Anxiety and stress can create an imbalance leaving us vulnerable to alcohol and other drug problems, relapse and recidivism.
As you probably know, relapse is returning to thinking about or to using drugs of choice. Irrational thinking goes with substance use disorder.
The substances could be alcohol, other drugs or even food. Food is a substance.
Thinking that you can go back to binging, using or committing crime to feel better (self-medicate) is a classic example of the irrational thinking that goes with these challenges.
Irrational thinking goes with depression and other mental health issues such as ADD, Attention Deficit Disorder. It can cause us to feel frustrated, angry, anxious, etc.
The thoughts seem to be true and real at time. They are justified. Justification, mollifying, etc., are characteristics of what is going on with the person. They are the ‘tip of the iceberg’ so to speak.
The key is to understand that this happens and your brain is playing tricks on you. Nobody is broken as I’ve pointed out earlier. It’s just a matter of finding how they work and knowing there is a better way to react. So, when we notice that we don’t feel good or right about a person, place or thing we can be on guard to the fact that it is time to use a coping skill.
As I’ve mentioned before, “Catch it. Check it. Change it” is a great tool to have at your disposal. Imagery too is a great way to feel better – some say – in an instant. psychologytools.com is the source of the check it piece.
If you’d like more information about imagery helping you, call me at 808 385 4550. We can do an exercise on the phone. It’s also available in the Catalog section of my site – Criminal Justice and Addictions Counseling.
Judith S. Beck has a whole chapter of her book dedicated to Imagery. The book is called Cognitive Behavior Theory.
Catch the problem, check and change it. When you change it, make a picture of a very satisfying situation about 10 feet in front of you. The way you see a happy, ideal outcome. It is a picture of a positive person, place or thing that makes you feel great – in charge.
Next, if it feels good to you, make it a little bigger, a little brighter and move it slowly closer to you. Experiment with that. You can try black and white vs in full rich color.
If it’s color that does it for you, experiment with different colors. Again, a little bigger, a little brighter, a little closer. Lock in that skill and you can turn a sad situation into a happy one – any time.