We’re doing corporate initiative days at work. We have an excellent coach — a woman who has worked for the United Nations, mediated disputes between warring religious factions — seriously, she’s brilliant. Today’s workshop provided tools for time and stress management. In it she touched on some cognitive behavior therapy tools. I know some of you are really familiar with CBT. I have only a slight nodding acquaintance with it, but I can tell you that today I found it really interesting.
We talked about Trigger Thoughts and how those thoughts spark feelings which lead to actions/behaviors and so on. Some of our Trigger Thoughts are about others, but often we focus on ourselves. For an example, when I’m really busy I might think, “I just can’t take on one more thing. I can’t handle it.” That thought might trigger a stressed out feeling as I get anxious about what I’m supposed to do or should be doing or the thing that I don’t feel I can handle, etc.” The tool the coach suggested us to develop is to create a Replacement Thought instead. Then, even if we have to repeat the replacement thought over and over again, we can create, or trigger, a different feeling to lead to a more positive action.
I spent time today thinking about this process and how I might apply it to my recovery. Sometimes I still get the old “believing I’m not good enough” (B.I.N.G.E.) thoughts although, thankfully, they are fewer and much farther apart than ever before in my life. Old, diseased thoughts lead to me feeling down and negative and those feelings can trigger the desire to inappropriately eat. I think it’s a good idea for me to develop strong replacement thoughts for BINGE thinking. Instead of believing that I’m deficient or don’t measure up, I can use the replacement thought of, “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and, doggone it, people like me.” (Pardon the gratuitous Stuart Smalley reference.)
Seriously, this is good stuff, replacing negative thoughts and attitudes with positive, can do, spirit. My attitude can either propel me to win whatever challenge or situation I face, or it can stop me dead before I’m even out of the starting gate.
This doesn’t mean it’s all easy. If I don’t move fast, I can rip right through the emotions and eat before I have time to put on my own brakes. I think it’s extremely important to spot the Trigger thought and quickly replace it before I let it root in my emotions. That’s how I give myself a fighting chance.
The coach reminded us that we need to practice new tools at least 21 times for them to really sink into our repetoire. This is my goal for the next month: Identify and be aware of Trigger thoughts and how they kick off negative emotions. Replace the Trigger thoughts with ones that are positive. When all is said and done, don’t eat because of thoughts and feelings.