I can control the thoughts in my head

To enjoy good health, to bring true happiness to one's family,

to bring peace to all, one must first discipline

and control one's own mind.

—The Buddha

How to bring peace

to yourself

How to live a positive life

You cannot have a positive life and a negative mind.

—Joyce Meyer

Constant vigilance of my thinking is required

“The answer is that,...

the changing of one's consciousness is really very hard work,

calling for constant unceasing vigilance

and a breaking of mental habits which is sure to be very troublesome for a time.”

—Emmet Fox >>

We become what we think

“We are shaped by our thoughts;

we become what we think.

When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves.”

—The Buddha

Think before you act

Recovery teaches that we no longer have to respond reflexively any more.  We can stop and think before we act.

I can control my thoughts

The key is to recognize our thoughts as just that---only thoughts.

The problem with my addictive thinking

Coming into AA, our minds were incredibly messed up

although at the time we didn’t think so.  The toxic effects of drugs and alcohol on our brains was extensive.  We suffered from depression.  And we had spent years encasing ourselves with denial.  They told us we had “stinking thinking.”  They were right.

 

They said “everything you think you know is wrong.” 

Not about changing a tire or finding a football game on TV, but about how to live in the world.  We didn’t know how to behave or how to relate to others.  We had to establish new priorities and learn to live by spiritual principles.

 

I must learn to control the thoughts in my head

The biggest stumbling block we faced was that our minds were constantly being bombarded by resentments, fear, anger, and a host of other harmful thoughts.  Our subsequent actions necessarily reflected the negativity in our head.  To succeed with our recovery we had to learn how to take control of our thinking.  We had to rid our mind of negativity in all its forms.

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I can choose the thoughts I want to keep

We are not responsible for the first thought that pops into our head

but we are responsible for what we do with that thought.  If the thought of how much I hate my ex-wife pops up, I can call and cuss her out, or I can ignore the thought entirely.  The same goes for any resentment or anger.  We do not have to allow any person, place, or thing to sit in our heads and spread its poison inside us.

 

Thoughts are either seeds or weeds

If I plant weeds in my garden, they will spread and overrun everything else.  I must pull the first weed as soon as it appears.  If I plant a seed of goodness of any kind (charity, kindness, tolerance) it will grow and produce good fruit.  The point is, I get to choose what grows in the garden of my mind.

 

Free will can be defined as what I do with any given thought

We can clutch it to ourselves and obsess on it.  If the thought is about drugs, and we obsess as only we can, the drug will appear in our hands in minutes.  Or, we can decide to jettison the thought of using, refuse to give it space in our heads, and go on about our sober business.

How to change my thinking

The human mind can hold only one thought at a time

Just like switching channels on the TV when a commercial comes on, I can change the channel of my mind.  Suppose I’m watching a show where people are drinking wine.  The thought comes, “wouldn’t it be nice to have just one glass?”

 

I must recognize a using thought and decide to dump it

I can change my focus to the aroma of my wife’s cooking coming from the kitchen, shoving the thought of using aside.  If that doesn’t work, I can reach back into my AA tool kit, and remember to play the tape to the end.  I do so, and remember my last drunk.  “You don’t want a glass of wine, you just want to get wasted.”  How true.  I feel better and go give my wife a kiss.

When all else fails, Higher Power is required

But just a few moments later, the thought returns again, and it’s stronger this time.  This is where my power ends.  Now I must reach out to my Higher Power for help.

Prayer and Thinking

I am powerless over the thought of using

If I allow this thought to linger in me, sooner or later I will find the means to get high.  I am a drunk and a junkie and this is what I do.  Or used to.

 

Prayer is the answer

This is where all my Step work, all my attempts at prayer and meditation, and all my hours spent with the fellowship of AA come into play.  I must be able to communicate quickly, directly, and effectively with the God of my understanding if I am to survive.  This is what prayer is for.

 

A prayer to remove any obsession

I was taught this prayer the first week of rehab.  I have used it repeatedly for the last twenty years, and it has never failed me.  Just fill in the blank as necessary for any occasion.

God,

I thank you for taking away my obsession with ________.

And replace it with the faith that no matter what happens,

Everything will be alright.

 

Two things are significant here.  The prayer is in the form of thanksgiving for what God is doing for me right now.  “I thank you for taking away….”  And most importantly, we ask for faith to replace what we are removing.  The prayer works for whatever your obsession might be—drugs, sex, you name it.  It also works for anger, resentments, and any form of fear. 

 

Be persistent

Should the thought of using (or resentment, or whatever) return in five minutes, just say the prayer again.  My stinking thinking may regenerate the thought, but the prayer will just as quickly dispose of it. 

The Prayer that Vanquishes Fear >>

How to remove all negativity

Negative thinking comes unbidden

On any given day, our minds will be filled with all kinds of negative thinking.  The old resentment against cousin Eddy.  The dread that I won’t be able to pay my bills.  Anxiety that someone will take away something I love.  Worry that no one likes me.  Road rage.  These daytime nightmares can take up the biggest part of my day.

The key to controlling my thinking

indeed, one of the most important keys in recovery, is to recognize these morbid thoughts as soon as they emerge.  For it is only by recognizing them can I keep them from running the show.  This takes practice, lots of practice, but the benefits are enormous.  

 

Make a commitment to monitor every thought

Reaffirm it every day, every hour, or even every five minutes if need be.  Constant surveillance is required if this is going to work.  Be patient, this process will take months or longer.  You will never be entirely free of dangerous thoughts, but they will no longer control your life. 

Recognize these poison thoughts----

 

Awfulizing

I can make mountains out of a molehill faster than you can light a pipe.

 

Blame and Shame and Guilt

The three principles offenders.  There is no room for any of these in recovery.

 

What if, if only

deadly words for they only bring unhappiness.  They are of no help to anyone.

 

Could’ve, should’ve, would’ve

Rehashing a past that can’t be changed.  These thoughts make you do one thing—feel bad about yourself.

If you are anything like me, your mind can become a whizzing, swirling storm of thoughts.  Mindfulness is a way to slow things down.  It is a simple technique that helps us focus on what is directly in front of us.  It is part of living in the moment. 

 

More about Mindfulness here >>

The Problem is Addiction

The Answer is Recovery

Text and original photos copyright 2017-2018 by Linville M. Meadows