Can’t Stop? Maybe It’s Dopamine!

Now you can retrain your brain!

Dopamine makes us excited. It affects the brain processes that control movement, emotional response and aids in the ability to experience pleasure. Most drugs of abuse target the brain’s reward system by flooding the circuit with dopamine. Dopamine is the neurotransmitter that tells the brain, “I have to have this!” It’s what creates the craving experience.
In previous decades, it was believed that dopamine was the “pleasure” neurotransmitter. Current research indicates that subjects respond because of anticipation rather than pleasure. Desire is in the form of expectation.
The motivational system of the brain’s job is to pursue and achieve goals by manipulating our behavior with different degrees of desire. It could be in the form of being impulsive, being compulsive, or having a craving. It’s excitement with the expectation of a reward.

If not controlled what starts out as an impulse can create a strong desire to repeat the experience. There is an association between the behavior and pleasure, numbing or some form of escape from our stress. If repeated soon there is a strong neural pathway and what was an impulse now becomes a compulsion. Ironically, many times the compulsion is not seeking pleasure or escape from the original situation, but the results of the behavior itself. Once compulsion sets in, the striatum is primed and when we are triggered a strong craving takes place and relentlessly moves us toward what now has become an addiction. The excessive use of dopamine in like slamming the gas petal of a car to the floor.

Example
Imagine that a person gets a donut and a cup of coffee every morning on their way to work. As this person gets up for the day, they’re thinking about getting that familiar jolt to get their day going (“What always works?”). The nucleus accumbens is already primed at the thought of their routine morning treat and starts to pump dopamine into the brain. Their mind is full of anticipation. They think about it while they’re getting dressed. The thought of coffee and pastry at the donut shop gets them out the door. Excitement increases and they can taste the maple frosting miles before they reach the drive-up window. They wait in line and wonder what’s taking so long. Their brain is shouting, “I need this donut!” They order and finally get the bag with the donut and the hot cup of coffee with double cream. Before they leave the parking lot, the bag is open, and the donut is already on its way to their mouth. They take a bite. How long did this process last? A couple of seconds. Do they really taste it? Before they know it, the second bite is going down, and the taste is being washed away with coffee. The maple flavor is lost, but they don’t care. It’s about finishing what was started.

The dopamine was not about pleasureit was about anticipation.

It was about the quest to get the object they were longing for. It was about the desire—wanting, not simply liking. Yes, it was originally about liking. Probably the first time they were caught off guard and were lured having the donut because they were hungry. The donut and coffee satisfied the need to be comforted or woke them up and got them ready for work. The calming effect was the result of sugar boosting the amount of serotonin and the energy jolt was the result of coffee boosting adrenaline. It was such pleasant experience it primed their brain to desire this situation again. So now, they wake up and think of the coffee and donut in the morning and that trigger starts the dopamine pumping. The job of dopamine is to get them to the shop.

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter active in our brain’s motivation center and is released when we relate to things we like. The purpose of dopamine is to increase a state of arousal so we can process sensory input faster and sharper. As a motivator, it entices us to come back for more and more. I have to have it! The anticipation is tremendous.

It seems logical that a person bingeing on food, pornography, or drugs has more dopamine receptors than the normal person and, therefore, keeps bingeing. However, that is wrong! Bingeing is due to the opposite. The repeated use of dopamine-producing substances or activities reduces the amount of dopamine, so more substance or a higher activity level is needed to achieve satisfaction. To make matters worse, the prefrontal cortex—the part of the brain responsible for controlling impulses, decision making and exercising judgment—is severely hampered because of the decrease in dopamine. So, we get to a point where we’re doing drugs, watching porn, or binge-eating just because we don’t feel satisfied, which causes our brain to be less likely to exert control over the behavior. A vicious cycle ensues as these individuals consume greater quantities of the object of their craving (e.g., calorie-dense food) to achieve reward and are, at the same time, less able to exert control over their behavior.

Dopamine is not the enemy – We just need to retrain the brain Remember the brain is a learning machine. It learns through association. The limbic system with the amygdala learns what is dangerous and protects us. Unfortunately, not everything we associate with fear is true. (The monster in the basement) So we need to emotionally relearn what is dangerous and what isn’t. It is the same way with the reward system (Mesolimbic pathway). Not everything that has been associated with pleasure that we feel and drives the “I have to have it”, is legitimate.

GOOD NEWS! There are ways that we can overcome an illegitimate dopamine surge.

1. We can combat the dopamine rush by reassessing the reward!

When we are triggered and the dopamine is surging it is pushing us toward a reward. Dopamine did not decide what the reward was. Somewhere we made the association. The good news is we can choose again. Rewards are powerful. For example, they did a study at Stanford, where they took children that loved to draw. They were motivated intrinsically by the pleasure they received from drawing. They took the children and asked them to draw. When completed they started giving them a gold star for completing the drawing. This created an extrinsic reward which the feeling of a gold star caused a dopamine seeking system. Now they drew because the dopamine was pushing them to receive the adulation from getting a gold star. Next, they stopped giving the children a gold star when completing a drawing. What they found out was that children who loved to draw (intrinsic motivation) repeatedly given a gold for their drawing (extrinsic motivation) loss their desire to draw when the gold stars were no longer given out. This is how powerful dopamine is in motivating our behavior.

This proves if we can stop the reward causing the dopamine rush, we can extinguish the behavior.

One way that we can change the reward is by reassessing its value. This is called the Reward Value. There may have been a valuable reward when you first started smoking. It made you look cool. It helped get you going in the morning. Or perhaps it helped you calm down. But now you are older. Is the reward still that valuable? When you compare the value against the negative consequences, is it still valuable? When you can see that the value has diminished and is not worth smoking, you can more easily quit.

Sugar has its reward but when you have gained thirty pounds is the reward of eating sugary treats still that appealing? We need to ask ourselves,

Is what I am doing really worth it?

Is my life really better with this or without it?

It helps to self-monitor – What exactly are you doing? Anna Lembke, in her book, Dopamine Nation – Finding Balance In The Age Of Indulgence, talks about living in a world that is overstimulated by dopamine. Marketing, entertainment, social media have created an environment of instant gratification, competition, comparison where we are always being triggered. She suggests that we monitor what we are doing in order to get a better understanding of our motivation or habitual behavior.

It is surprising how many of us are deeply involved in dopamine driven behaviors, but we don’t really see it. It is our normal. We don’t want to be “that person” but often we live in denial and are actually living the way we really don’t want to. In order to change we need to know what needs to be changed. Be your own detective Take a look your behavior. What are you doing? Tract your behavior.

How often are you participating in it?

How long do you spend at a time?

Ask yourself What am I doing? Where am I doing it? When am I doing it? Who am I doing it with?

Don’t just take your word for it. Ask others that know you. If you are going to change you need to know exactly what you are going to change. Someone who knows you and genuinely cares for you will be honest and help you see potential blind spots. What is it doing for me? The other “W” question that we need to ask ourselves is, “Why am I doing this?” What do you perceive as the reward. We do things that reward us. So we need to ask ourself, “What am I gaining? What is this behavior doing for me. We also need to ask, “What am I avoiding.” Often the reward is escaping from the perceived consequences that we think are eminent.

By asking yourself, what am I really gaining from this behavior you can see if the reward is still viable or would you be better of without this? When you see that the reward is not worth it, you can now say with certainty that, “This is faulty wiring; the reward is no longer significant. I do not have to listen to it. I am not going to die if I don’t get it.”

2. We can combat the dopamine rush by doing a Dopamine Fast!
Another way to overcome the dopamine. Triggers are powerful and we are not going to get rid of it in one day. The best thing to do is to commit to stopping for thirty days. There is a reason that treatment centers are normally 28-30 days. It takes that long to reset the brain. You haven’t arrived in thirty days but the desire has toned down. You are in a much better place to make good judgement calls on what to do next.
By staying away from those things that trigger you, the behaviors that dopamine is driving you toward for thirty days, you will be well on your way to breaking the dopamine cycle

3. We can combat the dopamine rush by fighting Dopamine with Dopamine! Replace one behavior for something better
Once you know that the reward you were getting is no longer significant, but that you were simply reacting to a trigger and dopamine was pushing you to the behavior, you can replace it with something better. This happens when we come to the realization that we need a change, and we know that there is a better path. As we focus on the new behavior, we can use visualization, research, conversation with others to motivate us toward change. Once we desire it, then the new goal will be rewarding, and dopamine can help us continue in the process. We are using the dopamine rush for the new behavior to extinguish the old behavior.

Turn On Desire Toward Something Beneficial
When we are intrinsically motivated, that is motivated from within, we enjoy the process and strive to do better. This is the growth mindset. We need to turn on a “motivational switch,” that is desire, in which we receive joy and satisfaction from the new behavior. The “I got to have it” feeling. Oxytocin and endorphins provide the exhilaration of being involved in the process, while serotonin provides the satisfaction. This is much like the inventor. They love inventing, improving, improvising, and learning, so each day the process is the reward. They are motivated and dopamine helps them move toward their goals. Dr. Huberman says this is where we get joy, bliss, delight, satisfaction, contentment and most of all, happiness. Their prefrontal cortex loves the challenge, and the dopamine anticipates the thrill of discovery and growth and motivates him or her.

Don’t let dopamine continue to take you down the wrong road. You can retrain your brain and change your desires.

For more information, go to http://www.ronovitt.com

Reparenting Ourselves

TUESDAY – July 5, Reparenting Ourselves – Part 3

As we grow up we are at the mercy of our caregivers. There are no perfect parents. Life is stressful and it is very possible that children can grow up with a twisted view of life. A view that leads to immaturity. You don’t have to go through life crippled emotionally because you did not receive what you should have the first time around. You can be reparented. This is an exciting newer concept. Come and find out how you can reparent yourself.

Join Ron Ovitt, author of the book, Five Signs Of A healthy Christian, Tuesday, July 5, at 7:00 CST. at Moraine Valley Church, 6300 127th, Palos Heights, IL.

In this third lesson, we will examine the different ways we can survive our past and thrive in our present, being all that God has created us to be.

Join the class live or online on Moraine Valley Churches Youtube channel.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCmCExDPgX4tTBPAwgMvbYgQ

P.S. If you can’t join us live you can watch the video replay

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCmCExDPgX4tTBPAwgMvbYgQ

Look for the video dated July 5.

For more information go to www. ronovitt.com

Reparenting Yourself – Part 1

TUESDAY – June 21, Reparenting Ourselves – Part 1

As we grow up we are at the mercy of our caregivers. There are no perfect parents. Life is stressful and it is very possible that children can grow up with a twisted view of life. A view that leads to immaturity. You don’t have to go through life crippled emotionally because you did not receive what you should have the first time around. You can be reparented. This is an exciting newer concept. Come and find out how you can reparent yourself.

Join Ron Ovitt, author of the book, Power Up!, Tuesday, June 21, at 7:00 CST. at Moraine Valley Church, 6300 127th, Palos Heights, IL.

In his book, Healing the Child Within, Dr. Charles Whitfield writes, “From 80 to 95% of people did not receive the love, guidance and other nurturing necessary to form consistently healthy relationships, and to feel good about themselves and about what they do.” The good news is that today we have options. We can “reparent” ourselves. We can experience the positive, nurturing, loving parenting that we should have had. Don’t miss this insightful class!

Join the class live or online on Moraine Valley Churches Youtube channel.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCmCExDPgX4tTBPAwgMvbYgQ

P.S. If you can’t join us live you can watch the video replay

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCmCExDPgX4tTBPAwgMvbYgQ

Look for the vidoe dated June 21, 2022

FOR MORE INFORMATION GO TO: http://www.ronovitt.com

Overcoming Toxic Shame Part 2

Shame comes from relationships and then becomes a self-definition

Shame comes from early child trauma and can result in, false guilt, shame, self-bitterness, self-rejection and self-hatred. This emotional self beliefs left unchecked can lead to a variety of emotional disorders and physical diseases such as depression, anger, anxiety, chronic fatigue, various coronary artery diseases, autoimmune disorders, arthritis, lupus, irritable bowel disease, panic attacks, migraines, and chronic back pain.

Dr. DeYoung writes,

I become a self disintegrating in relation to a dysregulating other. This is what happens: as an infant, when I am in an affective state of distress, or as a child, when I am feeling a rush of emotion, the other’s response fails to help me manage what I’m feeling. Instead of feeling connected to someone strong and calm, I feel alone. Instead of feeling contained, I feel out of control. Instead of feeling energetically focused, I feel overwhelmed. Instead of feeling that I’ll be okay, I feel like I’m falling apart. This kind of experience is the core experience of shame. All of it has something to do with needing something intensely from somebody important, and something going wrong with the interaction between us. I feel, “I can’t make happen what I need from you.” If the sequence is repeated often enough in my development to become an expectable experience, I will have a core propensity to feel shame whenever I have strong feelings, need emotional connection, or feel something is wrong in an interpersonal interaction. In all of those situations, I will be likely to conclude, consciously or unconsciously, “There is something wrong with what I need—with my needy self.” As I grow from toddler to young child, I will make that sort of sense of any unintegrated feelings that feel bad to me: I will come to believe that there is badness inherent in my disconnected emotional self who feels those “bad” feelings. This is when felt badness comes to have the meanings we usually associate with shame. As I grow from child to adolescent, I may hang that shame on challenging parts of my expanding self-experience—my body, my sexuality, my emotions, or my competence—that give me some reason for self-loathing. By the time I am an adult, I may have perfected ways to cover and compensate for my propensity to experience shame. However, these very self-protections will alienate me from my own genuine experience and prevent genuine connection with others. What I have described as the core experience.

Exercise 1

What Does Shame Look Like?

Take a few minutes and share what shame is NON-VERBALLY. Use your face and other body language to communicate shame. Go around till everyone exhibits the posture. Then discuss

how that felt like to feel shame.

Healthy Remorse Vs Toxic Shame

Remorse, unlike shame, can be healthy. It is a Godly remorse, a response to true guilt that leads to repentance. It is feeling “ashamed” that momentary feeling of regret over something done or said. It is the acknowledgement that I have loss the respect of others and will have to work on the situation. Remorse and regret look at the situation and the ramifications and conditions for making restitution. Some would call this healthy shame. However, it is hard to separate shame from a judgment about me as a person. I can feel “ashamed” where I have a painful feeling of dishonor or disgrace over something I have done, but this is different than the feeling “of shame.” Shame is not an attitude about what I have done, but an attitude about me. I am more than dishonored over this situation, I am dishonorable. Shame crosses over into a toxic emotion of the self.

Shame makes it difficult to return to joy and peace from painful emotions

Shame is a lie and it causes distorted thinking and dysfunctional behavior. The pain associated with shame can lead us to ESCAPES – (negative ways to regulate emotions through overindulgence in Excitement, Substance, Compulsive behavior, Avoidance, People, Emotionalism, Sex

Lies  →  Distorted identity  →  Brain predicts negative outcomes  →  Painful emotions  →  ESCAPES – Overindulgence in Excitement, Substance, Compulsive behavior, Avoidance, People, Emotionalism, Sex

There is more on this important topic. Look for part 3. Sign up so you can get all our posts.

For more information go to http://www.ronovitt.com

10 DIFFERENT WAYS TO COMBAT TOXIC SHAME!

TOMORROW NIGHT – June 14, How To Overcome Toxic Shame Part 2

Shame is carried in our posture, disposition, attitudes, and self-beliefs. The good news is with work and perseverance; we can change shame-based thoughts into self-acceptance, love, and confidence. Join us and find out 10 DIFFERENT WAYS TO COMBAT TOXIC SHAME!

Join Ron Ovitt, author of the book, Completing the Twelve Steps, Tuesday, June 14, at 7:00 CST. at Moraine Valley Church, 6300 127th, Palos Heights, IL.

Shame is a deeply rooted feeling and belief system. Often feelings of shame have been experienced thousands of times in our childhood and are carried over and continued into adulthood. Unchecked, it becomes a state of mind; with more time, it eventually becomes a trait we carry with us. Shame is carried in our posture, disposition, attitudes, and self-beliefs. The good news is with work and perseverance, we can change shame-based thoughts into self-acceptance, love, and confidence. We will go over ten ways to combat toxic shame. Don’t miss this insightful class!

Join the class live or online on Moraine Valley Churches Youtube channel.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCmCExDPgX4tTBPAwgMvbYgQ

P.S. If you can’t join us live you can watch the video replay

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCmCExDPgX4tTBPAwgMvbYgQ

Look for the video dated June 14.

Overcoming Toxic Shame Part 1

Toxic Effects of Shame

Too many of us suffer with toxic unhealthy shame. It is more than an emotion. Shame is a belief about one’s self, a body posture, a felt sense, a dread. This painful feeling can be triggered from something we have done that can potentially cause us to lose the respect of others but we take it much further. It is a deep sense of irrefutable damage that will lead to total abandonment. It confirms a deep woundedness in our heart which says, “I must be good”. “I must please everyone.” “I can’t do wrong.” Behind every one of these phrases is an “or else.” A consequence, severe mental punishment, a banishment, a primal wound that raises terror deep down in our gut that we shutter to think of. Toxic shame is much more insidious and hard to rid ourselves of than the guilt of our sins. It is a pervasive feeling that eats away at our soul. Lewis Smedes in book, Shame and Grace says:

Unhealthy feelings of shame is about our very selves – not about some bad thing we did or said but about who we are. It tells us that we are unworthy. Totally. It is not a few stitches that need mending, it is the whole fabric that is frayed. We feel we are unacceptable, damaged goods. And to feel that, is a life-wearying heaviness.

Shame is best understood as intensely painful feeling or experience of believing we are flawed and therefore unworthy of acceptance and belonging. Shame can lead to fear and anger and is the greatest obstacles to returning to joy and peace. Why? Because shame makes us afraid to be authentic and attune to others. Shame prevents us from accepting love that we don’t think we earned. And belonging to others who could help us in our journey is tenuous at best and only one failure away. Shame tells us that we are unworthy, unlovable, and, worst of all, incapable of change. And if we get bold enough to start to feel good about ourself, take off our mask and stop trying to be a people pleaser, shame tells us that it is no use, we will never be good enough and looks for any excuse to “put us back in our place.”

Dr. Patricia A. DeYoung in her class book, Understanding and Treating Chronic Shame, writes

People report that shame makes them feel blank, “vaporized,” or incoherent, even to themselves. In moments of feeling humiliated, they can’t speak, or even think. They feel shattered, or as if they are falling apart. The threat of psychological annihilation is mirrored by their wish to sink through the floor or to disappear, in some way just to cease to exist.

As Helen Block Lewis pointed out in the early days of psychoanalytic shame theory, the very wordlessness of shame and the concreteness of the autonomic activity it arouses—blushing, sweating, rapid heart-rate, and diffuse rage—make it a powerful and primitive reaction that resists rational solution.

DeYoung writes about studies done by Nathanson and Tomkins. She shares,

Shame, as Nathanson describes it, is a painful mechanism that limits positive affects, and the degree of pain it causes seems to depend on the contrast between the severity of the felt limit and the degree of “pull” the positive still contains. When a pleasurable pattern of neural firing is suddenly interrupted, the rupture is embodied in downcast eyes, a slump of muscle tone most visible in the head and shoulders, and a sense of confusion and disorientation. Silvan Tomkins, Nathanson’s mentor, argued that for human beings affect is the primary innate biological motivating mechanism, more urgent than drives associated with deprivation or pleasure, more urgent, even, than physical pain.

Nathanson explains that affect is only the beginning of the story of shame. When a person becomes aware of having an affect, the affect becomes a feeling, and then feelings, or emotions, become linked to memories and meanings. In his words, “Whereas affect is biology, emotion is biography.” Within the narratives we live, shame becomes the complex felt-meanings that accrue over time around all the “neural firing” moments when we feel the slump of a sudden fall from grace, the confusion of a sudden loss of face. As Tomkins himself said in a passage often quoted by those theorizing in his wake: “While terror and distress hurt, they are wounds inflicted from outside which penetrate the smooth surface of the ego; but shame is felt as an inner torment, a sickness of the soul. It does not matter whether the humiliated one has been shamed by derisive laughter or whether he mocks himself. In either event he feels himself naked, defeated, alienated, lacking in dignity and worth.

Shame comes from relationships and then becomes a self definition

Shame comes from early child trauma and can result in, false guilt, shame, self-bitterness, self-rejection and self-hatred. This emotional self beliefs left unchecked can lead to a variety of emotional disorders and physical diseases such as depression, anger, anxiety, chronic fatigue, various coronary artery diseases, autoimmune disorders, arthritis, lupus, irritable bowel disease, panic attacks, migraines, and chronic back pain.

Dr. DeYoung writes,

I become a self disintegrating in relation to a dysregulating other. This is what happens: as an infant, when I am in an affective state of distress, or as a child, when I am feeling a rush of emotion, the other’s response fails to help me manage what I’m feeling. Instead of feeling connected to someone strong and calm, I feel alone. Instead of feeling contained, I feel out of control. Instead of feeling energetically focused, I feel overwhelmed. Instead of feeling that I’ll be okay, I feel like I’m falling apart. This kind of experience is the core experience of shame. All of it has something to do with needing something intensely from somebody important, and something going wrong with the interaction between us. I feel, “I can’t make happen what I need from you.” If the sequence is repeated often enough in my development to become an expectable experience, I will have a core propensity to feel shame whenever I have strong feelings, need emotional connection, or feel something is wrong in an interpersonal interaction. In all of those situations, I will be likely to conclude, consciously or unconsciously, “There is something wrong with what I need—with my needy self.” As I grow from toddler to young child, I will make that sort of sense of any unintegrated feelings that feel bad to me: I will come to believe that there is badness inherent in my disconnected emotional self who feels those “bad” feelings. This is when felt badness comes to have the meanings we usually associate with shame. As I grow from child to adolescent, I may hang that shame on challenging parts of my expanding self-experience—my body, my sexuality, my emotions, or my competence—that give me some reason for self-loathing. By the time I am an adult, I may have perfected ways to cover and compensate for my propensity to experience shame. However, these very self-protections will alienate me from my own genuine experience and prevent genuine connection with others. What I have described as the core experience.

I have taken our lesson and broken it into several parts. Part 2 is to come.

Overcoming Toxic Shame – Part 1

TUESDAY NIGHT – June 7, How To Overcome Toxic Shame Part 1

Shame is carried in our posture, disposition, attitudes, and self-beliefs. The good news is with work and perseverance; we can change shame-based thoughts into self-acceptance, love, and confidence. Come and find out how.

Join Ron Ovitt, author of the book, Power-Up!, Tuesday, June 7, at 7:00 CST. at Moraine Valley Church, 6300 127th, Palos Heights, IL.

Shame is a deeply rooted feeling and belief system. Often feelings of shame have been experienced thousands of times in our childhood and are carried over and continued into adulthood. Unchecked, it becomes a state of mind; with more time, it eventually becomes a trait we carry with us. Shame is carried in our posture, disposition, attitudes, and self-beliefs. The good news is with work and perseverance, we can change shame-based thoughts into self-acceptance, love, and confidence.

Join the class live or online on Moraine Valley Churches Youtube channel.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCmCExDPgX4tTBPAwgMvbYgQ

P.S. If you can’t join us live you can watch the video replay

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCmCExDPgX4tTBPAwgMvbYgQ

Look for the video dated June 7.

Keeping A Clear Conscience

THIS TUESDAY NIGHT – Keep Your Conscience Clear – Pt. 2

Keeping our conscience clear is key to good mental health. Come and find out how we can do this.

Join Ron Ovitt, author of the book, Completing the Twelve Steps, tonight, Tuesday, May 24, at 7:00 CST. at Moraine Valley Church, 6300 127th, Palos Heights, IL.

Making amends is critical to keeping a clear conscience. Come and learn how you can put the past in the past!

Join the class live or online on Moraine Valley Church’s Youtube channel.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCmCExDPgX4tTBPAwgMvbYgQ

P.S. If you can’t join us live you can watch the video replay

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCmCExDPgX4tTBPAwgMvbYgQ

Look for the video dated May 24.

For more information go to http://www.ronovitt.com

Stop Relapsing

Relapse Prevention Circles

It is hard to overcome those hard habits or addictions. Even if we stop there is always a chance of relapse. That is why I like to emphasize relapse prevention. One of the best books I have seen about overcoming sexual addiction is, Facing the Shadows by Patrick Carnes. Although it is about sexual addiction, the book has wonderful strategies that will work with any strong habit or addiction.

I feel the best technique he uses (Although the book is full of wonderful strategies) is what he calls the Three-Circle Method. The inner circle is where we put our Abstinence List, that is the behaviors we are closing the door on.. We do not want to do these anymore. This inner circle is then surrounded and protected by two other circles.

The second circle represents the triggers (people places and things) that lead to the inner circle. Your goal is to keep on top of this list. If you can control those triggers the inner circle is protected. You must stop these as much as possible. You must know that the triggers and behaviors in this circle are very close to the edge. Let them be the warning and turn away from them.

The outer circle is the positive goals and rewards that you have to want to put in place. This is what he calls your plan. This is the positive behavior, places, and people that you want to surround your life with. This is the positive vision that your brain (specifically dopamine) can get excited about and motivate you toward. (Dopamine Control Circuit) With a great plan, the emphasis is not on abstinence any longer. It is a positive, rewarding lifestyle.

Inner Circle – I will not do – List the behavior(s) you will not do any longer.

_______________________________________________________________

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Middle Circle – List those trigger places, people, things and behaviors that you will stop. You know that when you are doing these you are only a step away from the inner circle. Stay away from these.

_________________________________________________________________________________

_________________________________________________________________________________

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Outer Circle – This is the positive goals and behavior that you want to participate in. It is a new plan that will satisfy you. You want to indulge in this new plan and enjoy the benefits of your new freedom. Write out your substitute behavior and goals. Visualize and let it emotionally excite you and bring you peace.

_________________________________________________________________________________

_________________________________________________________________________________

_________________________________________________________________________________

_________________________________________________________________________________

_________________________________________________________________________________

_________________________________________________________________________________

Try this today. Fill out each circle and see if it won’t help you from relapsing.