For the next several chapters, we will present a way for you to understand your past and present in a way that can motivate you to make a positive life transformation. It is vital to understand that the Freedom Model does not present lessons in the same manner as a therapist might. You alone decide what you will write in your upcoming autobiography and you alone decide how severely negative thinking has affected your life.
...As you review the charts from the preceding chapter you can identify the challenges you will need to address. You know you have certain thoughts and emotions that bring you pain as well as others that bring happiness. In order to attain a quality of life that is better than the one you have now, a process of replacement must occur.
You have a certain level of negative emotions and thoughts. People's personal limits of negative emotion vary. Before an eventual overload occurs, most can handle a relatively high degree of negative emotions. You may be someone on the edge of the abyss, staring at the negative column on your chart and feeling overwhelmed. But there is no reason for this; the brain can only cognitively process one thought or concept at a time. So, we will constantly encourage you to move in a positive direction, slowly creating a neuroplastic change in your brain. This will be especially obvious as you complete the autobiographical process that deals with learning from your past, and move into the Life Movements Workbook which is devoted completely to building a more positive future.
The autobiographical process will make your desire for change a supported progression away from fear, anxiety and depression. It will replace those emotions and thoughts with positive problem-solving capability and increased self-confidence. This is not theoretical speculation. Sixty-two percent (62%) of our guests who complete our residential educational program remain sober and drug free.
Your Comparison Chart (7.3) from Chapter 7 should provide you with a clear picture of your mind and emotions. The list on the left shows your positive thoughts and emotions that go with the axioms, while the list on the right shows your negative thoughts and emotions which are counter to the universal truths. What is most important to understand when comparing the two categories is that every person has an infinite capacity for positive thought, thoughts that are in accord with the five axioms, but has a limited capacity for those items in the negative column.
For example, you never hear someone complain, "I am just too happy. I certainly hope this happiness doesn't last very long." People do complain that, "Life is too hard; I can't take it anymore!" when they are feeling stress and strife. Misery's allotment has a limit, but joy has none. When something finite is compared to something infinite, the finite becomes very, very small. When comparing infinite joy to finite human-created misery, misery is tiny in comparison. This is important. When you dedicate yourself to the process of change, any aspect of your life that gives little return on investment can be abandoned and replaced with activities and thoughts that promote joy. It's your choice.
...Time to Analyze, Time to Let Go
If you look at your life, minus the alcohol and drugs, you are no different from everyone else. Your concentration on limited options may have caused you to be unhappy. When someone brings up your self-created tunnel vision, a defensive response is a natural reaction. However, you might want to allow for the possibility that there are many positive aspects to the world that you know little about. Try to keep an open heart and mind. Just because you don't want to look out the window does not mean that a beautiful sunset is not there for you to see.
The primary reason it is important for you to acknowledge that your self-consuming fears are no different from those of the population at large is so you can eliminate your excuse to fail. You no longer have the excuse of a unique, permanent disorder. Everyone on the planet wrestles with fear and selfishness to one degree or another. True, your levels of fear and selfishness may be greater than many, but that does not change the fact that your problems can be solved with courage and a willingness to change.
...In the next few chapters we will explain how writing an autobiography will help you discover your destructive patterns. Your autobiography will serve as the first tangible evidence that you are ready to get rid of your current counterproductive thought processes and victim-centered mentality.
You have a lot of work ahead of you. Your eyes must be opened to the reality of your past poor choices. Progress will be as rapid as the pace you set. There is a balance between making yourself happy and making others happy. You certainly cannot impart happiness on others if you have none in your own life. People cannot give away that which they do not have.
If, at this point, you understand that your problems are caused by decisions you have made then you are ready to move forward. The process of building your new life cannot begin until you are ready to take responsibility for all of your past choices and actions. This empowers you to make your future whatever you choose.