Our subconscious minds store our emotional information and memory, including our fears, the pain we’ve held onto from trauma, the grief we carry from loss. Even when we consciously want to be free of these things in order to be happy, our subconscious mind, which directs the majority of our thoughts, is holding onto them and not allowing us to release them. In order to heal, we have to reprogram our subconscious minds and create new thought patterns that serve us in our recovery.
One thought pattern many of us have developed over the years is the mental habit of holding onto our pain. We cling to it. We don’t want to let ourselves forget it. We replay painful memories over and over. We ruminate on our pain and have nightmares about it. In a way we feel safer knowing it’s close by. Maybe we think that in letting it go we will be giving something up – the chance to feel vindicated by the person who hurt us, the chance to speak our mind, or the chance to have closure. For whatever reason, we mentally and emotionally hold onto our pain and keep it close to us. We have a strong attachment to it.
We can develop new thought patterns that encourage us to let our pain go. We can tell ourselves things like, “It’s ok for me to let this go now. It’s safe for me to release it. I can move forward. I can create new, happier memories. I can have new, wonderful experiences.” The more we practice intentionally thinking thoughts like these and the more we repeat these new thought patterns, the more we imprint them onto our subconscious mind, which will then direct our conscious mind in those more positive directions.
Another common thought habit along with holding onto our pain is to focus on the negative – the causes for concern, the worst-case scenarios, the reasons why we don’t like something or someone, all the reasons why something might go wrong, all the ways in which something is bad or wrong. We can start to form new thought patterns to create entirely new perspectives. It is possible to develop a new outlook. “I choose to focus on the good. I look for the good in everything. I focus on joy. I have faith. I am filled with gratitude.”
Treatment at Riverside includes mindfulness-based relapse prevention, an important part of helping ourselves reach our recovery goals. Call (800) 871-5440 for more information.