Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Finding the weakest link

As I've mentioned here many times, dropping the belief in danger is key to overcoming nervous symptoms. Of course, this is easier said than done.

Dr. Low gives us tips for doing this, including replacing insecure thoughts with secure thoughts. Taking the emergency out of the situation makes a big difference too.

I have found that these tools work particularly well with "new" symptoms. For example, a week ago I was really dreading making a call to my handyman. Temper certainly was blocking the light of logic, as I'm on the phone all day at work; why should one more call bother me in any way? Yet every time I thought about making this particular call my heart would race, my hands would become sweaty, and my mind would be filled with insecure thoughts. After a couple days of this torture I spotted that calling a handyman, and spending money on home repairs, makes me uncomfortable, and that is an average reaction for an average frustration. So I moved my muscles and made the call, and quickly the agony went away. I endorsed for putting my mental health first. Before Recovery I would have spent a lot more time working myself up before making the call.

For my "old friend" symptoms replacing insecure thoughts has been more difficult. This is really not surprising, as these problems did not develop overnight and they won't ease that quickly either (that would be exceptional, and Dr. Low advises us to be average). In this case Dr. Low tells us to attack symptoms at their weakest link. I recently read his thoughts on this subject (1) and found his words reassuring. While my symptoms are more intense outside the home, the key to reducing their intensity is to start addressing them at home, where they are not as intense. Dr. Low elaborates:

"Suppose you wish to become an airplane pilot. You will first work on prints and models, then on parts, then on machines of simple design, and only in the last stages of your apprenticeship, will you venture to manipulate the more powerful engines. This gradual progression, from relatively simple to increasingly more complex tasks, is the system by means of which every method is learned.... If a patient suffers from an explosive temper, it will be easier for him to control it where the temperamental deadlock is mild than where it is in full blaze." (1, 381)

By attacking symptoms at their weakest link, Dr. Low assures us we will improve. And that is indeed a secure thought.

1. Low AA. Chapter 46: Symptoms must be attacked where they are weakest. Mental Health Through Will-Training. 3rd ed. Glencoe, Ill.: Willett, 1997; 376-84.


Anonymous said...

I just want to say that I find your blog really helpful, and inspiring. I am researching Dr Low and his RI system now. :) Thanks for being online, speaking out about your anxiety and your ways of dealing with it. It is so nice to be able to read your blog and feel like someone actually understands the way I feel.

C. S.

Doug said...

CS, I am delighted you are researching Dr. Low and Recovery. I am very confident you will find his work extremely useful.