The Power of Working with Thought
On the variable, exciting terrain of the recovery journey, it is often helpful to address the role of thoughts in our addiction.
As the AA term “stinkin’ thinkin’” acknowledges, thoughts are deeply involved in why we used substances in the first place and are connected to both relapse and recovery. Thoughts are also thoroughly enmeshed with the profound psychological and existential pain that, until healed, sets us up to desperately seek relief in something outside of ourselves.
That’s why Villa Kali Ma practitioners help recovering women integrate tools, insight and wisdom from therapeutic modalities like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy. These effective therapeutic approaches are resources for addressing the way that thoughts impact us for good and for ill as we make our way along our hero’s journey.
Do You Agree with Your Thoughts?
We have millions of pain-creating thoughts on any given day. Most of them are not originally ours.
The reason these thoughts are echoing around our psyche’s innermost caves, creating pain and misery for us and others, is not because we ourselves forged those thoughts from insight and experience, as fresh conclusions of our own.
Rather, they are usually inherited or learned, absorbed from the environment and programmed by culture. We are not born with a lot of negativity. We have to be taught to think bad things about ourselves and our world.
When we realize that we have some choice in the matter, of which of all those thoughts we choose to now endorse and approve of, which ones we agree to, things can change quite a bit for us.
We might not be able to instantly clear our heads, but we can at least say “I see you, thought, but I do not actually agree with this line of thinking.” This little bit of disagreement makes all the difference in the world.
The Falcon’s Perspective
Imagine a beautiful, benevolent, protective falcon who is your spirit friend, perched on the highest branch of a very tall tree, comfortably looking down on you in your world. Take a few minutes to picture this handsome bird in all its splendor.
Now try on your falcon friend’s perspective, imagining all that can be seen down below. See your current self down there on the ground, in whatever your present circumstances are.
What do you notice? What is it like to see your world from above?
Now practice shifting back and forth from the two perspectives – first yours, on the ground, in the midst of it all, now the falcon’s.
Falcons have magnificent eyesight, made for detecting the tiniest of movements. They can see all the sorrows and joys of life with exquisite detail. Without being involved in the scene, they can wait patiently, wings folded, simply observing.
What if you could take your falcon friend’s view of your own daily troubles and struggles more often? Could you take a more neutral, balanced, precise, kind, accurate, and discerning higher view? What if you could wait unhurriedly, absorbing all the facts and information needed to fully understand and assess, before deciding on what it all means in the bigger picture of your life?
Seeing a Bigger Picture
Journal time! To try out the friendly falcon’s perspective a bit further right now, think of a situation in your life that you are having painful thoughts and feelings about. Perhaps this situation causes you some turmoil and tumult, or is making you feel down on yourself.
Taking your falcon friend’s view, ask yourself the following questions:
What are all the factors are contributing to this situation being in my life right now?
What hidden explanations, or wider deeper contexts could be the case, and I wouldn’t know just because of my current vantage point?
What wonderful surprises could be revealed in due time?
What is the meaning am I giving to this situation?
Do I like that interpretation?
Is that meaning a fact or more like a feeling or opinion?
What is the benefit to me of looking at the situation that way?
How might others see the same situation?
Is there another way of framing this that I like better?
What would a happy-go-lucky person make of this same situation?
How important is this situation?
How important or will it be a few months from now?
What about a year from now? Three years? Ten years?
Is there anything I could do or focus my energy on right now, that would feel like a positive shift away from this trouble zone?