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    justkeepswimming
    Participant

    Hey there!

    I have been in therapy for a few years now. B”H I am good at identifying my triggers. I have even learned tremendous skills like journaling, meditating and healing to deal with tough emotions and situations.

    However, I always find that my natural is to run to my (unhealthy) escapes before doing any of the productive things I have mentioned. [And, they always end up causing more stress and anxiety…] It is almost hard for me to get myself to use one of my healthy techniques. I have to yank myself away from my vices and force myself to do one of my proper releases.

    Any insight as to why this is? Does anyone else have similar feelings? And what to do to help combat this?

    Thanks!

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    Dana Rosenberg
    Participant

    Hi,

    This post is great! You just described beautifully the process of growth any normal person goes through!

    Since we’re young, our brain develops ‘pathways’ of behavior that feels comfortable for us. Any time a trigger comes up we will automatically follow that same pathway…unless we take the bull the horns and decide that that particular pathway does not work well for us and we’d like to change it. The first step to doing that is awareness. The next step is to reach out and learn new/better behaviors. This can be through research, therapy, and or good role models. After that, we are ready to practice those new behaviors-exactly what you are doing. Remember, however, that you have been reacting in certain ways for most of your life already-which means that it will take many, many occasions of practice until you begin to feel that the new behavior becomes second nature. Each time you do the new behavior is a great success as you are forging a new, better neural pathway in your brain.

    So keep up your terrific work! And more importantly, don’t give up! Be kind to yourself when you fail because growth is never a linear process-it comes with many ups and downs. Good luck on your journey-and remember it will get easier!

    Dana Rosenberg MSed Enneagram Life Coach

    Hi JustKeepSwimming,

    I appreciate your question, as this is a really normal human experience in trauma therapy. Many people think that healing is a linear process. However, I like the metaphor of a spiral staircase. We don’t usually start at the beginning and push through until the end. The journey can be seen as more of a cyclical one, that lifts us upwards as we go. However, we are sometimes on a landing (plateau) or sometimes we look down as we are on the upward sweep and feel dizzy…..or we stand at the bottom and look up as to how far we have still left to go. Each turn of the staircase brings us more growth but also can leave us longing for the bottom of the staircase when we were on firm ground.

     

    My point here is the one Dan Seigal continually points out in his work on neurobiology. Our brain has neural pathways – significantly wired into our subconscious – that when triggered, remind us or pull us back into pleasure-seeking behaviors that were once were effective in blocking out pain. As Dana wrote above, there are many practical things to do for this including not giving up hope, practicing new behaviors, attending a 12-step group, etc. From an EMDR perspective, there are some excellent protocols that I have used with clients that specifically target the urge for a certain behavior or a certain person. They can be very helpful in re-writing the neural pathways of the brain and helping you in your quest to give up the behaviors you mentioned.

     

    Please feel free to contact me for more information. Best of luck!

     

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    justkeepswimming
    Participant
    Topic Author

    In response to Zipa Leah Scheinberg, LCSW's post #14264:

    Sure! Thank you so much, I appreciate all the help I can get!

    What is the best way to reach out to you?

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