Today I am 248 days sober!
I am still shocked to this day at how powerful even the simplest thoughts have on a persons existence. All it takes is one word, a phrase, or even a couple of sentences within your mind to completely alter your mood, attitude, and behavior. Thoughts do control us. Thoughts have such a presence in our mind and they never let us forget that they are there, good or bad. This week I want to talk about the power of thought and what it has shown me. I came to this insight this week through a very reflective and engaging therapy session this week that challenged me to confront my thoughts. Before we really get into the epiphanies I must tell you of the tragedy.
So, longtime readers will know that in the first two months of my sobriety I was in a relationship. This person was very toxic for me and caused me so much pain and heartache. I know I have somewhat addressed what has happened before, but I want to take this opportunity to come right out and say what happened. They cheated. Not once or twice, but multiple times. It was something that, at the time, I had a hard time talking about because I had never felt so low, unwanted, and disrespected by somebody I had cared about. The burden of this trauma has been carried throughout my sobriety. It has made it very difficult for me to make connections with others. My openness to trusting people had been completely obliterated. I could only see myself as a sad bag of shit that nobody wanted or cared about. I’m not joking when I say that this shit fucking hurt and it still does. I even contemplated actually talking about what happened 7 months ago in this post, but I am healing and to not talk about it would be a disservice to all my work in therapy. This week in particular I have experienced the most healing of this traumatic incident as it has been the main focus over the last two sessions. I am finally beginning to feel more at ease because of a change in my thoughts. A change that without this therapy I don’t think I would ever have come to know. This deep, dark, and painful void is starting to be filled again with light and positivity.
Thoughts work in two ways You have positive cognitions and negative cognitions. Trauma like mine is shrouded in negative cognitions and once you experience a trauma not only does the trauma get encoded in your brain, but also the negative cognitions associated with it do as well. So let me explain how this therapy process works in a simplified manner. Basically it’s like my therapist and I have parked a 1-800-Got-Shit truck inside my head and we take all these nasty and disturbing thoughts and throw them into it so they no longer bother me. Part of the process though is reliving the trauma and having all these thoughts come rushing back in full force and letting them seep in all the cracks and crevices of my brain. Don’t worry, it’s not psychological torture even though it feels like it sometimes. Anyways, once I start cleaning out the negative I replace it with positive cognitions. This acts as like a shield to prevent the negative cognitions from getting to me as they have over the years. The goal is to change your perception of what happened and find this sense of “I’m okay I’m not in danger” feeling when you do think about what happened.
So, I know what you’re thinking. Does it really just take a change in thought to help eradicate trauma? Yes and no. There is other stuff goes into it, but I’m not sure I’m quite there yet in the process. Negative cognitions ultimately just intensify the traumatic experience and prolong the pain following it, in my experience. Especially in situations that have similar circumstances to the traumatic one and whether or not a trigger appears. Now having developed a lot of these positive cognitions in therapy I am not as afraid anymore as I am consistently reminding myself that I am okay and in control of my life. Most importantly I have come to relearn my own inner strength and use it as a tool to maintain a fulfilling life for me. So to answer the question more directly: Thoughts do matter and help significantly.
A change in thought has allowed me to have a change in perception. Not only of myself, but also of others in this world. The combination of a sober head space and an injection of positive cognitions is giving me my life back and providing the seeds for me to bloom into my most fruitful yet. I now know of the power within me to embrace the positive and reject the negative because I control my thoughts. Nobody else has the power to overtake my mind and make me feel things that I do not wish to feel. I cannot tell you what kind of comfort that brings to someone like me who has unfortunately found themselves at the will of others. I can now confidently think independently and make decisions of my own accord. I have a lot more work to do, but this early success is something that I am celebrating.
Unburdening the Psyche: