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Tag Archives: Self-direction

Hitting the Toggle Switch: Tools for Triggers

Eckhart Tolle Quote

 

Friends of the Blog, I cannot stress to you enough the vital, powerful, and user-friendly importance of the following exercises, shared with us and created by our San Francisco Convenors. Please have a good look see at it, put yourself in place of where it says “I”, and by all means, tell us what you’ve found out here in the comments, as will I!

🙂 Bobbi C.

For Every Trigger There is a Toggle

Most of us have experienced a Trigger—something that generates an immediate and overwhelming desire to have a drink or take a drug. Usually it’s some kind of sensory experience, like the smell of limes, or hearing a sad song, or talking with a specific person. Sometimes it’s a place. These Triggers are echoes of the past—your Addict Self trying to get back some control.

How can I get around such a powerful force? It begins with my Sober Self being fully aware of my personal Triggers. If I know them, I can anticipate and prepare my response. If I can’t avoid them, I can plan for them. That’s where Toggles come in—they can be a counterbalancing force to the Trigger.

Begin with Self Knowledge: Know My Triggers

  • What is the trigger? A smell, a sound, a person, a place?
  • What feelings does it create?
  • How long will it last?

For example, a trigger might be smelling lime juice because I used to drink vodka-limes. The smell causes a deep, immediate desire to drink, and lasts for a short anticipated time.

Create My Toggles

  • Imagine a sober opposite that will temporarily disable the Trigger.
  • Imagine a sober feeling and attach it to the Toggle.
  • Practice the Toggle until the Trigger disappears.

In our example, I might imagine a lime tree that reminds me of my garden, and think about the peace and happiness I feel while enjoying the garden until the craving passes (and I know it will pass eventually—a powerful understanding by itself).

Anticipate and Practice

  • What Triggers could be coming up this week?
  • Imagine them happening and practice the Toggles
  • Create a list of Triggers and their opposing Toggles
  • Notice the transition as Triggers become Toggles

With practice and repetition, my Toggles will override and become a natural and healthy, habitual, unconscious reaction to the Triggers, something I am fully aware of and don’t even have to think about.

Tell us about your experience

Do you have Toggles that work for you (maybe by a different name)? If so, please share!

— Prepared by San Francisco Conveners

~~

Keeper of the Month – September

Stay Calm

 

One of the most magical things that happens in LifeRing’s e-mail groups is that someone new(er) to the group who may be struggling or have multiple relapses under their belt might post something about how difficult it’s been for them, but how it’s so seemingly easy for others…

And then the group does what it does best, and post after post from other members who’ve been through much the same things roll in, and the original poster realizes they’re really, truly not alone, and that despite everything they’ve been through, there really, truly is hope for them, too.

This month’s Keeper is one such response from long-time group member Richard:

[Replying after another member told their story] “…my story is such that I can’t tell it even in the space you used. So here is the very truncated version for you and anybody else who might benefit.

 I’m one of those folks who drank to excess from the time I started. I was surrounded in my youth with lots of other big drinkers and drug-takers, and I managed to function (i.e.,get up and go to work, or school) most of the time, despite being out of control with uppers, pot, acid, always accompanied by lots and lots of booze.
 
When I turned 30, I had my first kid, and then a couple of years later had another one on the way. Until then, the big deal was the few times I had stopped for a week or two, just to prove I could do it. But I knew I needed help, and finally sought it, entering a rehab in the summer of ’84. I had to go back again in the spring of ’85, and this time it stuck for a decade.
 
I was directed to AA and found a home there, of sorts. My life improved significantly, although of course I still had a lot of  ‘issues.’ I remain grateful to this day that I was sober throughout much of my kid’s youth, despite having split with their mom after a few years.
 
Finally, nearly ten years after stopping, I decided (while on a business trip in the midst of a painful break-up), that going on a little bender ‘just this once,’ would be okay. After all, I had been in therapy most of the ten years I’d been sober, and told myself I had ‘grown’ so much that I’d have no problem resuming long-term sobriety. I lasted a couple of months, and then the drinking times started getting closer and closer.
 
So, I stumbled inadvertently into LifeRing 15 years ago, and started putting together some longish periods of sobriety, but I never seemed to hold onto it. Finally, in February of 2010, I began what is now by far my second longest period of sobriety, which is continuing.
 
I should stress that not everybody struggles, and I do have to say that I have no doubt that my extended periods of sobriety probably saved my life. I figure I’ve been sober over 20 of the last 31 years, just counting periods of longer than one year, plus I know I have around half a dozen six month stretches. Nonetheless, there is no substitute for continuous sobriety, at least not for me. Things don’t always get wonderful right off the bat, but you give yourself a darn good chance to get the most out of life. We all have learned that the other way is just fighting a losing battle against misery.”
~~

 

 

 

When Dehydrated Beans and Mystery Meat Just Won’t Do…

isn’t it good to know Taco Bell’s gonna start serving booze*?!

Ay, chihuahua**.

*Do not view (or go to Taco Bell in the near future) if pictures of alcohol trigger you.

**View if you like adorable pictures of sad chihuahuas.

Arcata, CA Meeting Moving to Google For the Summer…

Google Hangouts

 

And you’re invited! That’s right, even if you don’t live in California, you can still hang out at a LifeRing meeting this summer.

Here’s the haps:

Due to this being an especially busy summer for Arcata, California face-to-face meeting members, meeting convenor Rick B. is moving it online to Google Hangouts. It will be held on Monday evenings at 6:00 PM PST.

Now, you may be asking yourself, “Yeah, but…how does this Google Hangouts thingy work?” No worries – just e-mail Rick at liferinghumboldt@gmail.com and he’ll be happy to give you all the information you need.

Sign up, join in, and hang out!

~~

 

 

Keeper of the Month – April

Lifering’s e-mail groups are active, thriving communities of people who use them as strong sources of sobriety support, and many members often post remarkably written sources of inspiration, hope and encouragement that many other group members call “Keepers” – posts that they save for themselves so they can go back and look at them as often as they like.

We here at LifeRing like sharing these posts, with the authors’ permission, on our Blog so that everyone can enjoy them as much as our group members do.

  You gotta do what you have to do

LifeRing’s major mission is helping addicts learn to practice “The Sobriety Priority“, which means making recovery the most important thing in one’s life. When done, everything one does or doesn’t do thereafter involves considering the impact upon their recovery, and making self-care and life decisions based upon those principles.

Sometimes people in early recovery have a difficult time wrapping their minds around what, exactly, this means or why it’s necessary. This month’s Keeper is a LifeRing “old timer” answering those very questions posed by a newcomer:

 

From my point of view, sobriety is about learning how to live life, in whatever permutation you choose it to take. The thing about it that’s always appealed to me is the very possibility of that, whereas when I was drinking alcohol my choices were extremely limited, usually to more of it, and less of pretty much everything else.

Most active alcoholics, contrary to popular belief, are able to hold down jobs, mortgages, marriages and families, hobbies and almost all other vestiges of daily life precisely because they smack of “normalcy”, and allow the drinker to point out to themselves and everyone else that, since they’re not sitting underneath a bridge somewhere, swilling things out of brown paper sacks (or some other horrific fate worse than death), then they must be OK.

Some are more or less successful at this depending upon to what degree they are willing to work to maintain operating under the illusion that they’re running the show, while shackled in chains.

When you sober up, one thing that happens almost immediately is that you begin to notice the detritus left scattered about from your own personal, slow-motion train wreck, all of which was generally observable the entire time, only you were too drunk to notice or care. Without the blinders of alcohol, it can seem overwhelming.

The part of your brain that’s responsible for the whole thing, conveniently, thinks the solution to seeing the light of day is to put the blinders back on, and carry on with the chief fallacy of every addict’s life–“You can’t deal with all this! It’s not a good time, not a good time at all. You’ve got this (insert adjective of importance here) to do right now, and once that happens, then you can think aboutquitting drinking. How about we wait and pencil it in for next Thursday?”

It seems, to me, that the real key to freedom, to life, is learning how to sort out the truth from the lies–reality versus illusion–and what of either we choose to believe. The reality is, the rest of your life can be a long time, but it won’t happen next Thursday, after the illusion of some other self-imposed condition has been improbably met. It begins when you begin it, and it continues if you sustain and build on what you’ve begun.

Since life is not an instant but begins (and ends) in them, and instants become moments, and moments unfold into days, all you can do is take them as they come; some days are better than others, but through continuous practice – and yes, some monumental effort – and often to your own amazement, you realize you’re able to point your life in the direction you want it to go for the simple reason that you’re finally able to lift your aim that high.

You may not find that out for a while, but there’s plenty of time for it, and anything else you’d like, if you’re willing to give it to yourself.

~~