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I recently finished reading a book about PTSD. This book had many visualization techniques for working through issues, calming yourself down, and dealing with anxiety. I have been in therapy for a little over a year now and I have never tried a visualization technique before.

I have tried to do guided meditations before but I found them to be both annoying and distracting. And I kind of assumed visualization exercises were similar. At best ineffective and hokey and dumb at worst.

But I was really upset a few weeks ago at something a friend had done. I was so upset I tried to call my therapist and book an emergency appointment. But she wasn’t answering.

So I decided to do the least hokey visualization to try to calm down. And that was imagining that my emotions were on a dial from 1-10. First you decide where you are on the dial and why. Then you decide if that’s an appropriate emotional response. And if it isn’t, you try to figure out how to change or lower it.

I decided I was a 5 mad at my friend for what he did and I was an 8 mad at myself for allowing him to do what he had done.

But then I started thinking about all he has been through lately. And I decided being a 5 mad at him was a little too harsh. He has had a tough time. So I lowered it to a 3. And I imagined physically rotating the dial from a 5 to a 3.

So then I started wondering how much sense it made to be so mad at myself when I didn’t even actually do anything wrong. Except give someone a chance. So I decided I couldn’t be MORE mad at myself than I was at him. So I imagined physically rotating the second dial from an 8 to a 3.

I was shocked at how much better I immediately felt. I don’t know if it was because I was logically picking apart my feelings which helped to calm me down, or if it was the visualization.

But it was one of those things I also didn’t want to try to examine too closely. If there was magic involved I didn’t want to see the explanations behind it. It worked and that’s all that mattered.

I’ve used this technique a few times to calm myself down when I am upset. It has actually worked every time so far. It’s making me start to realize how useful visualization can be in recovery. Maybe I should give one of those other ones a try…


4 responses »

  1. That’s pretty incredible, and a good idea.

  2. the least hokey visualization <<<< Heheh…I got a chuckle out of that. You said it all in a nutshell: It worked, and that's all that mattered. Good for you for applying a technique (guided imagery) and having the faith to back it up. The catch is, it only works if you BELIEVE it will. Much like Peter Pan. Or God, etc. It all boils down to how much you believe. I think at first, you didn't know either way, but you were willing to try, at least. That's still believing. ;0) And so because you opened that channel on your own, it allowed the technique to actually be applied. When applied, you found out that hey- it works! It worked all along but you had to find that out through your own faith. This is what's awesome about faith in general to me. It works for those who apply it.

    I think it's neat that you''ve been in therapy for a year, and I've been studying therapy/counseling/psychology/perspectives/theories (yada yada) for 4. I've had to actually learn how to become my own therapist through my studies. I agree, there's a good bit of "hokey" to be had. But, there's some pretty neat stuff too.

    Love reading your posts. :0) And thanks for sharing.

    • There is something about that placebo effect that is so intriguing to me. It’s why I also love fringe science so much. If you believe it works, and you actually feel better, then who cares why. I am actually an atheist, but if god works for some people than who I am to take that away? My issue has always been with religion. I have no quarrel with the concept of god.


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