Stinkin’ Thinkin’ 

I have learned many little tricks to assessing where my head is, I mean, whether I’m thinking like I did in the Old Days or thinking with my “right mind”. I was taught early on -maybe you’ve heard this, too – that my mind is like a bad neighborhood at night: I don’t want to go there alone. I knew intuitively (?) from the get-go that I could not trust my own thinking. 

When I arrived at treatment, I had gone through everyone I’d known and come up with the following:

I couldn’t trust my parents

I couldn’t trust women

I couldn’t trust men

…and finally…

I couldn’t trust myself.

So it was easy for me to grasp the concept of “I no longer have a drinking problem. Now I have a thinking problem.” I definitely needed to re-learn how to think.

You can’t think your way to sober living…

While I was in treatment, IOP and residential, I began to learn about the different styles of “Unhealthy thinking” (ie Stinkin Thinkin). The list is fairly long, so I’m just going to touch on a few, here, followed by an example or explanation of my understanding of what it means. 

1.    Personalisation – also known as hypersensitivity – This involves blaming yourself for any and everything that goes wrong, even when logic tells you that you’re only partially responsible, or even not responsible at all. This kind of thinking has you feeling guilty WAY too often, and apologising when you have nothing to apologise for. One common example of this is when you blame yourself for someone else’s poor choices. 

I am responsible for everything inside of my skin. I can’t control anything outside my skin, with the possible exception of my kids, and, really I’m pretty powerless over them most of the time. 

2.    Catastrophising – this is when a person makes mountains out of molehills.  Another way of saying it is “pole-vaulting over mouse turds.” Teenagers are great for this sort of thing, and since we tend to stop growing emotionally when we begin our addiction, that can cover we in addiction recovery as well. This reminds me of a boyfriend who always told me I was too dramatic. I had no idea what he was talking about, but now I do. The best way I have come up with to stop this kind of thinking is to take my emotions out of it, and look at the situation with only my mind/logic/intellect.  (I do this at times with sarcasm, I think. Probably not the best approach, but it helps ME.) After that, I usually will go to the EXTREME possible outcome, which is just ridiculous. For example, I work with a woman who does this. Last week she had a hangnail that she’d picked, and although it wasn’t bleeding, it was (a hangnail, remember, so pretty tiny) raw-looking. She showed it to me and did her hyperventilating act, and asked me  in her trembling voice if it was going to be alright. I told her we’d probably have to take the finger off.  Sarcasm might not have been the best response, but I think you get the point. I put a bandaid on it and she is still alive as far as I know, and still has all of her digits. 

3.    Black & White thinking – Also known as All-or-Nothing thinking. This style of thinking is where you see everything as good or bad,  wrong or right, with no in-between. The word “moderation” just doesn’t exist in an alkie/druggie’s vocabulary. When me Dad got sober he would talk about how he used to say “Moderation is for wimps!” The example that comes to mind is the way an alcoholic drinks. If you’re going to offer them one, you’d better be ready to share the rest with them. The sad and funny thing about that is, many of us relapse because we convince ourselves that we can have “just one.” How crazy is that? I never wanted one of ANYTHING, before, and now all of a sudden I was going to calmly moderate? One of anything just irritated me. The thing that helps me to avoid this kind of faulty thinking is that I force myself to imagine the thing in a gray area. My instinctual thought was “he’ll either be dead or he’ll recover” (in the case of my Dad’s surgery to cut out the cancer), well, guess what. I forgot to consider that maybe he wouldn’t die right away and he wouldn’t be healed. I hadn’t ever imagined for a second that what would happen was actually in the middle of those two things. So now I force myself to remember that gray is a perfectly possible outcome, most of the time. (Just not where addiction is concerned. Period.)  

4.     Magnifying and Minimisation – This often is a go-to for a person not actually ready to quit. You’ll hear things like “I had X, Y, & Z, but I didn’t have my favorite drug!” or “I relapsed part of Monday, part of Tuesday, and part of Wednesday.” or “He gave it to me.”From the tone of their voice, I am pretty sure this seemed like a perfectly good comprehension of the events. The reality of the situations was A), you relapsed, and it doesn’t matter on what, because any of those things could kill you or send you to prison and B), You only relapsed for “part of” those days because you didn’t have money to buy more? Or because when you were coming down you don’t consider that to be the same as being high? and C), He didn’t hold you down and force you to do it.  

As far as addiction goes, regardless of what the focus of the addiction may be- with the possible exception of food addiction, there is no middle ground. You’re either clean or you’re not. You’re either living in an addict’s brain or you’re living in a recovering person’s brain.  

OK, that’s probably enough to chew on for now. If this has been helpful to you in any way, or if you think it could help someone else struggling with an addict or an addiction, please share.  
     

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7 responses to “Stinkin’ Thinkin’ 

  1. It is not without frustration that I write this and I hope you can read through that and maybe find time to answer the question at the end of this comment.

    What I find difficult in this approach to un-addicting or reversing the process of the addictive personality is that nobody is able to tell me HOW to make a change. Changes made ‘over the rational’ do not last long in my experience/life. ‘Just do it’ does not cut it for me. I quit drinking, that went down in a sort of ‘just do it’ way. But all the other stuff? Well, today I posted 3 posts.
    1 On how I am doing after clashing with my boss.
    2 On how people who are all in control would react to it and
    3: The final post of a vid which FINALLY, after 10 months, made me understand the dynamics of the relation with my boss and how it had come about. And with that I understood this aspect from almost all the other relations I had, those with my parents, those with partners or bosses. The aspect of the intermitted reinforcement / codepency became so very clear.

    For the post of how to react to bosses when you are in control: I am not there yet. And I actually think when somebody is so much aware of the things going on and so much control of their own reactions, they would probably not even start working for a boss like that.

    All the lists of how to on WordPress, by professionals, on Facebook by (non) professionals do not influence me other than making me feel inadequate and, well, actually (yeah yeah, I let them) disable me. Unless I understand, figure out how things work, how I am feeling wise / emotionally attached to the situation with my boss (preferring abusive relations/addicted to intermitted reinforcement/double bind) I seem to have no entry at all. (Can anybody please please please tell me) How (on earth!) other people learn? (In between their running, yoga, high end jobs, family, relations, saving the world, holidays, cake baking, voluteering?) 😦 I am at loss. 😦 Eventhough my life is not easy I think I am exactly on the path where I should be, out of the 20 something people I knew I started with blogging at the same time, I and another person are the only ones continously sober so there is something going well.) It is just that these lists, the how to’s which I can not get/grab/apply, they get to me. 😦
    xx, Feeling

    Liked by 1 person

    • The only way I’ve been able to change my way of thinking is by going to a bunch of meetings and staying in close contact with my supports. Reaching out is where the solutions are. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes. The seed of that plan has been planted with this outburst of emotion. I am in more need of feedback and live contact AND with tripping over myself for the so maniest time on somebodies blog I have come to a place where I am willing to learn. 🙂 Which…. is not unimportant either.
        Thank you.
        xx, Feeling

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    • Hey, Mark! I’m sorry it’s taken me a while to reply! I haven’t been getting notified when I have comments!
      Thank you for coming by and leaving your thoughts. I hope I am able to help.

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