The demographics were not good.
Sarah had just left an abusive 10-year relationship. Her chances of picking another abusive man was about 60%. Of course, her cycle began in childhood, watching her mother and father's relationship. Therapy can break that cycle. With therapy and new, healthy habits, Sarah had every chance of a bright future.
Of course, Sarah was not unique. We all have patterns we repeat from the past. Often these patterns are triggered by emotions. Finding ways to cool these fires, the heat of the moment, reactions is one of the keys to positive change.
In the fascinating book, The Practical Neuroscience of Buddha's Brain, authors Rick Hanson and Richard Mendius, M.D. explore the practical ways we can cools those reactionary fires with our minds. One of those techniques is mindfulness.
Mindfulness is a way of staying in the present moment. As soon as you feel like you are being caught up in the reactionary mode, use one or more of the 5 techniques on the list below:
- Relax your jaw, mouth and tongue
- Run warm water over your hands
- Measured breathing - Exhale to the count of 5 and them inhale to the count of 5
- Imagine you you sitting in a peaceful, safe place for 10 minutes. Fully imagine the sights, smells, tastes, sounds and physical sensations in the imaginary scene.
- Read or listen to the inspiring, positive words of a personal mentor or teacher.
The key takeaway here is to practice one of the above techniques for at least 30 minutes. In 30 minutes you can change the emotional state in your brain. The chemicals that fuel an knee-jerk emotional reaction will have changed.
Of course, everyone is different. You should seek counsel, therapy and possibly medical assistance if conditions point in that direction. We all need help occasionally and you will become stronger in the asking.
We are not our past. Your future is the one one you choose.
You can do this! You are enough!