At the bottom of every blog in this series of Life Experience Chain, you have read about choices. When you were young, you were “programmed” a certain way. You had no choice; you were a child. However, now you are an adult and you can change the programme. You can override your old programming with each choice you make today. The gift of the human mind is conscious choice. If you tell your mind
WHAT TO DO
it will do everything it can to make that happen. Your mind will automatically move toward your currently dominant thought every minute, every day. The more attention you give something, the more powerful and important it becomes. Every day that passes, you make a thousand little choices and each of them counts.
Do you want your old programmes (rules, messages, beliefs, thoughts, feelings) to continue to run your life? If you do not take an active role in reprogramming it, your “computer mind” will continue to run the old ones. That is why it is so important for you to:
- practice your new healthy rules and trustworthy messages that validate and empower you.
- practice your new rational and healing beliefs that validate and empower you.
- practice your new logical and self-enhancing thoughts that validate and empower you.
- practice using helpful and manageable feelings that validate and empower you.
- practice your new techniques for managing triggers that used to control you.
In November we looked at triggers and how they set off a memory tape.
In December we looked at how to manage the triggers themselves.
This month we will look at CHOICES for managing the bodily reactions that triggers cause.
|Review: A trigger is something that sets off an old memory tape. Triggers are encountered through the five senses which send a message to the brain and you can think, feel and react just as you did back at the time of the original incident. (see November 2017 blog)|
Remember, triggers will cause a bodily response that reminds you of an event that happened in the past and is not occurring right now. Review the fire alarm analogy from November.
Let’s review purpose of feelings for a minute and bodily responses to those feelings. Anger is to advise you that something is not right (June 2017), fear is to alert you that there is danger (July 2017), and sadness tells you that you’ve experienced an important loss (August 2017).
Managing the feelings
Anger causes energy to pump into your body so you need an activity that will get rid of the energy safely. What are the ways that you can do this? The list might include things like putting on some rocking music to dance, going for a brisk walk or run, skipping rope, working out at the gym … anything that uses energy. Make a list that will encompass a wide range of energy. Getting rid of the energy of rage will require something different than getting rid of the energy of irritation.
Since fear tells you there is danger you want to find an activity that makes you feel safe and protected. What are the ways that you can do this? The list might include things like pulling on a comfortable cuddly sweater, calling a friend on the phone, being in a rocking chair … anything that makes you feel secure. Make an activity list that will encompass a wide range of feelings of fear. Note: for example a rocking chair would be a place where you could sit when afraid yet the “rocking” would not seem “weird” or call special attention in your environment.
Sadness is a heavy feeling requiring an activity that will lift your spirit, comforting or energizing you. What are the ways that you can do this? The activity list might include things like putting on some lively music, watching a comedy, doing a favourite activity. Make a list that will encompass a wide range of feelings of sadness.
Points to Remember
- Your list of what helps you get rid of energy, feel protected, or energized will be different from someone else’s list. If you are afraid of water, going for a swim is not going to help.
- It is also important to make the list when you are in a good place and not experiencing problems.
- Try them out and if they don’t work try something else. It might be that the activity provides getting rid of energy (anger) instead of providing feelings of security (fear). It might also be that you need an activity that provides more or less than what the situation calls for. Example, putting on a warm cuddly sweater may not be enough security if you are terrified.
- The list will grow and change. Learning what to choose and when to choose it may be the most important part. Try different ones. If it doesn’t help say “I see that one doesn’t work for me right now. What shall I try next?”
- Journal to keep track of the success (or not) of each event. The following is an example of how someone can process their thoughts as they journal. I put in brackets what the process includes.
- “I was triggered this morning by hearing my neighbours arguing. (recognized arguing as the trigger).
- It brought back memories of when my parents argued and dad would beat mom. (knew it was just a memory; no present danger).
- I began the old thinking that I was the cause of my parents arguing; that if I hadn’t been born they wouldn’t have married. (recognized an old message and belief)
- I began to feel sad and wanted to hurt myself. I thanked my friend Sadness for warning me that I was feeling guilty. (realized the feeling is result of her thoughts).
- I changed my thoughts to I am not responsible for my parents behaviour (chose new belief/thinking)
- and decided to go bicycling in my favourite park. (to get rid of body’s reaction to the trigger, she chose an alternative to lighten her mood)
- At the end of the hour I no longer felt like hurting myself. (alternative was successful)
Some sample alternative choices
These are not listed in any category of feeling (anger, fear, sadness) nor intensity of feeling. You can use them in the category that will best help you.
Go for a swim, a bike ride, a walk or a drive
Go to the park, museum, art gallery, pet store
Watch a comedy show, read a joke book
Read, write a letter, colour or draw, do some journaling
Do some housekeeping, vacuum, dust, do laundry
Clean out closets, drawers, cupboards,
Play cards, video or computer games, do a jigsaw puzzle.
Play pool, baseball, golf, bowling.
Pull out and wear a favourite sweater, bathrobe, outfit.
Experiment with something new … hairstyle, makeup.
Work on your hobby or craft, look through photo albums.
Do some yard work, gardening.
Call or visit someone supportive.
Take a bubble bath; blow soap bubbles.
Go for a massage.
Bake or cook something, try a new recipe, bake bread (kneading dough)
Listen to music (soothing or rocking depends on what you are trying to achieve)
Play with your pet.
Do some exercises, aerobics, dance, sing.
Do some relaxation exercises.
Add your own ideas.
As a child, you were not responsible for understanding there were more than a few restricted choices available. You do have a choice as an adult about how you continue to make choices. You have the right to change them into the many and varied choices that validate and empower you.
Choose today to start making changes by expanding the choices you consider. Change will occur as you continue to:
- Recognize when you are choosing to not make a choice.
- Replace this with conscious choices.
- Start to act on these choices.
Few, limited CHOICES many, varied
painful, intolerable FEELINGS helpful, manageable
illogical, self-defeating THOUGHTS logical, self-enhancing
irrational, damaging BELIEFS rational, healing
unhealthy, dishonouring healthy, trustworthy
given to me as a CHILD RULES AND MESSAGES created by me as an ADULT
Judith S. Carscadden