Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Tools, Glorious Tools - Part Two

In our recovery process we practice patience and manage our expectations. We keep in mind that habits developed over many years may take much time to unlearn. We expect to make mistakes, to backslide, to feel regret when we repeat old patterns of behavior that no longer function for our benefit.

We employ many tools in our daily lives to help us cope with the changes we are making in ourselves and the responses we are cultivating to take the place of our old defense mechanisms. We learn that defense mechanisms are automatic and that we have been employing them without even realizing it. This is the core of how we protected ourselves during our childhood. We have relied on these defenses for a long time. Giving them up creates a void. We fill that void with healthy behavior by using our tools.

In working to change this pattern we strive to become more aware of ourselves and our feelings. We may feel overwhelmed initially by the surge of strong emotions and the feelings that follow. It may take time for us to be able to put words to our feelings if we have been reacting on auto pilot for a lengthy period of time. We allow ourselves to begin to experience all our emotions. This can create much discomfort. We will adjust to the newness of it over time. In the interim we use several tools to help us cope.

We learn deep breathing. When we are tense we tend to breathe in a less effective manner. We breathe with our upper chest and take short, quick, shallow breaths. When we focus on our breathing we take longer, slower, deeper breaths that inflate our abdomen and pull air all the way down to the lower part of our lungs. This allows more oxygen into our blood stream and aids in relaxation. We breathe in through our noses, hold briefly for a count of five, then out through our mouths. As we repeat this process we feel a sense of relaxation flow through ourselves. We are adding vital oxygen to our bodies that have been depleted through stress.

Journaling is an important tool in our tool bag. We write out our feelings, thoughts and opinions about present circumstances and persons in our lives. We may include related memories that have caused us pain in the past, recalled as a result of a particular event. This gives us an outlet for our emotions as well as a way to experience more clarity with regard to our feelings. We may be new at processing our emotions. Journaling gives us an edge. We have our journal entries available for review as we progress through recovery. We can look back at a snapshot of ourselves and see our growth.

Having patience with ourselves, managing our expectations of our progress, allowing ourselves to feel our emotions, deep breathing and journaling… these initial tools help us develop increased self esteem as we use them in our daily lives. We give ourselves the gift of recovery as we practice using our tools to gain emotional balance.

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