Thursday, October 23, 2008

Addiction to Scary Thinking

I’ve been much more aware of my thinking recently. The slogan, “I came for the drinking but stayed for my thinking” is very true. Even with all—or most—substances removed it’s my thinking that causes me trouble. I find that I just slide into telling myself scary stories: He will leave me, I will get fired, they won’t like me, this or that bad thing will happen. The end of the story is always the same though: I am abandoned and I am defective. We all have some of these patterns or habits of faulty thinking that keep us form being happy. In cognitive therapy these would be my “schemas”.

But today walking around the track at the gym I was aware that my mind really wanted to scare me and upset me. I kept trying to shake the thoughts and redirect and distract myself but it was harder than ever. And then I got this idea: These persistent thoughts that seem to want to derail me are like cravings. I understand cravings and this is what these thoughts feel like, the tempting or insistent voice that says, “Come here” and “just one more” and now, “think about this.”

If I view these thought patterns as an addiction and I approach the change as if I am dealing with cravings then I can apply AA principles here too: When cravings strike what do we do?

We can: “Move a muscle change a thought”, pick up the phone and tell someone, and just agree to wait. We can decide to not “pick up” the thought for one day, one hour, one minute at a time. And Pray for this “craving” to be removed.

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