“The untrained mind lacks wisdom. It’s foolish. Moods come and trick it into feeling pleasure one minute and suffering the next, happiness then sadness. But the natural state of a person’s mind isn’t one of happiness or sadness.”
“The mind gets lost, carried away by these moods with no idea what’s happening. And as a result, we experience pleasure and pain accordingly, because the mind has not been trained yet. It still isn’t very clever. And we go on thinking that it’s our mind which is suffering or our mind which is happy, when actually it’s just lost in its various moods.”
“The point is that really this mind of ours is naturally peaceful. It’s still and calm like a leaf that is not being blown about by the wind. But if the wind blows then it flutters. It does that because of the wind. And so with the mind it’s because of these moods – getting caught up with thoughts.”
If the mind didn’t get lost in these moods it wouldn’t flutter about. If it understood the nature of thoughts it would just stay still. This is called the natural state of the mind. And why we have come to practice now is to see the mind in this original state.” ~ Ajahn Chah ~
One of the first learnings I had was in cognitive restructuring. Simply put, I had to relearn how to think. I learned how to be what I call my observer self.
I never realized that my way of thinking everything was a major disaster was contributing to my life’s disasters. In other words, I was creating the drama and not just reacting to it. So I learned that if I created the drama, I could uncreate it.
Negative thinking or fear controlled my mind and therefore my emotions. I also have learned that feelings can’t hurt me unless I hold on to them.
I learned that my mind was out to get me; or, at the very least, my mind was out to control me. I think that I was addicted to feeling bad because I didn’t think I deserved better. The main reward from negative thinking is low expectations of ourselves. If you think you’re not worth much, you don’t have to achieve much.
The easiest change to make is changing your thoughts. Think of the negative thoughts as being stuck in a rut or circle. Round and round they go but no change occurs. Reframe your thoughts by rewording them. Go from I can’t to I can. All it takes is changing your thoughts. The biggest thing I ever learned about thoughts is that: you can’t think two thoughts at the same time. Let go of the negative; accept the positive.
Creative visualization can be used to receive any change you want in your life. Most of the time, we have in our lives what we want in our lives. To have something you really want in your life, write down your desires in short, concise sentences. Each day, read this list aloud several times.
Change it as often as you’d like. The changing of it is a sign of how much you are coming into agreement with your desires. Use assertive terms such as: I want–I believe–It will–I want–I do.
It is better to not share this list with anyone except your Higher Power until you become comfortable with this technique. In the beginning, have one desire on your list and make it for something easy like a certain sum of money. Later as you become aware of the power of this technique, you can add to your desires.
The following four links have practical visulization technques you can use to make your dreams come true:
Continuing from the last post, Father John Powell was one of my early mentors although I never met him. He is retired now but still very active. His books—especially Why Am I Afraid to Love—helped me to accept that I had the opportunity to begin a new life by letting go of old concepts.
By the time we are 21, it is estimated that we each have retained 20,000 hours of negative self-talk. Father Powell’s books are easy to read and loaded with dynamic self-help concepts. These were some of the first in this field. His books are available at faithalivebooks.The huge concept that I learned from him was the Copernican concept that the world didn’t revolve around me. It was my first step toward living life on life’s terms. In the movie “10 Million Ways to Die”, the hero (Jeff Bridges—one of my all-time favorites) is at the beach after his slip for his 6-month chip. In his acceptance, he says that he never knew that he lived in a world that he hadn’t created. I identified.
I was also slowly learning that although addiction has some common roots for everyone, we each had to wrestle our own demons. So recovery becomes as unique as we each are. The only being large enough to know what we each need is God. The most beautiful gift that we each receive in recovery is that every experience and trial that we have had is a tool to help others with his/her recovery.
The fear we experienced as children created frozen feelings in our adulthood. But in accepting ourselves, we need to remember that that fear protected us when we were small and had no clue how to respond in the world of adults who also were struggling with life plus addiction. So our fears are our protection that we no longer need. Letting go and letting God works much better for my life.
As the main addiction recovery program progresses, other addiction problems will surface. I believe that everyone needs to examine the codependent side of the addiction experience. Over the 35+ years (since 1976) I have been in recovery, I have seen hundreds of relationships between sponsor and addict. Many of these relationships could be enriched by delving into an understanding of the codependent dynamics in this very special relationship. I see no reason why the examining of these dynamics couldn’t be shared by the two.
One of the main codependent relationship choices is the top-dog or underdog positions in power. I was the top-dog—the one who always ran things and had all the answers for everyone else. The “top-dog” is a natural magnet for all those who don’t want to be responsible for him/her. Of course, I attracted under-dogs who “needed” me for everything and who generally weren’t around when I had needs. I now know that this is an under-dog game because they get everything done for them.
Not surprisingly, many codependents end up in the helping professions—policemen, fire departments, social services, teachers, clergy and medical professions. For people seeking help from therapists, be careful not to accept a professional who has your answers. No one can know what is best for anyone else. Choose professionals that offer a free session in which you can explore the helper’s own recovery. A healer can only help you as far as he/she has healed.
Early in recovery, books help much because they can be referred to time and time again. I am including some of the books that helped me. The main criteria I used in choosing what helped me was that the book had to be easy to understand. I believe wisdom is simple.
Update (July 2012) All of these 3 posts about my recovery were written before 2009. In June, 2009, I reached my emotional bottom after being in recovery since Nov. 1976. The book that eventually allowed me to accept my primary addiction (having been born into a home dominated by alcohol) was the Red Book of ACA (Adult Children of Alcoholics).
ACA Red Book and other ACA material can be ordered from the ACA World Headquarters.
It Will Never Happen to Me by Claudia Black.
Adult Children of Alcoholics by Janet Woititz
Drama of the Gifted Child by Alice Miller
Healing the Child Within by Charles Whitfield
Codependent No More by Melodie Beattie
The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous
Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions by Alcoholics Anonymous
Healing the Shame That Binds You by John Bradshaw
Amazon has the following topics under recovery which is in the health, mind and body section: general, adult children of alcoholics, alcoholism, drug dependency, eating disorders, sexual, smoking, substance abuse and twelve-step programs.