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  • Writer's pictureMike and Glenn

Heartache Prevention

We heard of a man who built a house across the street from an airport, who constantly complained about the noise—another who stayed in a burning house too long and died.  And then the one who continued to the bar couldn't figure out why he couldn't stop drinking.

We have repeatedly found ourselves in situations, in places, and in toxic relationships that caused us pain.  We often fail to move, to get out of the way of the hurt. Too often, we put ourselves there, mentally and/or physically.

This post addresses the messes we get ourselves into and suggests getting ourselves out of positions of struggle, discomfort, and danger.

Starting with the fact that every action results from a thought, we had to train ourselves to become hyper-aware of the thoughts clanging away in our brains.  For us, much of the noise is trash – conflicting with our guiding values, principles, and true purpose. 

We have no idea how the brain works. What we do know is that, for these guys, it manufactures clatter constantly.  Where this racket comes from is almost always a mystery.  Much of what pops up is random. Some are pleasurable and positive, and some are neutral or negative.  What we know is that we can’t stop the sound.  These heads are on and cranking almost 24 total hours per 24 hours. 

In the past, we allowed these obscure thoughts to grow, taking on their own lives, and they drove our actions.  That led us through the repeating cycle of making bad decisions, then acting badly, and suffering the consequences of such. 

Today, we are learning to pause. To take a deep breath or two.  We check off our thoughts and feelings as either legitimate or destructive.  Do these thoughts support our purpose?  Are they healthy or harmful? 

We aim to acknowledge the thought for what it is.  To try and understand where it is coming from and to chart the best response.  We check its validity – as so often it is formed of fallacy – an assumption of a scenario with no basis.  Left unprocessed, we near the danger of responding in a way that doesn’t support our true north. 

Sometimes, the thoughts come too rapid to process, and we need additional devices to deflect us from possible pitfalls.  We, at times, turn to old-school pen and paper to lay out the situation, to paint a picture that spells out the origins, actions, and likely outcomes.  This may seem tedious, but it has proven to be a solid investment in minutes spent versus a lifetime of regret.  

Change of setting is also an effective act that takes minimal effort but has maximum benefit. Get up and walk away.  Stroll through a park.  Take a run.  Listen to a song (not “Highway to Hell”)  Go serve somebody.  Take a nap.  Just get away from the origin of the uneasiness.

Another valuable tool we have picked up along the way is to tap into our supportive community.  When thoughts, particularly negative ones, turn into mental action plans, we pick up the phone or contact a third party to confirm our planned approach.   This goes against our instinct as we are go-it-alone creatures, but we have learned that accountability and wise counsel trump pride if our heart desires good mental health and better living.

When the natural is not available, we turn to the supernatural.  Truth be told, this is where we should start in the first place.  Prayer delivers peace if performed with intent.  It is hard to be heavy after spending time with the creator of the universe. Rightfully humbling ourselves and our situations to His care is a message that is repeated in 12-step recovery. 

To be clear, one's supernatural does not have to be the supernatural for all. We found a power greater than ourselves and put our faith, trust, and hope there. This, we were told, was the linchpin for successful sobriety. It has worked well for us for some time, and we earnestly pray that it works for the reader of this post.

The man can choose to move away from the airport, to leave the burning house, and to go to a meeting instead of the tavern.  We can choose to manage the head trash, make an effort to become aware of where it is coming from and where it is going, pause, acknowledge the emotion, write the scenario out, pick up the phone, and/or pray.

Today, we have tools at our disposal - We simply need to use them.

We have the power to prevent heartache and calamity by taking swift action.  Simple tools allow us to move away from trash and tragedy and move closer to the pleasures and treasures that await us.



Thoughts and ideas for this blog post were taken and built upon from podcast #42  titled "Head Trash" - What is it... and How to Deal...” The session dropped on 1/19/2022….Click here to hear the podcast. 


Alcoholics Anonymous and AA are registered trademarks of Alcoholics World Service. Inc. References to AA, the 12 steps, and 12 traditions does not mean that AA has reviewed or approved the contents of this publication nor that AA agrees with the views expressed herein. This publication is intended to support personal growth and should not be considered a substitute for healthcare professionals' advice. The author’s advice and viewpoints are their own.




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