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Calming the active mind image

Do you ever wish you had access to a switch that could stop unwanted thoughts?

Everybody has intrusive thoughts. The average human being has approximately 50,000 thoughts per day. If you have the kind of mind that causes you distress from worry about past events, future events, overwhelming responsibilities, unhealthy impulses, or thoughts that feel out of control, you are not alone.  Most adults have lost sleep at some point due to an overactive mind.

The following can cause an overactive, distressed mind:

  • Watching the news or TV shows that are fear -based. This contributes to negative thought patterns.
  • Consuming processed sugar, caffeine, alcohol or stimulants. These affect cognition and stimulate brain chemicals that exacerbate an overactive mind.
  • Worrying about possible scenarios that are not happening in the present moment. This causes mental tension and can lead to anxiety.
  • Ruminating on unresolved past experiences. This causes the mind to disengage from problem- solving.
  • Living a stressful, busy, intense lifestyle. This overstimulates your nervous system and decreases mental functioning.
  • Living in an unsafe environment. This puts your mind in hyper- vigilant mode.
  • Focusing on other people or things which are not in your control to fix. This distress your mind and causes agitation and irritability.

If you want to have more peace of mind it is important that you subject yourself to healthy environments and information. Just as your body processes the food and substances you put into it, your mind processes the thoughts and external stimuli you expose it to.

The following activities help to calm an overactive mind:

  • Keeping your thoughts in the present moment helps you deal with life at life’s pace, de-stressing your mind.
  • Reading something positive distracts your mind from negative thinking and stimulates wellbeing.
  • Creating internal dialogue that is encouraging and non-critical promotes mental health.
  • Focusing on what you are grateful for in your life increases contented thinking, which leads to happiness.
  • Listening to a relaxation tape with your eyes closed allows your mind to escape to a serene place, easing thoughts and calming your mood.
  • Meditating increases alpha brain wave activity creating a wakeful rest state. This decelerates the body’s internal activity and calms mental activity.
  • Being in an environment with all 4 natural elements balances your energy- earth helps to ground and center you- outdoor air helps to release and shift negativity- natural water cleanses and washes away impurities- Fire transforms negativity.
  • Journaling your thoughts and feelings acts as an outlet to release the clutter in your mind.
  • Praying for God’s help and strength to manage stressful thoughts can give your mind relief. This is an act of turning your problems over to a power greater than yourself.

If you have difficulty managing your thoughts, it is important to know you have control over which thoughts you give your attention to. The thoughts that you focus on grow that type of energy in your being, positive, negative, or neutral. Be mindful of choosing thoughts that enhance wellbeing and peace of mind.

The following are some thoughts that are helpful to focus on:

  • I just have to be in this moment. I can handle all that life brings me one moment at a time.
  • I trust in life’s process. I do not have to control the outcome.
  • I take time to breathe in peace throughout the day.
  • I focus on doing one thing at a time.
  • I breathe out all negative thoughts. They are just energy.

Intentionally thinking thoughts that calm your mind will lead to a less-stressed state of being. As you pursue peace of mind each day you will begin to respond peacefully to situations that formerly invoked a stressful reaction.

There are many benefits to having a calm mind:

  • Emotional control independent of surrounding circumstances
  • An antidote to stress and anxiety
  • More patience, tolerance and tact.
  • Mental health and emotional wellbeing
  • The ability to fall asleep easily and sleep soundly
  • Clearer thinking and judgment

Peace of mind can be attained by anyone who takes time each day to practice mentally calming activities. There is a well of peace within you. One way to connect to this peace is through focusing on letting your body breathe all on its own, without any assistance from you. I call this ‘sleep breathing.’ This is the way your body breathes for you when you are asleep. This creates the ‘wakeful rest state’ which allows your breathing to be dominant, while your thoughts become less dominant.

Invite peace of mind to be a way of life for you and become a master at managing stress.

Written by: Elisabeth Davies, MC

Author of Good Things Emotional Healing Journal: Addiction

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Anyone who has struggled with impulsive thoughts or compulsive behaviors can relate to the pandemonium that can go on in one’s mind. Impulsive thoughts are persistent or repetitive ideas or images that are experienced as intrusive or inappropriate and that cause mental distress. Compulsive behaviors are repetitive behaviors that a person feels driven to participate with as an attempt to decrease the impulsive thoughts and mental distress.

An effective technique that I use with clients who want to manage impulsive thoughts and compulsive behaviors is Guided Imagery. Guided Imagery helps clients reach a relaxed, focused state so that they can harness the power of their mind to bring about positive change.

Some other benefits to Guided Imagery include:

  • Relaxing the body quickly to provide significant stress reduction *
  • Allowing deeper levels of insight and wisdom held on a subconscious level
  • Using the power of the mind to influence the body’s functioning as a tool for self-healing **
  • Elevating  mood, by decreasing depression, fatigue, stress and mood disturbance ***

I was conducting a guided imagery technique at a workshop for compulsive overeaters several months ago, to help them connect to the subconscious beliefs that keep their compulsive behavior in place. I asked the attendees if they wanted to share any information they received after doing the guided imagery exercise. One woman shared, ‘The image that I got from this exercise was me standing at the kitchen counter eating as my parents were fighting in the background.’ A situation she had no control over as a young girl. It never occurred to her that she could leave, so she would use food to stuff down feelings that were not safe to express in her chaotic home. Another woman shared a similar image that came up for her. When she was a young girl, her mom and stepdad would fight at the kitchen table during dinner, completely ignoring how upset she was by the arguing. She would overeat and stuff down the feelings of being in a chaotic situation she had no control over.

Often times when we feel a situation we are experiencing is chaotic or not in our control, we become more vulnerable to impulsive thoughts and unhealthy behaviors as an attempt to distract or cope with a situation we feel unable to resolve.

I conducted a Guided Imagery technique for an addiction workshop I facilitate each week with attendees who compulsively use alcohol or drugs to cope with the chaos in their minds or lives. Afterwards the attendees reported being able to identify stored emotions, specifically anger and powerlessness they experienced in situations that were chaotic or abusive growing up. Situations they had no control over and felt unable to leave. During the guided imagery exercise, I asked, ‘What does addiction look like in our being?’ An attendee shared, ‘I was shown an image of what appeared to be a small round ball of chaotic energy bouncing all over, with no order to it.’ Then I asked, ‘What can contain or calm that energy?’ She responded, ‘I saw an image of a hand of peace cupping it. When the image of the ball of chaotic energy was contained in the cupped hand of peace it stopped bouncing.’ Peace is a state of harmony and order and freedom from mental disturbance. Each person who participates in Guided Imagery perceives images that are unique to them.

Here is an effective technique to practice, when your thoughts or circumstances are chaotic:

Start with 60 seconds of a ‘Sleep Breathing’ technique to decrease tension and drive in your being.  ‘Sleep Breathing’ calms racing thoughts, decreases our nervous system activity, and restores internal stability and psychological equilibrium to our being. ‘Sleep Breathing’ is how our body breathes for us when we are asleep. You can practice this technique with your eyes open or closed. Closing your eyes helps shut out the visual stimulus around you. I suggest you do this sitting down, in a quiet place without any distractions. If you are at work, you can go to a bathroom, a stairwell, an empty office or your car. Bring your full attention to your breathing. Let your body breathe all on its own, with no assistance from you at all. Within several seconds you will notice your muscles relax. As your breathing resets to its natural breathing pattern, your thoughts become less dominant and your nervous system activity calms. Having your mind focus on how your body breathes all on its own is also a way to prepare you for Guided Imagery.

Whenever your thoughts or situation feel chaotic during the day, say to yourself, ‘You don’t have to stay in chaos.’  Take in a deep breath and say in your mind, ’breathing in peace.’ When you exhale imagine peace expanding throughout your entire being. Do this deep breathing for several seconds, until peace calms chaos.

Written by Elisabeth Davies, MC

Author of Good Things Emotional Healing Journal: Addiction- Effective Strategies to Manage Unwanted Habits and Compulsive Behaviors

*Elizabeth Scott, MS 10-10-2007 http://stress.about..com/od/generaltechniques/p/profileimagery.htm

**Chris Dinesen Rogers June 16-2010 http://www.livestrrong.com/article/150430-benefits-of-guided-imagery/

***http://stason.org/TULARC/health/alternative-medicine/Guided-Imagery-Health-Benefits.html

Good Things Emotional Healing

Believe in Miracles

Early in 2008 I was getting the message through prayer and meditation that God wanted me to be a writer. I had no experience as a writer and knew nothing about the writing/publishing industry. So… I ignored the calling to be a writer, by justifying that I had a successful career as a counselor and I had no experience as a writer.
That year, for the first time in my 19 year career as a counselor, I received a complaint from my licensing board, one of my contracted insurance companies was not paying me for seeing their clients, and my expenses were quickly increasing, because I had to hire a lawyer and a contracted supervisor to help me problem solve these issues. As it became more stressful for me to continue at my private practice, it began to occur to me that the only way God could make me become a writer, was by making it very difficult for me to stay at my private practice, and this was exactly what was happening.
In September 2008 I retired my professional counseling license and began to write. I started ‘sitting for guidance’ each day, and asking God why he wanted me to be a writer and what he wanted me to write about. He let me know that my writing would bless many and he gave me 16 different subjects to write about. He gave me signs in my dreams that the path would be clear for me to do this work and he would remove all obstacles if I would write. I wrote all these things down, so that when I had doubts about writing, I could be reminded that writing was what I was supposed to be doing.
I finished writing my first book, Good Things Emotional Healing Journal~ Addiction in 2009.
I did not know any editors, illustrators or publishers to send my book to, so I asked God to help me find the people he wanted my book to go to. My webmaster told me about an editor he knew, so I called her. When she told me how much she charged, I told her I could not afford her services, because I was receiving no income by writing. She ended up negotiating with me for a small amount and a back end of the book sales.
I began looking for illustrators on-line and there were so many amazing ones, I didn’t know who to choose. I asked God to help me find the illustrator that he wanted to illustrate my book. He gave me the name ‘Bryan Mouse.’ I googled it. There was 1 person with that name, and one link that said “Bryan of Tenacious Mouse…” I contacted both of these people, whom I never met and asked them if they happened to be illustrators. Bryan, of Tenacious Mouse contacted me from the Yukon and said he had done some illustrations and he was interested in illustrating my book. His fees were also more than I could afford, but he was willing to negotiate for a small amount and back end of the book sales, once the book was published.
Now I was ready to send my edited and partially illustrated manuscript to a publisher! But who?
I joined some writers/authors groups on LinkedIn, in hopes of getting information from other published authors, on how to go about finding the right publisher for my book. I was encouraged to get a literary agent, since I was a first time, unknown author. I ended up e-mailing a few, and Meg McAllister who I never met before ended up giving me a call. She offered me suggestions for a query letter as well as a publisher. I took her advice and sent my manuscript to Morgan James Publishing. I got a call from David Hancock, the founder of the publishing company, saying he loved my book and was going to accept it! He also let me know that he received about 5,000 manuscripts a year and only publishes about 134.
I am still in awe of how this whole process turned out and how I was led to all the right people 🙂
I got my first copy of ‘Good Things Emotional Healing Journal~Addiction in the mail two days ago. I dedicated it to God, so that it goes to all the people who will be blessed and helped by its content.
“Make me understand what you want; for then I shall see your miracles.” Psalms 119:27

Written by Elisabeth Davies, MC
http://www.BrightAlternatives.com

I have a client who I am currently working with, who after several months of trying to put his finger on why he keeps relapsing on percocet, came to his aaha moment.
One of the questions I asked him during our session, was ‘What does percocet give you relief from, that you can’t seem to find in a healthier way?’
He replied, “It shuts off the voice in my head that says ‘use’ and it calms me down.”
I did a 30 minute guided imagery technique with him, so he could gain more conscious awareness of his addiction to percocet. Once he was in a ‘sleep breathing’ state, one of the questions I asked him, was “Where in your being do you hold your addiction to percocet?”
He softly replied, ‘In my arms.’
I asked him to take a closer look at his percocet addiction, with his mind’s eye and notice if it had a shape, color, weight or any defining qualities.
He said his addiction was ‘dark and heavy.’
I asked him to visualize a strong magnetic field about 3 to 4 feet in front of him. I had him imagine breathing out the percocet addiction energy, with each exhale, until it was all on the magnetic field in front of him, so that he was aware of a space between himself and the addiction.
I asked him to have a dialogue with this addictive energy, by asking questions like, “What keeps you in my being?” and “What can I say or do that would release you from my being?”
I said, “When you feel like you receive the information you need, go ahead and say ‘ok.’
When he was finished, I had him write down what had occurred for him, during this experience.
I asked him if there was anything he wanted to share with me.
He said, “I need more peace of mind and percocet is the only thing I know that gives me relief from my thoughts.”
Bingo! The aaha moment was reached
Many times we relapse with an unhealthy habit or substance in an effort to seek relief from our negative or overwhelming thoughts.

Some healthy ways to pursue more peace of mind are:
* Doing a meditation
* Closing your eyes and breathing in
peace with each inhale, for 30-60
seconds
* Breathing out all negativity from
your being, throughout your day
* Doing yoga or holding stretches for
15-30 seconds each
* Listening to relaxation music
* Being in nature and noticing the
beauty
* Sitting in a jacuzzi for 15-20 minutes
* Reading something that is calming
* Saying a prayer
* Taking a break from things that are stressful to you
Doing things each day that add more peace of mind to our being can make us less vulnerable to relapse.
My client told me at the end of his session, “I’m going to stay sober.”
Yeah!
written by Elisabeth Davies, MC
http://www.brightalternatives.com

It is human to desire pleasure. If we were to abstain from all pleasurable activities, life would become ungratifying and reward less. Pleasurable substances and activities offer us a relief from stress and life’s difficulties. The key is to moderate our participation with pleasurable substances and activities so that we are not causing harm to ourselves or others.
It is easy to become addicted to things that are physically or mentally pleasurable, like food, sex, enjoyable substances, exciting activities, stimulating fantasy thoughts, etc. When we participate with pleasurable activities, our brain releases a chemical called Dopamine. Our brain remembers this pleasurable feeling and wants more and more. If we continue participating with a substance or activity to a level that causes negative consequences for us, an addiction forms.
Our negative consequences could be:
*Financial, from excessive spending, gambling, shopping etc.
*Physical, such as obesity from overeating, lung problems from too much smoking, health problems from too much alcohol and drugs etc.
*Emotional, from impulsive or self-degrading thoughts. Self-destructive choices due to feeling unloveable, or unworthy of happiness etc.
*Relationship based, from sexual misconduct, self-centered choices, dishonesty or isolating, etc.
If we are told and come to believe that we are powerless over our addiction, then our belief can help create that reality.
Powerless means ‘Lacking power to act; helpless’. You always have the power to act in a non-destructive way. You are not helpless to make a healthy choice, instead of a harmful one.
We were born with free will, which means voluntary decision. This indicates we are free to decide what substances or habits we will or will not participate with.
Addictions are often used as an attempt to cope or distract from uncomfortable feelings that arise from past childhood abuse, anxiety, depression and unhealed hurts. Not everybody wants to give up their addiction, because they may not have found something better, that can replace the relief or pleasure they still get from participating with their substance or habit.
For people who do want to manage their addiction and choose a healthy lifestyle, with fewer negative consequences, addiction is treatable. Recovery is always a choice that you have the power to make!
Some treatment options include:
* Individual counseling. Psychology Today has lists of thousands of qualified professionals http://www.psychologytoday.com
* Support groups that encourage addiction free lifestyles. This could be a 12 step group http://www.12stepgroups.com
* Spiritual support through Church, meditation, yoga, God, nature etc.
* Reading books and articles that offer strategies and helpful information for addiction free-living http://www.amazon.com/Books-about-Addiction/lm/2BCO53ZEZV1JB
* Addiction free help lines
http://www.freeaddictionhelpline.com
http://hubpages.com/hub/How-to-Live-Addiction-Free
* Inpatient treatment facilities for addiction:
http://findtreatment.samhsa.gov
It is important that every addict know that they are loved and have value as a human being.

Written by Elisabeth Davies, MC
http://www.brightalternatives.com
Elisabeth would love for you to join her addiction Facebook page
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Elisabeth-Davies-MC/168307950101?v=wall&ref=pdem

Yesterday, I went for a jog to de-stress from  all the bills I have to pay this month. I was trying to brainstorm about some possible solutions to increase my income, ASAP.  I am aware that stressing out about bills is NOT a solution to increasing my income, apparently jogging doesn’t help pay the bills either!

As I was running, the concept of ‘perseverance’ kept coming to mind. I was reminded about a time back in 1993 when I was starting my private practice. I remember on the way home from work one night thinking, ‘What the hell am I doing? I can’t even pay my bills in this career. I go to school to get a Master’s degree in Counseling, and I made more money waitressing with no education!”

Fortunately, I stuck with being a counselor, because I loved it and I knew I didn’t want to be a waitress my whole life. Looking back, all my basic needs of food, shelter and clothing were still met the first several years of building a practice. As I stayed the course in spite of financial difficulties, obstacles and doubts, my practice grew and with that my income grew. Fifteen years later, I had a couple of offices, several employees and so many clients, I was booked out for six weeks at a time!

Now, two years into a new writing career that I love, I was hearing those same old thoughts from 1993 in my head. 

I began to recall many of the important things I have in my life today. I have them because I persevered through the doubt, through the financial insecurity, through the unknown.

Take time to look back at your own successes, whether it was completing school, or having a long-term relationship, or raising children or purchasing a home, or managing an illness, or moving up in your career, etc. Note how perseverance played a significant role. Also , think back on times when you did not persevere through difficulties. What was the outcome?

Here are some  tips that are helpful in persevering:

  • Write down your goals and put them where, you can read them everyday. Visualize the outcome.
  • When you have disappointing outcomes, find solutions, rather than surrendering to defeat.
  • Know that all of our successes happen because of the time and energy we put into them.
  • Timing isn’t always up to us. Be patient.
  • Verbally tell people what your goal is so you can be accountable.
  • Work on your goal several days a week, so that you have continuous movement toward progress.
  • De-stress to clear your mind and gain perspective.
  • Continue to educate yourself and increase your skills that are specific to succeeding with your goal.
  • Don’t allow outward conditions to shift you from doing your souls purpose.
  • Encourage yourself, encourage yourself, encourage yourself!
“If you wish success in life, make perseverance your bosom friend.”
                                                                                                                        – Joseph Addison

Please feel free to share your perseverance stories with me and others to inspire and encourage us in staying the course during life’s obstacles. Your perseverance will pay off!

 

written with perseverance by Elisabeth Davies, MC

www.brightalternatives.com

 We all have a basic human emotional need to be loved by someone. When someone truly loves us, we will feel wanted and valuable to them. If we were raised in a home with a parent or caretaker that did not make us feel wanted or valuable, we are inclined to attract relationships with  ‘love addiction’ qualities, rather than true loving qualities.

I first learned about  ‘love addiction’ years ago, when a therapist recommended I read a book called Facing Love Addiction, By Pia Melody. I knew it was common for people to be addicted to substances or unwanted habits. I hadn’t thought about someone actually being addicted to a distorted belief. Love addiction is a distorted belief that the person we love, loves us back, even though there is a lack of evidence to prove this.

So, what is the proof that we are in a relationship with true loving qualities?

Well, the first sign that it is real love, is that our relationship lasts. Real love perseveres through difficulty. If you truly love someone, you will maintain a long- term and often times, a life-long relationship with them. If your relationship is based on love addiction, the relationship will not last, because love addicts are in relationships to use other people to fulfill their own needs. As soon as their needs are not getting fulfilled, they will look for the next relationship to do this.

Another sign that you are in a relationship based on real love, is that real love is not self-seeking and looks for ways to enhance the relationship, by making choices that will benefit cohesiveness in the relationship. A love addict participates in relationships based on, what they can get from the relationship. They make choices that benefit themselves, regardless of the impact it has on the relationship.

Believing that another person can complete us, makes us prone to love addiction, because we are looking for something outside of ourselves to make us feel better, or fill a void. Real love comes from God and that is the only love that can complete us. Once we invite that love to live inside of us, we can unconditionally love ourselves, then we can offer real love in our relationships with others. Even to those who do not love us back.

God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. 1 John 4:16

I used to think that love was an emotion or feeling. Love is an action. We can demonstrate love, by being patient;  kind, by not bein jealous or boastful;  by not being arrogant or rude,  by not being self-seeking, by not being easily angered, by forgiving, by protecting,  by trusting, hoping, and always persevering  (1 Corinthians 13:4-8).  These are the actions we will be showing to ourselves and to others when we are demonstrating real love, in action.

If you find your self attracting short-term relationships with people who are not demonstrating loving qualities, or you are the one who goes from relationship to relationship, when you are not fulfilled, it is likely that your beliefs about love are distorted.

Some helpful things in healing from love addiction are; 1. Knowing that we are loveable, and we do not need another human being  to validate that truth for us. 2. Knowing that we already are complete and we do not need another human being to complete us. 3. Learning to unconditionally love ourself, by continually affirming our value and not judging ourself for not being able to do things perfectly. 4. Educating ourself about what real love is by reading or seeking true information. 5. Challenging and questioning what we were raised to believe about real love, by using the above qualities as a guide to how we are acting in our relationships.

Here are some resources to learn more about love and love addiction:

www.thelovefoundation.com/unconditional_love.htm

www.psychologytoday.com/articles/200212/the-power-love

www.healthylovingrelationships.com/resources

Melody, Pia, wells, Andrea, Wells, J.Keith. Facing Love Addiction. San Francisco: Harper 1992

Williamson, Marianne. A Return to Love. New York: Harper Collins, 1992

This article was lovingly written by Elisabeth Davies, MC

www.brightalternatives.com where you can view loving affirmation for free!