Much of the success that comes with recovering from an addiction is contributed to willpower. Those with little or no willpower are essentially powerless when it comes to having the necessary tools to even show up to the fight.
One way to feed and build a weak system of willpower is to feed it by using your senses.
Let’s break it down.
Let’s begin with mantras, or positive self-talk. Mantras reinforce positive beliefs – they help you to engage and welcome the possibility of a new you.
This idea goes back to the belief of “you are what you think” or “if you think it long enough you will become it”. Both statements lend to keeping a positive mindset. Thought is a very important part of mantras, but the faith and belief in what you are saying is also important.
Let’s take a step back and define the term “mantra”. A mantra can be described as a sound or word that is used to aid in meditation. The origin of the term is rooted to Hinduism and Buddhism culture; specifically purposed for meditation.
Mantras are no different from what western culture defines as positive self-talk. Both are used as methods/techniques to train your brain and subconscious mind.
I don’t believe we fully understand the power of our thoughts, and the impact of having faith, a posive mind-set can have on our lives. We will start with a few mantras below to get started. You may change the mantras below to make more sense for your situation
- I am a new person that does not seek to gamble.
- I am a strong-minded person and will not gamble.
- Spending money in a casino is not helping my life in any way and I only seek to enhance my life.
- My family and friends are more important than gambling.
With mantras, repetition is key. You will want to sit in a quiet space and repeat the mantra at a steady pace for a time span of approximately 10 minutes. Another way to utilize a mantra is to repeat the mantra when you feel the urge to gamble.
The other part of mantras is visualization. You should always visualize yourself in your new life. Think about how you would feel as the person that does not gamble. Think about the amount of money you have wasted in gambling, then think about the things you could have done. Imaging how you would feel if you had done those things you missed the chance to do due to your gambling.
You can also think about the things you could have done with your time if it were not for gambling. For instance, if you are missing spending time with your family, envision what it would feel like to have spent the lost time with your children or your spouse. Think about the joy it would bring to have spent the time, and the smiles on your lived one’s faces.
Another very effective visualization is that one that includes your family members. Try visualizing your children watching you pull the handle on the slot, or see you at the poker table, ignoring them as though they are not there. Also, try visualizing your children’s (or loved one’s) faces on the reels of the slot machine. This works very well for me when I get the urge to go to a casino!
Next, try writing about the new you in a journal. Since we all gravitate to certain ways of making things real and our lives writing is a good way to get started. In writing, express the feelings you have after gambling. Generally, we feel like crap after gambling – especially if you lost. Try capturing that feeling in your writing.
Next, write about the impact of your actions. Who are you hurting by gambling? What is the impact of your decisions? Think about the financial, social, and health related impacts.
Last, write about the new you. Write about all the things you could have done with the wasted time and money, and where your life would be if you had not made poor decisions related to gambling.
In this last writing segment, tell the complete story about who you are without gambling. What kind of person are you? What types of things do you do in your spare time? What do you do with your resources? How do you feel? As you are writing, really try to visualize the new you.
The last effective piece to change is to act out, or become, the new you. Go to the places you visualize as part of the new you. This will allow you to utilize your other senses such as smell, taste and sound. By actually visiting places visualized, you are taking steps to make the new you a reality.
The goal in changing through your senses is to create a new you in your mind. Do this through mantras, visualization, writing and becoming.
As always, I believe it is important to also utilize external resources (outside of self), like counseling, friends or groups, that can offer support and encouragement. However, change will ultimately begin and end with you.