My previous blog about addiction looked at the role our brain plays in both sustaining and beating addiction. Our rational mind may really want to overcome a particular behaviour but using reason and sheer willpower is not usually enough – when clients come to me looking for help with overcoming addiction, I use a powerful visualisation technique, tailor-made for that individual.
Addiction and visualisation: the downsides of the addiction
Visualisation is an extremely powerful weapon to use in the battle against addiction if we clearly visualise the downsides of the addictive activity – such as disabling illness, loss of loved ones, financial hardship, etc, instead of the false memories of fulfilment. When only these more realistic associations come to mind on experiencing a craving, withdrawal symptoms remain mild physiological ones, such as the sensation of gentle butterflies in the stomach or a furry tongue. After a while, if all false memories are rejected and only the fearsome ones are accessed from our emotional memory stores, craving ceases altogether.
Addiction and visualisation: new strategies going forwards
We then need to start to find ways to meet our needs more healthily again, such as by starting or resuming social activities (most people with addictive behaviours gradually give less and less time to what they previously valued); facing whatever may have led to the addiction in the first place, such as a troubled relationship or work difficulties, and finding solutions; and learning ways to deal with future stress – or temptation – without relapsing. This will usually involve changing attitudes towards problems or setbacks, learning to see them as challenges that can be coped with; learning to calm aroused emotions down instantly; and being ready to take ‘emergency action’ to distract oneself from temptation, such as going for a walk or calling a friend.
It is very important to set new life goals for ourselves as we go through the process of giving up an addiction – glaos that really motivate us when the going gets tough.We need to break our goals down into small manageable chunks and to observe the following:
- Goals must be concrete
- Goals must be positive
- Goals must be focused on fulfilling unmet needs in your life.
- Goals must be appropriate
For example: Goal is “I want to get fit and lose weight so that I feel better about myself.”
I will aim to lose xxxlb over a 3 month period. I will exercise on a regular basis and eat as well as I can
From tomorrow onwards I will walk for 30 minutes each evening after work. From this weekend onwards I will play soccer with my children in the park. I will plan my working day better so that I always have access to healthy snacks and water so that I am not tempted to fill up on junk food and coffee.
Need some advice and support?
If you would like to find out more about addiction and visualisation, or indeed any other emotional issues or life challenges and would like to talk things over in complete confidentiality, call Alison Winfield, Mindfully Well Counselling Cork on 087 9934541.