You begin by starting. That’s right: like anything else you want to learn, you start at the beginning. The beginning here is to become aware of how you think right now. Are you someone with a defeatist attitude who strikes out without even trying? Are you so programmed by having a negative prospective that nothing seems to turn out right for you? Are you someone who sees the glass half-empty? Are you none of these, but things aren’t working for you anyway?
My clients are always asked to think about how they think. To pay attention to random thoughts and most especially to those thoughts which affect them in their decision making and the creation of their moods.
Every one of my addicted clients has agreed that we do live the effects of our thinking, but they are completely unaware that their thinking can be changed. This concept is so radical to most of them because their thinking has been hijacked so that the feeding of the addiction monster is the most compelling thought. True, the brain has lost some of its ability to resist the urges that are seemingly impossible to overcome, but the urges can be overcome—the urges have been overcome by people who have changed their thinking.
So now after you have studied your thinking, try to put one topic heading on what you have observed. Are your thoughts pessimistic, optimistic, sad, carefree, egotistical, insecure, frightened, disinterested, and depressed? This is not easy because two or three different labels could apply, so try to figure out the main feeling, the overriding sense of how you think. As an addict, you should discover you definitely want to change your thinking, that you must change your thinking. That discovery, my friend, is the first welcome step.
The second step is to stop and interrupt the unwanted thought from continuing. An interruption is the creating of a short circuit in what you had been thinking. Whoa, what just happened here? Instead of allowing your thought to continue, you exercised your ability to think of something else. You caused a distraction, and in that moment of interruption, you must think of something else. It is helpful to repeat the mantra that I ask of you, which is to silently say, while you deeply inhale, “I control me, I control me.”
However, you can put any mantra of your choosing in your mind. It has been told to me through the years that using a mantra which becomes a daily habit creates the easiest and strongest interruptions. Sometimes my clients have used a strong visualization from our sessions to occupy their minds with their new selected thinking.
How do you want to think? Answer that. Think carefully about your answer.
You can only change when you know what needs changing. The incredible power of your mind is ready for your instruction. Your brain is limitless in its ability to learn.
Believe that by changing your thinking to better ways, you will be lead to a better life because this is true. Your ability to change the way you think is critical because the addicted part of your brain’s thinking has created negative consequences for you. Remember not all of your brain is addicted.
There is documentation that a positive outlook brings benefits we are just now beginning to understand. Better health, better relationships, more satisfaction with who we are and what we are, belong to those who are positive.
Please review some of the visualizations and relaxation techniques found in previous chapters. Learning to quiet your mind is achievable and allows for instruction to take hold. Think of a time when you were interested in learning something new. Your concentration was heightened, and there were less random thoughts flowing in and out of your mind. Maybe you can recall learning to ride a bike, play an instrument, or anything else that was an instruction that you wanted.
Desire plus exposure plus practice make miraculous things happen. If you are able, get assistance from a therapist, a recovery coach, and meetings.