If you are going to Change Your Stripes and break free from the bondage of addiction and despair, it is supremely important to realize that YOU are the ultimate author of all your additions, your emotions, and your knee-jerk reactions. How so?
Each choice you make is like shooting an arrow into the air, it must land somewhere and at some time; each decision you make is like an arrow launched, they cannot be called back and will always have a landing consequence. For example, the knee-jerk reactions that erupt today are the landing of yesterday's “shot-arrows/decisions-made.” (For more about knee-jerk-reactions and addictions see Provoke-Ability Quotient, page 49, and Energy-in-Motion, page 133.)
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Provoke-Ability Quotient: Just as I.Q. measures intelligence, the P.Q. represents a person's propensity to be provoked. On a scale from 0 to 10, higher scores point to the tendency to be quickly and easily inflamed. A score of “10” would describe a maniacal RAGE-aholic, and lower scores would reflect a greater propensity for being patient when faced with provocation. Jesus would have a P.Q. score of “0”, and the rest of us would have a score somewhere between 1 and 10.
You've likely heard the terms “reaching a breaking point” or “hitting hot buttons,” these words describe the threshold at which we literally CEASE to have character capacity sufficient to choose a patient reply. Once people pass this “breaking point,” choosing rationally doesn't really happen; instead, patterns of reaction are “automatic” due to an entrenched history of previous choices (notice I didn’t say “an entrenched history of social influence”).
In the pressing moment when the P.Q. threshold is breached, your exercise of will ceases to be “free” will; instead, you are chained to emotional and behavioral consequences that are intrinsically tied to choices made . . . in prior days—it’s karma calling, to kick your butt.
This explains the human tendency of knee-jerk reactions, a.k.a., going nuts, flipping out, boiling over, blowing up, blowing your top, blowing your cool, acting whack-o, going berserk, in a tiff, in a tizzy, losing it, or raging, etc. Because these reactions are not consciously chosen in the moment, but flow from us quite unconsciously, therefore, it is erroneously assumed that an “unconscious mind” controls “unconscious behaviors.”
And guess who . . . is the author of you P.Q.? It is you!
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The reality of P.Q. explains why most thoughtless crimes of passion are committed; indeed, they are completely “thoughtless” because they flow “unconsciously” from who-we-are. But here's the catch that many don't get: While a person may act “insane” in a particular moment of passion, that person is still responsible for the history of choices that produced the propensity to react insanely.
We wallow in weakness when we try to blame other people or situations for the responses that come out of us. While we may point to a constraining situation to Explain the Set-Up scenario to which we have fallen prey, we cannot lean upon those situations to Excuse our bad behavior—we must own our bad!
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A "response" is rationally chosen in the here and now, whereas a "reaction" is what comes out of you today, because of Energy-in-Motion that YOU set-in-motion yesterday, by either a rational choice or a reactive choice. And if today's Emotional Energy "squirts" out because of a prior "reactive choice," thus you can understand how reactive choices are self-perpetuating.
This is the very cycle that constitutes habitual behavior and in its extreme manifestations, the vicious cycle of addictive behaviors. The term "reactive choice" is an oxymoron, but I use it to emphasize that even your unconscious behaviors belong to YOU. Unconscious addictive behaviors flow from Conscious choices made yesterday, thus "reactive choices."
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So, how does a person break free from the Cycle of Addiction? The specifics are detailed in my book, Changing Your Stripes. Here are some supporting ideas that will point you in the right direction:
In Contrast to Pure White. Visualize a canvas of pure white, the kind of canvas that an artist uses to paint a portrait. Think of your life as a collection of colors being painted upon this clean, clear canvas. With every word you think and every deed you do, the portrait of your life is painted, and in contrast to pure white, any tint or shade less than white is obvious and conspicuous. Against an immaculate backdrop, you are able to see . . . with perfect clarity, how some motives and emotions fall short of pure white.
In your mind's eye, imagine that all loving words and deeds possess the unsullied shine of bright white. The purity of love would have no hint of darkness, not even the slightest shade of gray. Every word, deed, thought, or emotion that is "less-than" pure white, is a shade of betrayal:
Pure Love Less-than-Love
calm approachable impetuous edgy
Shades of Betrayal: Less-than-Love. When we are being less-than-loving, the portrait we paint upon the white canvas is clouded by confusion; instead of vivid hues of red, blue, and green, a quarreling collision of colors makes the muddied shades of black and gray. Thus the portrait of our Life loses clarity . . . and beauty. Against the backdrop of bright white, even the subtlest shades of gray are easily exposed.
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Look back on your life: Remember a time when you were crystal clear that something was wrong to do, . . . but you did it anyway. With your very first act that betrayed the Light of Innocence within, you were completely clear that a lesser way was being chosen. With each subsequent betrayal, this crystal sense of honesty became increasingly clouded; you became accustomed to the muddied shades of a dreary portrait. You became desensitized to the darkness, . . . deadened by the darkness.
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The Light of Innocence will naturally lead you back to the complete purity you possessed as a child. Followed consistently over time, the Light of Innocence will lead you to recover and renew . . . the You that is True. Returning to pure white is how you began and is who you are from your core. When you recover and renew, euphoric feelings of Love fill you, and flow from you. As you choose Love, you also choose the peace that comes with Love. To follow these impressions of Inner Innocence . . . is to experience rebirth.
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The Fallibility of Following Feelings. The words "feeling" and "emotion" are essentially synonymous. Emotional moments, feeling moments, are Life's exclamation points—lending emphasis to particular experiences. Through "feelings" we are constrained to pay greater attention to things that likely need more attention—this is true whether the feelings are white, black, or gray.
When emotions flow from darkness, the discomfort of unsettled feelings is educational—it can teach us NOT to do "something like that again." The rule of thumb, "follow your feelings" became a common guide precisely because all emotional experience is instructive.
However "following your feelings" per se is an unreliable rule—because some feelings are fallible. The fact is that emotions flow from prior perceptions and choices; thus, any physiological feeling that arises in you, is actually following your lead. It makes no sense to follow something . . . that is following you! Because YOU author of your emotions, if your perceptions are skewed then the feelings that flow from you will be equally warped. Bottom Line: Emotions should not always be followed, but should always be listened to for what they might teach.
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So, YOU are both the author of you addictions and your emotions—although it doesn't always seem so, in the moment. This is because we tend to forget the specific choices we've made in prior days—specifically, in a thousand yesterdays. The history of our decisions combine to create today's behaviors: what we do and our accompanying emotions and addictions.
So, how does a person Un-Do the habitual pattern of addictive behaviors and negative emotions? Again, the specifics are detailed in my book, Changing Your Stripes.
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Doctor Matt Moody offers telephone counseling that will fix your problems fast. More accurately stated, Dr Matt will put you on the road to recovering "fast." Fact is, if you've spent ten, twenty, or thirty years digging into an addiction, it will take years to crawl out of the hole of addiction that you've dug. But as long as you're looking up and moving up, then life will be better than yesterday.
Changing Your Stripes is a