DMC Exercise #4: Managing Denial
In this exercise you will learn how to identify the thoughts, feelings, urges, actions, and social reactions associated with the three denial patterns that you selected and personalized. Then we will learn how to turn off each denial pattern by changing what we are thinking, how we are managing our feelings and urges, what we are doing, and how we are relating to other people.
Min-Education Session: The first thing that we need to do is to understand how thoughts, feelings, urges, actions, and social reactions relate to one another. Here are some basic principles that can help us to understand how this works.
1. Thoughts Cause Feelings. Whenever we think about something we automatically react by having a feeling or an emotion.
2. Thoughts And Feelings Work Together To Cause Urges. Our way of thinking causes us to feel certain things. These feelings, in turn, reinforce the way that we are thinking. These thoughts and feelings work together to create an urge to do something. An urge is a desire that may be rational or irrational. The irrational urge to use alcohol or other drugs, even though we know that it will hurt us is also called craving. It is irrational because we want to use alcohol or other drugs even though we know that it will not be good for us.
3. Urges Plus Decisions Cause Actions. When we feel an urge we can pause and decide to something about it or to do nothing. This pause between the urge and action is called a decision point. Decision points are critically important because what we do or donít do at a decision point will determine what happens next.
A decision is a choice. A choice is specific way of thinking that causes us to commit to one way of doing things while refusing to do anything else. The decision point is the space between the urge and the action and it is always filled with a decision. The decision may be an automatic and unconscious choice that we have learned to make without having to think about it, or the decision can be based upon a conscious choice that result from carefully reflecting upon the situation and the options available for dealing with it.
4. Actions Cause Reactions From Other People. Our actions affect other people and cause them to react to us. It is helpful to think about our behavior like invitations that we give to other people to treat us in certain ways. Some behaviors invite people to be nice to us and to treat us with respect. Other behaviors invite people to argue and fight with us or to put us down. In every social situation we share part of the responsibility for what happens. This is because we are constantly inviting people to respond to us by the actions we take and by how we react to what other people do.
To recognize and stop our denial we need to learn how to: (1) tell the difference between thoughts and feelings; (2) tell the difference between feelings and urges; (3) tell the difference between urges and actions; (4) tell the difference between our actions and the social reaction they cause.
Learn how to manage our denial patterns, teaches us how to control our impulses. We donít have to do whatever we feel an urge to do. We can learn to stop our automatic reactions and start to making conscious choices. We can do this by learning how to pause, relax, reflect, and decide. We can learn to control our impulses even when we feel a strong urge to do something immediately. Itís not easy, but we can learn how.
Letís look at these four steps of the impulse control process: (1) Pause and notice the urge without doing anything about it; (2) Relax by taking a deep breath, slowly exhaling, and consciously imagining the stress draining from your body; (3) Reflect upon what you are experiencing by asking yourself: ďWhat do I have an urge to do? What has happened when I have done similar things in the past? What is likely to happen if I do that now?Ē; and then (4) Decide what you are going to do about the urge. Make a conscious choice instead of acting out in an automatic an unconscious way. When making the choice about what you are going to do, remind yourself that you will be responsible for both the action and its consequences.
Remember: Impulse control lives in the space between the urge and the action. With this in mind, letís develop a denial management plan for each of the denial patterns that you commonly use.
1. Write the Personal Title for a denial pattern that you selected.
2. Write the Personal Description for the denial pattern that you selected.
3. Write a Thought Statement starting with the words: "When I'm using this denial pattern I tend to think is ..."
4. Write a Thought Management Statement starting with the words: "Another way of thinking that will allow me to stop using denial and start identifying and solving my problems is ..."
5. Write a Feeling Statement starting with the words: "When I'm using this denial pattern I tend to feel ..."
6. Write a Feeling Management Statement starting with the words: "I can manage those feelings in a way that will allow me to stop using denial and start identifying and solving my problems by ..."
7. Write an Urge Statement starting with the words when I'm using this denial pattern I have an urge to ...
8. Write an Urge Management Statement starting with the words: "I can manage the urge to use denial and motivate myself to stop using denial and start identifying and solving my problems by ..."
9. Write an Behavior Statement starting with the words: "When I'm using this denial pattern what I usually do to keep myself from seeing the real problem is ..."
10. Write an Behavior Management Statement starting with the words "When I notice that I am using denial the things that I could to do to stop the denial and start identifying and solving my problems are ..."
11. Write an Social Reaction Statement starting with the words: "When I'm using this denial pattern other people usually react to me by ..."?
12. Write an Social Reaction Management Statement starting with the words: "I could invite other people to react to my denial in a way that would help me to recognize and stop it by ..."