Excerpt from: Who’s REALLY Driving Your Bus? By James O. Henman, Ph.D., Psychological Associates Press, 2003, p. 154. www.CAIRforYou.com
Nugget: We Become Addicted To The Familiar
The patterns that may have worked OK for surviving are often dysfunctional for healthy living. As you look at some of the dysfunctional patterns in your life today, can you begin to see how these patterns formed? This is not an attempt to justify, blame or defend the dysfunctional patterns, but rather helps you approach your change process more respectfully and successfully. Share in your journal reactions to this concept of addiction to the familiar.
Do you notice patterns in your life that fit this dynamic? What is it like for you to respect your dysfunctional patterns for helping you survive at a time in your past? What is it like to feel good about noticing painful patterns as the first step in the process of healthy change? Notice any resistance that comes as you begin to look at these patterns differently.
The CAIR Handbook states that “We make predictions about who we are and how we will respond based on our self-image. As long as we don’t change, there is no problem. But when we begin to make changes in our recovery, the tension that develops between our old self-image, and our new behaviors, is like pulling on a rubber band. Even slight change in our behavior from the usual patterns creates tension if it is beyond a narrow range. This degree of change is called our ‘comfort zone.’ (Stop and discuss)”
Our comfort zone is often anything but comfortable! It simply means it is familiar and reflects our self-image. The tensions that come from moving out of your comfort zone are the same whether the changes are positive or negative. I will help you learn to change the setting on your self-image thermostat in a way that does not create tension.
Consider something you would like to be able to do more comfortably, or maybe an addictive pattern you would like to reduce. See a movie screen with a vertical line in the middle, separating it into two sides. This tool is called the Split-Screen Technique. Make the size and distance of the screen comfortable for you to see accurately, without judging. Pick a scene you would like to change.
Put this picture on the left side of the Split-Screen – your Old Program view. On the right side, let yourself picture how you would like it to be becoming in the present. What would you like to see on the right side of the screen? Since you can’t really change others directly, how do you want to be feeling/behaving differently in this situation?
Many clients get stuck demanding that the others in the situation be different. Do you fall into this trap? When you have to really think about how you want to be different, are you often blank? Are you able to picture your goals clearly? If not, feel good about noticing that you can’t picture it, and begin considering the question now. Jot down elements of how you want to be different in your journal. Keep building on, and fine tuning the right side of your Split-Screen.
I will often work directly on building the right side picture, teaching clients how to do this in future situations. Most people don’t realize they can learn to do this, once they stop judging and feeling ashamed, and allow themselves to do it imperfectly.
Once you can see the Split-Screen clearly, both the left (Old Program) side and the right (New Program) side of the screen, go into the left side and experience noticing what assumptions and beliefs you are bringing into the situation. In what ways are you being like Little John, scaring yourself into feeling defeated? Feel good about noticing the thoughts and images that are associated with the unwanted feelings as the first step in the change process. What are you saying to yourself, what are you picturing in your mind on the left side? Come out of the left side, and go into the right side of the Split-Screen.
Begin to notice the perceptions/assumptions/beliefs that are associated with the desired experience on the right side of the screen. Is there more truth/accuracy on the left side or the right? Remember that change is an imperfect process of steps forward and backward. Believing that your identity is “becoming” is a key to quality living.
Take the time to experience believing in your ability to see more accurately while in difficult life situations. I usually have the client picture on the right side what they have been able to do at least once, at least a little, and own the truth of that experience. It can be something they have seen someone else do, and feel they can do too. I also help them build new images of themselves for the right side of the screen. You may find that helpful.
Experience being in the situation on the right side of your Split-Screen, as if it were happening right now (positive use of the Time Machine). Notice what it is like to believe your right side experience. As you begin owning it, you can move the setting of your Self-Image Thermostat. You can start to clean your perceptual filters toward 20/20 vision, noticing “Nuggets” in the situation. You can learn to apply New Program imperfectly. Focus deeply so your changes can be experienced at the level of your core self-image.
Continue to respectfully notice your resistances to believing yourself on the right side of the screen. Experiencing your resistances helps you stay in healthy relationship with your kids inside, and with your Higher Power, because most of your resistance will come from one or the other. Practice this Split-Screen exercise to help move your comfort zone in a healthy direction with your Self-Image Thermostat. There will be more about the Self-Image Thermostat later in the book.