One of the hardest things in benzo withdrawal is the negative thinking we are prone to. “I’ll never heal!” “This symptom is so scary I can’t cope with it!” “I dread tomorrow, knowing I will be sick again.” You know the thoughts we have.
I had a challenging day today. I knew if I was going to get through it without revving up my benzo withdrawal symptoms too much, I had to be mindful of my thoughts. When things got over whelming, I simply took a break. When my thoughts drifted into the negative zone, I gently pulled them back into the here and now and allowed myself to accept my life just as it is.
The “I’m going to be sick the rest of my life,” thought decided it wanted some attention today. Every time it ran through my mind, I knew I had to change it. I told myself, “Jenn, it is just a thought. It isn’t real. It is just some chemical and electrical impulses in my brain. That doesn’t make it real.” I asked myself what I would rather be thinking about. I decided that thinking about my perfect day in two years from now was better than the negative thought.
Thinking about your perfect day in the future can help you too. It is an amazing exercise that does some interesting things to your brain. Decide what your perfect day in the future looks like. Grab some paper and start writing about it in 15 minute increments. You decide when you will wake up and you start. The trick is to write in detail. Write each activity as it would realistically take you to finish. That means you probably would not write “I brushed my teeth from 8 AM until 8:15, unless you really brush for 15 minutes.
The perfect day exercise helps you focus your attention away from your benzo withdrawal symptoms. It also helps you focus your attention on what you want in your life. The writing is said to activate a part of the brain called the insula. That helps you get a better sense of yourself. When things you wrote about for your perfect day begin to appear in your life, you will be more prone to noticing them.
Years ago I wrote about a perfect day and it involved teaching Creative Play and brain growth with Andy Goldsworthy, my favorite artist. When I had the chance to meet him in person, I knew I had to ask him about the chance to work together. Had I not written about my perfect day years before, I may have never thought to have the courage to talk to him!
The perfect day exercise takes time. You must write your day in 15 minute increments. Don’t rush it. You can take days or weeks or more to finish it. When you are done, read it every day for a week. Once you put it away, remember to pull it out and read it from time to time.
Mr. Goldsworthy did not accept my invitation to explore play with me. But that’s OK. I at least had the chance to talk to him. And that made that day perfect!
We will all heal. We all have perfect days waiting for us.
P.S. A secret. Today was a perfect day for all of us. Even in our suffering. I trust that this present moment is perfect.