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…