Thursday, April 16, 2009

Tools, Glorious Tools - Part Three

Now that we have begun our journey into recovery on our chosen path, we need a guide to keep us going in the direction we have picked. We do this by using another tool in our arsenal, reading.

The brain is a series of nerve cells passing electrical charges from one to another. The pattern of a path taken by a particular charge represents a thought. The more times we think a particular thought, the stronger the bonds becomes between those nerve cells. Nerve cells actually move closer together when certain thoughts occur frequently to provide faster processing, much like defragmenting a computer hard disk. Nerve cells that may have been dedicated to thoughts that are not accessed frequently, will be reused by the neural net for newer thoughts. As years pass and we think certain thoughts over and over again, we begin to access these familiar neural pathways automatically.

During recovery we review the internal thoughts we process automatically on a daily basis and decide which we will keep and which we will remove. One of the tools we use to help us in our decision making process are books. We read recovery literature to enlarge our perspective and allow us to develop a more appropriate view of our thought processes and the behavior and habits that those thoughts engender. We choose which of our thoughts no longer serve our needs. We may still hear the voices of our family of origin in the background. We have a choice to listen or silence those old tapes playing in our heads.

Reading recovery materials gives us insight into our actions and allows us to become part of a community of people choosing a healthier path. We read recovery stories of others who have walked the road before us. These give us hope that we too can succeed.

Daily reading keeps us grounded in the principles of recovery. We give our brains new material to form into healthy memories. As we learn about ourselves and others through literature, our self esteem increases. We practice our tools in our daily lives. We practice patience, managing expectations, deep breathing, journaling and reading. Through using our tools and practicing self care we learn one of the most valuable lessons of recovery… we are not alone.

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