PREVIOUS: CDs & the Unconscious (#3)
1. THINKING (Part 2 & 3)
Changing our thinking patterns is a continuous, sometimes frustrating process. The more we understand how our brain & the process of change works, & what to expect, the more hope & patience we can have!
RECOVERY: Correcting our thinking leads to a more peaceful inner world. It’s helpful to remember that this state is something we have to get used to – most of us find it boring at first. Eventually we come to appreciate & cherish the internal quiet. This is not boredom – which is an aspect of thinking, not feeling. It’s rather a sense of well-being!
• In general, emotions are stored as physical memories of our experiences & can be recalled by events in the present they remind us of. These emotions may be comforting, pleasurable, relieving, exciting… OR scary, rageful, lonely…. We can’t directly choose what we feel, only what we think.
• Researchers tell us that anxiety* responses such as “fight or flight” originally had adaptive value for the human species, & are still legitimate forms of protection. Active defensive measures such as – sensitivity to sound, the startle response, shallow breathing & increased heart rate – help people to escape real dangers.
However, we rarely face the external dangers our ancestors did, so now we’re flooded with those same stressful chemicals from internal pressures (CDs) without enough physical outlets to burn them off. (Post: Anxiety & T.E.As)
*Anxiety (diffuse fear) is the nervous system’s response to internal or external stressors (a painful loss, self-hate, a fight with someone….) which intensifies how we feel & then act, but needs to be triggered by our negative thinking.
This has been shown on brain imaging scans. However, since CDs are conditioned over time & become unconscious habit, we simply don’t recognize the source of our fear.
• Cognitive (T) psychologists believe that some people are more biologically predisposed than others to ‘threat-sensitivity’ & the distress it causes. In such people, once anxiety (E) is triggered, it’s maintained, even increased IF negative thinking is added to the mix.
Extreme physical responses to CDs, set off by in stressful situations, can spread to & contaminate other parts of our lives – that not actually dangerous, or only mildly uncomfortable.
EXP: Obsessive worry (T) caused by projecting the loss of a relationship – which is not imminent – can provoke a panic attack (E), with the same physical upset as if being held up at gunpoint!
• As adults, ACoAs too often make the mistake of ‘Emotional Reasoning’, assuming that if we feel a certain way, it must be true: “I’m really, really scared today, so it’s not safe to leave the house”! The WIC is having an intense feeling about something going on in our life (an exam, a new job, a break-up…) & wants to hide.
But the sense of impending doom is way out of proportion to the actual situation. “If it’s hysterical, it’s historical”. And staying home alone may make it worse!
EXP: Your father may have only beaten you once or twice as a kid, for stealing some change or sassing mom, but that pain, fear & humiliation will always be associated with thoughts like “Dad doesn’t love me”, or “Parents are so unfair!”…. So now, anytime the boss (parent figure) is annoyed with you for making a mistake, you’re terrified, convinced you’ll get fired any minute now!
NOTE different ways adults can respond emotionally to the death of a parent:
💦 A symbiotically attached ACoA will be devastated, partly from the loss of hope, partly from the depth of abandonment, perhaps also feeling guilt & anger at being left. Sometimes they suicide.
💘 A healthier person with sufficient S & I experience will be sad, mourning the loss & be aware that a permanent piece of their life is gone, but has a sound emotional & spiritual foundation to sustain them
NEXT: CDs – Results (#1)