Access Consciousness – Explore The Urge

In my journey of seeking the magic bullet that would suddenly change me and heal my compulsive gambling I ran across a modality called Access Consciousness. I tend to be a bit compulsive with most things in my life and so when I find something new, I go overboard and immerse myself in it. I did this to some degree with Access.

I would include Access in the New Age category, so fair warning it may seem a bit out there for your taste if you’re not a fan of New Agey stuff.  Access Consciousness includes a lot of different processes and procedures that I won’t even try to unpack here. What I took from the concepts was really all about letting go of all the baggage we carry around and becoming one’s true self. It does this through a series of different processes or tools, some of which include self reflection questions. (If you’ve read any of my other posts, you know I’m a fan of self reflection.)

I barely made it past beginner status with Access, the programs are pretty pricey but many of the students have written books and there is a fair amount of info in the internet so I was able to still dive in a bit. One of the books I read was by Dr. Dain Heer,  Becoming You, Changing The World. I would recommend his book, he shares several of the processes and it gives you a new way of looking at things. I liked much of what I discovered, but I do need to say it had a bit of a cult like feel for me and I don’t think I would go much further with it. However,  I wanted to share the program with you because I want to introduce you to a process from another book I read.

Access And Recovery

What does Access have to do with recovery? Great question. One of the students of Access, Marilyn M. Bradford, wrote a book – Right Recovery For You. A quote from the book that resonated with me is “The greatest gift that you can give yourself and the world is to show up as who you really are, with all the parts and pieces you have deemed unacceptable back in place. When you do this, addiction cannot exist.”

This fits with my overall belief that moving towards self-love and self-acceptance is vital in recovery. It is a way to move in the direction of healing and move away from self sabotaging behaviors. I’m not sure that Access is the way to get to self acceptance for everyone, but I found it helpful and it might be a place to start.

The Process

The book is engaging and gives multiple opportunities for self investigation. I wanted to focus on using this form of self investigation when urges  come up. It really is similar to playing the tape through, the idea of stopping and investigating what will really happen if I go through with this thought. This process is focused around why this thought is coming up and what would happen if you don’t engage in the behavior. If you can pause, stop to reflect, before just going from thought to action, you have a chance of getting more in touch with triggers, finding better ways to self soothe, and ideally breaking the hold of the addictive behavior. Being present with what is, this is the part that differs from playing the tape through. Realizing you can be okay if you don’t give into the impulse.

When an impulse or thought comes up to engage in a behavior or to indulge in a substance a normal person will check in and determine whether or not it is a good idea. An addict however will go from thought to action without really taking time to look at the consequences of the behavior.

So taking the idea from the book about investigating, following are some of Marilyn’s questions that I have modified a little. Ask yourself these questions when an urge comes up. The more you find you can delay the urge and investigate what is really going on you gain some of your power back. You diminish the control the addiction has on you. I will use the word behavior, just substitute whatever your drug of choice is.

The Questions

  1. On a scale from 1 to 10 how strong is the urge to give into this behavior?
  2. What do I think will happen if I don’t give into this behavior?
  3. Are the consequences of not giving into this urge more important than the consequences of giving into it? In other words if I engage in the behavior will the consequences be better or worse than if I do not engage in the behavior?
  4. Would it be possible for me to tolerate not giving into this urge?
  5. What is it that I am trying to avoid by giving into the behavior?
  6. Would I be willing to just be with whatever is here right now, at least for a while?
  7. Would it help if I took some time to breathe and get grounded in my body and let these thoughts go for the time being?
  8. What would be a better way to allow what is and take care of myself instead of run from it?
  9. What would it be like if I chose me instead of my addiction this time?

If you stop and take the time to ask these questions it is likely you will gain some insight into why the urge is so strong and why the need to give into it feels so important. It will also help you to see that although it may be uncomfortable to not engage in the behavior it is possible.

Blending Therapies

This form of self investigation incorporates the idea of mindfulness and cognitive therapy. Taking time to consider the questions, answer them honestly, stay in the present moment. That is what mindfulness is, present moment awareness, in this case awareness of thoughts and feelings. Paying attention to your answers can also give you a clue about  how rational the self talk is. For example, “I’m short on money, if I gamble I could win and have enough to pay these bills.”  Rational me knows that’s a pretty unlikely outcome.

Stopping to check in with the questions, for instance “Would I be willing to just be with whatever is here now?” If I can be at peace with the fear of not enough money, maybe even realize it’s temporary, I can get through this, start to let it sink in that if I go and lose it would actually be a worse situation. Learning to just be okay being with the uncomfortable feelings and thoughts, realizing at some point they will be lighter, gives me freedom.

Give It A Try

Wherever you are in the recovery process, cravings still come up for most people. I encourage you to write these questions down and carry them with you so that when the urge comes up you are prepared to sit with the questions. It would also be great to have some alternative actions to lower your stress level, self soothe, nurture yourself, or even something fun or playful to reward yourself for choosing you instead of giving your power to your addiction.

Different behaviors could be taking time to deep breathe, relax your body for 5 to 10 minutes visualization or guided meditation, taking a walk in nature, calling a friend, getting a coffee, going for a run, watching a favorite movie, or taking a bubble bath. Doing something different creates a pattern interrupt and helps break the hold of the behavior, every time you give into an urge it gets stronger.

Those few moments before you make a decision to give in to an urge is where you have some power. The questions allow you the time to let your rational brain come on board before your mid-brain takes over and remembers the positives of engaging in the behavior.  Commit to yourself to try something different the next time you have an urge or impulse to use.

Hope you enjoyed this article.

Peace and Joy on your Recovery Path!


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