Pills

                                            Pills

                                           candy

                                           candy

                                         Alcohol

                                         Alcohol

                                          cards

                                          cards

They can all become vicious cycles, spiraling down to addiction.


Brief Therapy for Addiction and Eating Disorders


Vicious Cycles, Active Guided Meditation and the Ripple Effect

         Most people, at some time in their lives, wonder why they do the same unfulfilling thing over and over, especially when they know better. Perhaps they are overeating, overworking, attracting the wrong relationships, spending every free moment on the Internet or playing solitaire. Unaware they are caught in a vicious cycle, they complain they are in a rut at a dead end. They feel compelled to work, get a relationship -- any relationship or drink, drug or eat. A heroin addict may resort to crime to feed his vicious cycle, while the over-eater may hurt only himself.

         Yet these seemingly different people are stuck in same vicious pattern that definitely leads to ever increasing negative events. Some people who don't stop the downward spiral of a vicious cycle will die early, die isolated or end up locked up in a prison or a mental institution. Others become depressed and lonely. The workaholic needs to take the same steps as the alcoholic to end this behavior, because the vicious cycle is at the heart of all addictions, repetition compulsions, and dead end ruts.

Consequences of Vicious Cycles

         A vicious cycle has progressive long-term negative consequences, and eventually interferes with our thinking. Our energy and motivation diminishes. Our bodies break down. Our social world shrinks. Being in the downward spiral of repetitive negative events eventually takes a huge toll on the quality of our lives and increases our painful emotions, often fear, depression and anger. And the irony is that we get trapped in the vicious circle because we want to avoid those painful feelings and threatening emotions to begin with.

         The first step in the vicious circle pattern is the immediate gratification of pleasure or relief from pain. Eating is very sensual and satisfying. Drinking loosens us up and makes us feel good. Work is productive, safe and satisfying. Drugs give us an immediate escape from pain. The second step is that there is always a negative consequence over time in our life. We get fat, drunk or lose friends. In the the third and final step, this pain from the inevitable negative consequences compels us to get our immediate gratification again, in spite of knowing better. Eat more, drink more, work more or take more drugs!

         Unfortunately, if you play, you pay... eventually. Over time, imperceptive at first, the damage and negative consequences progressively grow in your life. And with it the desire for immediate relief. The situation gets out of control, and you're unable to stop this vicious circle. The problem has become huge and unmanageable.

         Your Life is Multi-dimensional

         It is like the following story. Five monks were blindfolded and asked their expert opinion about an object they touched. The first said it is a hairy creature. The second said it was cold, hard and smooth. The third said it was dry, rough and cracked. The fourth said it was dry, rough and smooth. The fifth said it was hot, moist and soft. They were all correct from their own point of view. What they had touched was an elephant. The first touched the tail, the second the tusk, the third the hide, the fourth the hoof and the fifth the underside of the tongue. None saw the creature in its entirety. This is often the problem with our understanding and treatment of vicious circles and addictions; the problem has many different parts.

         A tremendous percentage of the people trying to stop their vicious circle pattern of behavior fail to realize that the extent of the damage of vicious circle behavior is multi-dimensional. Short sighted like our scientists, they don't realize that their short term solution has a long term negative effect upon the following dimensions of their life: their thoughts, their feelings, their body, their spirit and their social world. Like most people, most therapeutic perspectives even with Active Guided Meditation, treat only one of these dimensions. For example, cognitive therapy helps people change the way they think. Analysis opens the emotional baggage of our past in order to feel better. Family and Systems therapy helps change relationships and social world. Physicians focus on the body while the clergy helps strengthen our spirit and motivation to lead a good life.

         Yet, the rising tide of drug, alcohol and other vicious circles makes it obvious that these single dimensional approaches have a high rate of relapse and are not doing well. Most people agree that to lose weight you must go on a calorie restricted diet, and change your life to include exercising. Usually nothing else in their life changes. Then when they go off their diet and stop exercising, they (surprise, surprise) go right back to the weight they were, then become very despondent and this further fuels the vicious circle, and then, unfortunately, usually gain even more. If you stop drinking without changing anything else, once you have had that one drink, you eventually go back to your last drinking level or even get worse. The same is true with cigarettes and drugs. But if you stop a vicious circle by making small changes in the five major dimensions of your life your likelihood of success increases. The 8 week seminar called Making a Change In Life Creating a Ripple Effect will incorporate the ideas that follow.

         The Ripple Effect and Active Guided Meditation

         By making a small change in a single dimension of our life we can create a "ripple effect." What this means is that all the dimensions of our life are interconnected and effecting one, effects all. Imagine that a person consists of four parts: the mind, the body, the spirit and the emotions. Visualize each of these quadrants as a separate piece of geography, interconnected within a larger circle, the person's social life. A small positive change in one will necessarily cause changes throughout the entire system. Making a small change in your life leads to larger changes, as Milton H. Erickson said.

         Now, if you make changes in all the dimensions, all these circles will change and the resulting interactions can lead to greater and greater waves of success. A positive circle effect instead of a vicious one. According to Milton H. Erickson, trance is a natural state of inward focused attention that anyone can learn to achieve, where you create a state of thoughtful serenity. Just going into trance, a pleasant comfortable state, can offer immediate gratification without any negative consequences. Affording one the wherewithal to take the steps out of the vicious circle.

         Thus, we receive immediate gratification as well as long-term solutions without any negative consequences. Trance is also where the spontaneous healing ability of the unconscious mind is activated. Now, if we enhance the unconscious mind with meaningful ideas and suggestions, it will help people make the changes in all the dimensions of their lives. This results in a sober and straight new way of life, where you have pleasure from meditation, meaning and purpose. Practical information on what and how to change are the seeds of change in the fertile unconscious mind. The unconscious mind is the "power tool" of this treatment.

         For more details about the dimensions and how to change them, look at the Change Your Life seminar