Thursday, February 20, 2014

Clarification, and Thought-Stopping.

Occasionally I will receive comments which quote literature other than our conference-approved literature.  When I created this blog, I decided to keep it strictly Al-Anon related. For this reason, if you quote from a book which is not conference-approved literature, I will regretfully delete your comment. I do, however, invite you to comment in your own words, and I appreciate all who take the time and effort to respond to any of my writings.

On to my other topic: thought-stopping. This was explained to me when I was new to program, as a way to keep myself off the gerbil wheel of obsession. In order for it to work, I needed to be conscious of my internal dialogue. That took me a long while to achieve, because I'd get started trying to pay attention to my thoughts, and would manage for short stretches, until one powerful surge of feeling accompanying a thought would sweep me along, sometimes for a few minutes, sometimes for hours at a time. When I finally surfaced, gasping and spluttering with the realisation that I'd been submerged in one of my obsessions, roiling and spinning wildly with the force of the emotions that were such a part of them, I'd start again to try to listen to the madness that was such a constant backdrop to my days. The madness inside my own head.

I learned that I needed to stop the thought before it got a chance to take hold of me. This required that I be aware of what were my triggering thoughts. I discovered that they usually began with "He shouldn't" or "she shouldn't" or "they don't" or some such judgement. I learned that I needed to stop at that precise moment, turn my thoughts firmly towards something which gave me pleasure, whether that be sewing, painting, gardening, the book I was reading at the time, my dog, a fun time with a friend, nature, whatever it was that I enjoyed in my life, and force myself to think about that instead.

I'm deeply grateful for having learned this skill so many years ago, it has served me well with my recent experience with cancer. I received a call yesterday that I need to go for testing on April 2, to see if they can detect any signs of recurrence. Without the skill of thought-stopping, the intervening time would have been filled with fear and worry.

Being able to decide that I am powerless, and don't want to go quietly mad with worry and fear of what might be, allows me to live from now until April 2nd, and enjoy my life with Al-Anon friends, and my beloved Robert. I'm so grateful for this wonderful program.


  1. This is a great topic--one of the first things I learned in Al-Anon. I learned to turn my thoughts away from my obsession with a family member as soon as I thought of her. It's a good reminder for today, because I am again obsessing about things I have no control over, and at the same time, feeling a little guilty that my life is OK. Thank you again for writing this blog!

  2. If I am firmly in steps 2 and 3, then I can overcome the worry that was so debilitating for me. I take things much easier now. Glad that you are doing well.