Have you found yourself in a loop or cycle of unhelpful behaviours? Different people get into different loops of destructive behaviour. Perhaps you gamble, use alcohol problematically, you self harm or binge eat? It does not really matter because there is a way to break out of that cycle and move forwards.
My therapy room is full of people who come to me feeling stuck, guilt laden and lacking a sense of real control in their lives and when I tell them that it is a relatively simple process to resolve they are very sceptical.
I highlight that they are using the wrong part of their brain to address their problem and with just a couple of pretty simple changes they will notice profound changes.
By this stage most people are astonished but even more sceptical. I had a client who reported that they had used therapy on many occasions and had made progress. Each time they had left therapy feeling like it was a waste of time. On closer inspection they were accessing the wrong sort of therapy for them. They wanted direction and therapy was not giving them direction. They wanted coping tools and therapy was not giving them coping tools. Therapy was sound but it was only giving them space to examine their thoughts and feelings, and time to heal, but sometimes people want more clarity and overt options.
So how can your thinking break the cycle of destructive drinking, drug use or other compulsive behaviours. When people try to address a compulsive behaviour they and they continue to feel stuck in a rut it is because they use the rational part of the brain to deal with an emotional issue. You can best understand this by spotting rational thinking as built on logic, argument or reason.
“You will have heard yourself doing it.”
“Drinking will not solve your problems.”
“When you have finished gambling you will have not money left and the problems will still be there.”
“Carry on like this and you will lose the kids”
“Heroin is making things worse and it will kill you one day”
“Every time you binge eat you make us all sad.”
“Self harming makes things worse and will leave your body even further damaged.”
“All these arguments are directed to your rational, logical part of your brain.” The reality is that anyone who is self harming, knows the damage they are causing, a drinker or gambler knows the harm it has on themselves and their loved ones and so reinforcing this logic actually makes then person feel even worse.
Ultimately then, it is the feelings part of the brain that is where the real solution to breaking this cycle is, not the logic part. By addressing the logical or rational part you are actually making your issue worse and so making the cycle more difficult to break out of.
So what can you do to address the feelings part of the brain?
It is really simple. The idea that it is really simple can lead to some clients using their rational part of the brain to “judge” then further for not realising how simple it really is. That is not useful but is very common. So Even though it is really simple, firstly you should choose to resist any rational condemnation that you did not know this earlier. The reality is if you knew this earlier you would have done something about it.
So what do you need to do to break this cycle?
Change how you feel.
When you want to do something destructive, it is because it changes how you feel at that moment. So learn new ways to change how you feel and adopt them. Not only as you are about to drink, harm, gamble or what ever but as a lifestyle choice.
How therapy helps people live beyond destructive behaviours.
It helps you become aware of how you operate on a day to day basis.
It helps you become aware of how this affects your feelings from these patterns of behaviour.
It gives you new ways of operating, more useful, more fulfilling.
It equips you to identify what fulfils you and equips you to make changes to be fulfilled.