Five (5) Ways To Unstick Addictions

December 18, 2018 | By More

I’m going to show five ways to interrupt and to overcome cravings, whatever they may be. The first one is bilateral stimulation.  This technique involves stimulating both sides of the brain to stop anxiety.  I tend to think that when people are addicted to things it’s because cravings seem to act like anxiety in the brain. This is a very simple technique to use. So what I ask you to do is imagine that anxiety, that craving is there, notice where it is in your body and rate it on a scale of 1 to 10. Now simply pass a water bottle, a ball, your cell phone, any object, back and forth, hand to hand, making sure that your hands cross the mid-line point. What you’re doing here is stimulating both hemispheres of the brain. Check in with yourself after a few seconds, 30 seconds, a minute of doing this, then take a deep breath, notice what happens. You’ll notice that the anxiety or the craving has dissipated, maybe completely or maybe significantly. This is because both hemispheres of the brain have been activated and are spreading blood and electrical impulses throughout the body.  This actually floods your association and diffuses it. That’s why it works. And shout out to Melissa Tiers, author of “Integrative Hypnosis”, where I get many of these techniques today.  I recently took a course from her. 

Another one is peripheral vision or stop the world. Pick a point in front of you to stare at. Slowly begin to expand your peripheral vision to include all the spaces around that spot. Now expand your vision even further to the sides, all the way to the ceiling and down to the floor. Expand it even more allowing your visual field to open so you can imagine almost becoming aware of the space behind you, 180 degrees to 360 degrees. This might feel a bit strange at first, but by practicing this a few times, you will notice a general calm coming out of your mind and body as you realize your internal dialogue, i.e. that chatter inside you has stopped. Sometimes just knowing that you can press the pause button on the cravings by stopping the self-talk that keeps it going, as well as the anxiety that leads to it, is a pattern interrupt that often shifts you out of the, “I’ve got to have this now state.” There’s an interesting thing about going into peripheral vision as I’ve talked about in another article or the learning state as they call it -NLP – or in the  Hawaiian spirituality of Huna, is when you put your awareness completely outside of yourself – it’s impossible to have a negative emotion. Now shoot back in and go into peripheral vision that is focusing on that one spot shooting back into your brain. You can feel negativity all you want. But truly when your awareness is outside and you’ve expanded your awareness, you can’t feel a negative emotion, i.e. you can’t feel a craving or anxiety. Pause this podcast now and test it out.

Welcome back. Next one is heart cohesiveness. This technique is adapted from the work of the HeartMath Institute – this is a group of doctors and psychologists who are studying heart rate cohesiveness and its effect on mental and physical health. It stimulates the vagus nerve to down regulate the system to create a parasympathetic balance. Start by bringing your awareness to your heart, and as you do so imagine breathing in deeply, in and out from your heart. Perhaps hold your hand over your heart to keep your awareness there as you breathe through it. Some people visualize the energy moving through the heart. The heart is the strongest emitter of electro-magnetic energy in the body. By doing this exercise, you begin to train your brain into a cohesive and more relaxed brain wave state. To find out more go to the HeartMath Institute. Now try this. Pause the podcast and come back. 

Welcome back. The next technique I’d like to share with you is a jaw-dropping moment, taking power away from the craving or the anxiety creating a jaw-dropping experience. Take a moment to relax your jaw as much as you can. Loosen it even more and imagine it dropping to the floor. Doing this stimulates the vagus nerve that carries information from the nervous system to the brain, keeping it informed about what the body is doing. When you drop your jaw, you’re stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system to counteract the fight or flight or freeze response.  You are also encouraging the lungs to reach for a nice deep breath, creating a flood of biochemicals associated with the relaxation response. So just relax your jaw, take a deep breath in, pause and count to three and exhale twice as long, through the nose. And when you inhale deeply, put your hand on your belly and feel it rise. This ensures that you’re breathing from your diaphragm. Some people find that by inhaling for a count of four, pausing for three and exhaling for eight, they’re able to keep their mind from ruminating as they allow the relaxation response to cohere with their breathing. This is from Melissa’s own work at the HeartMath Institute. Personally, what I found is what I call the 7/11 breathing – breathing in for a count of 7, and you breathe out for a count of 11. Helps to switch people from sympathetic nervous system, i.e. fight, flight or freeze, into the parasympathetic nervous system, which is a far more a calm, balanced state. But both seem to work. It’s just, that’s my preference. 

And the fifth tool I’d like to share with you today is how to come out of a craving to interrupt that craving addiction pattern by shifting prospectus. Now, as soon as you feel yourself having a craving or anxiety, locate where it is in the body.  As soon as you find it, notice the shape or other qualities that it’s playing out with. If all you do is change the shape and you shrink it down, just notice what happens. Imagine it as a colour, what colour does it feel like?  What colour would feel better? Imagine as you change the colour to one that feels better, that the cravings change into something else. What’s it changed into? Another way of feeling better is to imagine dropping right to the centre of that feeling and breathing through it. Notice what happens as you drop to the centre and ask yourself, if this was a message from my unconscious, what is it? And if there was a lesson here, what can I learn from it?  You could imagine this craving as a pebble, and imagine that pebble amongst many on a wide expansive beach. Now imagine that beach on an island, and that island in an ocean, on a planet, in a galaxy. And notice how you feel now.

So these are five very, very quick tools that you can use to pull you out of addiction, cravings, or anxiety. There’s the bilateral stimulation that again floods both hemispheres of the brain that gives you more balance. There’s peripheral vision, which is stopping the world when you focus on something outside of you, that allows that awareness to go to both sides of view from the top to the bottom of the ceiling and the floor, all the way back to 360 degrees. When you put all your awareness outside, you cannot feel a negative emotion. There’s the heart cohesiveness from the HeartMath Institute where you imagine breathing in through your heart for a count of 7/11. There’s the jaw-dropping moment that’s really simple. But don’t confuse the simplicity of it for its effectiveness. It’s simply dropping your jaw and when you do that, the vagus nerve that sends information from your nervous system to your brain relaxes and takes you from the sympathetic nervous system that is fight, flight or freeze (your unwanted cravings) to a parasympathetic nervous system that is more calm, balanced, relaxed, and more controlled. The final one is the shift in prospectus that is essentially imagining the craving, the addiction, or the pattern. The anxiety is a shape change (fight, flight), the colour, change in the energy, how it feels, and then putting it somewhere else in your body will change that for you.

You can use any or all of these to see which one works for you. So you have more than enough to be getting on with to interrupt those old patterns.

Always Believe,
Luke Michael Howard PhD
Ottawa Clinical Hypnotist

Category: Articles, Self Development

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