Sometimes my clients come to me directly from a session with their primary therapist. Almost every one of those sessions is an investigation into their past and trying to figure out where and how certain current behaviors got their start. The interesting thing is, while these therapies are critical, they are a totally different approach from what I do. My focus is on going forward regardless of the past and not necessarily even knowing anything about the past. I am quick to point out that getting the problem, whatever it might be, may not be their fault, but clearly, keeping it is. Therefore, I teach various ways to get past the past.

I do a very special visualization whereby the client can see that every step they take is a step into the future, even if the future is only one minute from now. This visualization is about a lovely walk on the beach and clearly seeing yourself walking forward one step at a time into the future while you occasionally look back and see the footprints behind you being washed away as the ocean ebbs back out. No matter what direction you choose, you walk into the future. This is not to say we have not been influenced by past events; rather, it is to say we do not have to take the past with us into the future if we choose not to. We can recognize the past, good or bad, as just that—the past. We can recognize that we have to sometimes get out of our own way and, yes, easier said than done, to move outside what we are used to doing. In treating addiction, I cannot speak too highly of the importance of positive self-talk. I ask that you pay strict attention to thought habits.

Whenever you “hear” yourself being negative or doing thought habit, silently say “Enough!” Say it silently but loudly in your head. Replace that thought with a thought of your choosing. Choose wisely, see yourself wonderfully, and remember that something inside is always listening. Let that something hear the good news. You have chosen life. A good life. See yourself healthy, strong, glowing with pride and hope. Remember, we live the effects of our thinking.

There is so much bad news about addiction, but here is some good news. You do not go forward alone. You have a guide in your sponsor, a trailblazer to help you move through some tough minefields. You have like-minded people at meetings, and you must go to meetings. There is always a hand outreached for you to take. You are not alone. Good thing too because you are in a battle. For sure, there is strength in numbers.

You should only look backward to remind yourself of the train wreck you were and the devastation you caused. Do not stay too long: just a glimpse of where you never want to be again. A reminder of who you never want to be again. Picture yourself as you wish to be. Picture yourself as you were before you were hooked. Keep a strong image, and remind yourself that you are not where you were, and you are not yet where you are going but that you are on your way! See yourself in the most positive ways you can imagine. Give your subconscious a clear view of where you are headed and what you look like, feel like, and think like.

Laboratory experiments have been done where people have had electrodes put on their heads with tiny lightbulbs attached. Then beautiful pictures are shown to the subjects. At those moments, a particular lightbulb illuminates. These same people are shown dark and ugly pictures, and then a different bulb on another electrode illuminates. All these people then go home but return several weeks later. Upon their arrival, the same electrodes are placed upon their heads, and they are told they would not see the pictures again, but instead they were asked to recall the pictures. Interestingly, the same electrode bulbs were illuminated.

So does this mean that the brain does not differentiate between the real thing and the thought of the real thing? I would certainly say yes.

So if you agree, be certain that the images you put into your head are perceived as real. See yourself in the most positive, healthy, strong way. See it night and day. Soon you will become that which you see yourself to be. You will be on your way. For real.