your talents and abilities, rather then beating yourself up with your failures, mistakes, or lack of material possessions.
The last statement of our mantra emphasizes the importance of having more faith in that which is positive rather than resigning to the negative. So what does it mean to you to walk in the Light? Of course it is a heart felt awareness that we can be guided by new ideas and reasonable solutions. But walking in the Light can be much more than intellectual knowledge.
For me, walking in the Light is all about Faith in something higher and stronger than ourselves. This refers to the power of our spirituality. We will talk more about positive power in the last module on emotional recovery. For now, I am encouraging you to find some source of hope that lets you feel protected, comforted, and grateful to be alive.
When you find your Higher power, then you will realize that your negative side doesn't have any ultimate control over you; it is all smoke and mirrors; illusions; mind games; tricks. For example, when you walk into a dark room and turn on the light, what happens to the darkness? That's right, it goes away. So what is more powerful: the light or darkness?
When you are tempted by the urges and cravings to return to the old ways and unhealthy habits, turn on the Light inside. Begin today. Just say the above four statements of the mantra over and over. Now you are ready for the last part of our stop and think process.
Taking deep breaths, slowing down with a mantra are helpful, but not enough to bring about significant changes in one's life. After you slow down long enough to anticipate the harmful actions of your old habits, reach out and talk to a positive person. We need to get support from others before we can make permanent changes.
Left to our own resources, the negative side will take us back to the low road of living. Let us walk the high road. To do that, we need caring, non-judgmental, supportive, and wise people in our lives.
Who can you reach out to for more support today? Find that person or turn to your Higher Power for help. When you do, you will have just learned how to apply our stop and think process. How does that sound?
Before we move on to the next step about emotional recovery, I want to provide you with a hand-out summary of the stop and think process. I have been giving this sheet to my clients for many years now. They report it is very helpful. Hope it will benefit you too.
Primary focus: To be Honest means to accept that you will refuse to hurt yourself no matter what happens in your life.
To be Open means a willingness to believe in a new value system: I deserve to have a better life today.
Step #1. Stop and Think has three parts.
A. Start taking a deep breath when you are tempted or triggered to go back to the "old ways" of living.
B. Slow your mind further down by repeating this mantra:
1. I refuse to hurt myself anymore with excessive behaviors, negative thoughts or feelings.
2. I deserve to have a better life today.
3. My life has unconditional worth and value.
4. I walk in the light of powerful and effective knowledge
C. Most important third part under Stop and Think: Talk to a positive person before you decide to dance with the negative side.
D. Practice these skills over and over until you are able to make better choices.