Basically, by moving from one part of the brain to another; by changing where one thinks. Addictive thoughts are stimulated by emotional triggers - anxiety, sadness, anger, fear, etc...even joy, elation, playfulness,...Emotions originate in the Limbic System. When a person is “trying to talk” to or from an emotional reaction, they are in their Limbic System — the “reactionary” part of the brain, not the “thinking” part of the brain — the Cerebral Cortex. If a person can recognize the emotion and stop themselves from giving in to their immediate reaction, they have the chance to change where they think. They have the chance to move into their Cerebral Cortex — to use the neural networks responsible for reasoned response. Behaviors based on thinking are far more effective than those based on reacting.
Reacting = behavior without thinking. Reactions originate in the Limbic System.
Responding = behavior preceded by thinking. Responses originate in the Cerebral Cortex.
Reduce Inner Conflict By Changing Where You Think
So how do you change where you think? I like to keep the visual of a “Fork In The Road” in mind for doing this. Picture yourself at that fork, when “Bam!” you are slammed by an emotion. But you are at a fork — you have a choice — shall you take your typical right (your reaction) or push yourself to take that new left (respond instead)? Consider these suggestions:
1. Stop yourself as soon as you are aware of that surge of anxious, sad, angry or scared feelings.
- Some folks wear a rubber band on their wrist, which they immediately snap when those feelings of anxiety arise, in order to jar their thinking – to move it from the Limbic System to the Cerebral Cortex.
- Instead of a rubber band, some use a word like HALT or THINK or STOP or a phrase or slogan. [N.O.P.E. comes to mind! - Thomas]
- Some use Cognitive Restructuring Techniques.
- Some use slogans or sayings – taping them on their car dash, bathroom mirror or desk top – as a reminder of an overall behavior they want to change.
2. Change the dial on self-talk radio. Have you ever had these kinds of one-sided conversations with yourself?: “There you go, again.” “You’re so stupid.” “Why’d you say that?” “I should have finished that and would have if I wasn’t so disorganized.” Now, ask yourself, “Would you ever talk to a friend like that?” Of course not. It is important to stop being so hard on yourself. When you change the channel on self-talk radio, you can begin to see your many great qualities and in time accept that you are a person with feelings who deserves self-respect and the respect of others.
3. Banish absolutes – all good / all bad, all right / all wrong. Generally people and situations are not all good nor all bad, all right nor all wrong. When you banish absolutes, you can love yourself with your brain [where all thought originates] and accept that at your core, you are a good person with a brain disease or an addiction problem – a disease or condition that has caused chemical and structural changes in your brain, thereby changing much of your thinking and many of your behaviors.
So when you are next facing that fork in the road, try and give yourself a moment to think. For when you are thinking, you won’t have to take that automatic right, you just may push yourself to take the left, instead. And if you go left, you have a chance to step away from the conflict.