Recently during a conversation I had, I brought up the analogy that I have used many times to explain emotional drifting. And how change is dependent on our effort and intention.
The analogy that I have used often to demonstrate emotional drifting is that of a cart being pulled along by a horse. And this horse and cart have traveled the same path many times before. As a result, there are ruts dug into the earth.
I imagine this horse pulling the cart up this path. The horse is in his rut, and each cartwheel is in their own rut. The ruts are deep, worn and well defined.
Often when I start this analogy people look at me like I’ve finally gone off the deep end.
But what these ruts represent are our emotional conditioning. Imagine these ruts were created by our emotions. Over and over again our emotions have taken us down the same path. And due to our emotions falling into this conditioning, we continue to follow these ruts.
Now imagine that this path is life itself. We have to walk this path, as there are no other options for us to take. So if we walk down this path without paying attention to where we are stepping, where do you think we would end up? If you said in the ruts, you would be correct.
This to me is a perfect analogy for demonstrating how our emotional drifting will continue to pull us into the same ruts.
I have often spoken about emotional drifting compared to intellectually living. And this is very important for creating a change of any kind within our lives. Emotionally we will continue to follow the same ruts. Therefore, in order to create any kind of change, we have to pay attention to our actions and deliberately create the change we seek. This is the definition of intellectually living.
Our lives are created by what we think, what we say and what we do. Creating new conditioning in any area of our lives will require us to literally put into action the change we seek. We cannot sit back and do nothing in hopes that things will change on their own. As nice as this would be, it doesn’t work this way. We have to create a new conditioning and responses to our triggers; essentially creating new ruts, in order for us to create change.
When I first began recovery, one of the first things I did was to change how I went through my daily schedule.
One of the most profound things I did was to stop hitting the snooze button on my alarm clock. Before I started working on recovery, the alarm would go off and I would hit the snooze button two or three times. During this time I stayed in bed awake all I did was fuel my anxiety. I ran through a list of “what if’s” so that by the time I did get out of bed, I had enough anxiety to last me the day.
So eliminating the opportunity to allow my imagination to run unchecked was extremely beneficial.
The other enormous benefit I received from this change in my behavior was that it helped me approach the day proactively. I purposely jumped out of bed when the alarm went off, and that intention carried over into my entire morning routine.
The benefits I received from this slight change in my behavior were not realized until years later. But looking back, it was this change, as well as other similar changes that created the foundation for my recovery today.
But it goes back to changing our behavior. My mornings were no longer spent walking aimlessly in my emotional ruts. But rather I was intentionally and intellectually forging a new behavior that was not dictated by my emotions. In short, I was creating recovery!
I urge you to take a look at your own conditioned behavior. Make slight changes in your daily routine. Remember, “small, manageable steps”. It’s not how much you can change quickly that will make a difference, but rather a duration of time keeping to it. Daily, consistent effort is how we create change.
Practice your tools. Implement self-care. Keep your recovery a priority in your life.
Never give up! Persistence!
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