Recovery from addiction involves change. Addiction convinces you that you cannot change, that anything you undertake is doomed, and that life is not worthwhile. Recovery makes hopes and dreams for a better life possible. Visualization is a tool to help shift from addictive thoughts to positive attitudes for recovery Meditations, guided imageries, affirmations, and relaxation techniques may use visualization. You can create visualizations to improve any area of your life-relationships, job or career, self-image, serenity, health, or spirituality.

Before you can use visualizations effectively, you must be able to relax and clear your mind. The module on Relaxation in this guide has suggestions you can use. Stress management, relaxation, or meditation techniques may help.

Creating Visualizations

Shakti Gawain (1978) has a clear, practical, optimistic guide for using visualization techniques. Her philosophies and suggestions are quite compatible with working a Twelve-Step recovery program.

Gawain says the four basic steps of creating visualizations are:

  • Set your goal. Make it something you can believe in, that is a realistic challenge. This will increase your chance of success.
  • Create a clear idea or picture. See it as if it were already existing, with as many details as possible.
  • Focus on it often. Take time to visualize your goal at least two or three times a day. Try to let it take shape, naturally, without trying too hard.
  • Give it positive energy. Use positive affirmations to state your belief in your goal. Let the negative thoughts gently float away.

Don’t be discouraged if you have trouble seeing clear images when you try to visualize. For many, it is a learned skill. At first you may simply have thoughts, impressions, or feelings. Any use of your imagination is a good start.

Be patient. Your goals may change. Your Higher Power or Program may have something better in store for you than you can now imagine. As long as you are working your Program, trusting in your Higher Power, and staying abstinent, moderate, clean, or sober, your use of visualization techniques can enhance your recovery.

Visualizations, see also: Assertiveness, Body image, Celebrations, Coping skills, Half-measures, Moderation, Money, Nutrition, Relapse prevention, Sabotage of recovery, Self-image, Stress & strain, Therapy & treatment, Tools of recovery.

Updated 27 Sep 2015

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Addictionary 2 by Jan & Judy Wilson

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