Day 42, and I have been reading up on visualisation techniques (that's visualization for my friends on the other side of the pond).
Visualisation has been around for centuries, and has roots in meditation, prayer and hypnotherapy. Many top sportspeople use visualisation, and Arnold Schwarzenegger famously took the visualisation techniques he used in body building and applied them to acting and politics.
Arnie says: "I visualized myself being and having what it was I wanted. Before I had my first Mr Universe title, I walked around the tournament like I owned it. I had won it so many times in my mind that there was no doubt I would win it. Then I moved onto the movies, the same thing. I visualized myself being a famous actor and earning big money. I just knew it would happen."
Think about the improbability of a scarily pumped up Austrian with an unintelligible accent becoming Governor of California, and you start to think that maybe there's something in this visualisation malarkey.
There are 3 ways to use visualisation on the road to getting and staying sober. The first is in relaxation and stress relief. The idea is that around wine o'clock, instead of thinking about pinot grigio, you find a quiet spot (like in a hot bath) and imagine yourself in your 'happy place'. Try and use all your senses - smell, feeling, sounds, colours, taste. Cravings only last ten minutes, so this can help you ride the storm.
My current favourite 'happy places' are: (1) On a deserted beach on Koh Samui with Buck the Texan (see Sober in Switzerland for the full story) (2) On the back of a horse galloping along the Cornish headland with my arms wrapped around the rippling, glistening six pack of Poldark (only my English friends will get that one) and, my favourite (3) In a calorie free cup cake bakery with the gorgeous husband and kids. What's yours?
The second way to use visualisation is the Arnie way - to imagine your future success. Here you picture yourself where you want to be in a year's (pick your own timeframe) time. My future visualisation is of a sober, skinny, beautifully dressed and groomed me, at the book launch of my soon-to-be-bestselling novel, surrounded by friends, family and my proud, happy, well behaved and well adjusted kids.
Future visualisations are believed to help with focus, confidence, motivation and self esteem. Knowing what you are working towards and really believing it can happen is the first step to changing your life. There are even those who claim that visualising a positive future can actually make it happen. This is referred to as the 'law of attraction.' It sounds like poppycock, but there are many studies showing that people who think positively have more positive outcomes, and vice versa.
But my favourite way of using visualisation is what I refer to as the 'kick ass method'. Alan Carr suggests visualising your cravings, or your 'inner addict', as a writhing snake or a monster. Every time you deny the snake a drink it dies a little. You have to keep going until it's well and truly despatched. One small sip and it leaps back into life.
In a similar vein, we all talk about the 'wine witch'. It's easier to beat your inner addict when you picture it as a vile, manipulative crone and not just your own subconscious. I like to take this one step further and imagine myself in 'kick ass' persona, battling with, and beating the enemy with great style and panache.
I first used this technique when I was promoted to the board of my Ad Agency. When I went into board meetings as the youngest, and one of the only female members, I would picture myself as Madonna circa 1987 wearing one of those cone tipped bras and leather hotpants. I also imagined that my nipples could fire laser guns on demand. Needless to say, I swaggered into those meetings with far more panache and confidence than I'd have had without Madge.
Apologies to Madonna, to whom I will always be grateful, but I have updated her. I am now Khaleesi from the Game of Thrones. Khaleesi - aka Daenerys Targaryen, Mother of Dragons - strong, wise and beautiful. You would never, ever see Khaleesi reach for the Chablis when in a spot of trouble. Oh no! She would let loose her army of Unsullied. Khaleesi would never have a problem overcoming a little addiction. This woman can walk through flames and come out unscathed!
So whenever the wine witch comes tapping on my shoulder, I picture Khaleesi and let lose my three dragons, burning the evil bitch to a cinder without hesitation or wavering. (n.b. it's important to ignore the end of Season 4 when Khaleesi's dragons turn bad and start frying small children).
You know where I'll be on Monday evening? Series 5 of Game of Thrones starts in the UK on Sky Atlantic. I'll be on the sofa with my hot chocolate cheering on Khaleesi as she gets ever closer to the iron throne.
Happy hangover free Sunday to you all.
Love SM x
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