written by 'Kate', a SMART Recovery Professional Adviser
Thought I'd share a little detail about how I helped increase the odds that I'd notice the opportunity to be inspired by a heron's graceful flight, as happened for me recently.
This is what I call my 'Focused Attention-Selection Tool' or 'FAST' for short. It often gets fairly fast & nice results! Without negative side-effects!
I sometimes use FAST to help myself get the most out of my thoughts, feelings, and experiences. FAST is a learned habit that directs the attention of my senses to sights or sounds that feel good and also help me get a better grasp on something I am presently learning.
These sights and sounds are all around us, the trick is to notice them. For practice, pay attention whenever possible to all the different views you can get of the moon, like when it is high or low in the sky or how its colors and shape seem different one night to the next. Pay attention, also, to how you feel when you notice one or another change in the moon's appearance. (Or is it the stars that stand out to you at night? If you Focus, you'll find out.) FAST is not about 'remembering to smell the flowers,' however [though there is never anything wrong with that!--Don].
Sometimes, as you all know, it's not easy to get Thoughts, Feelings, Intentions (goals), or Actions all in sync. By 'in sync,' I mean, getting these aspects of 'being me' working-together to create a harmony and rhythm that I really like, that I can dance to -- that I can live to. FAST can be especially beneficial at times we would really prefer NOT to stop, change, or interrupt strong feelings. Rather, we might prefer on some occasions to deeply experience and learn from emotion, feel it but not be overwhelmed or frightened by it. At times like this in the past, I myself might have chosen to drink.
After I figured out that I was not willing to pay the high costs of my drinking habit, I began seeking, discovering, and learning other ways to enhance the emotions that can happen during important or especially meaningful moments or events.
I used to drink, partly at least, to protect myself from my (irrational) fear of being overwhelmed or frightened by the sheer intensity or strength of my emotions. Disputing the irrational beliefs which kept that fear alive, and discovering the benefits of Focused Attention-Selection, have worked well together, in my personal 'tool box.' Having FAST down as a good strong habit now (after lots of practice) helps to ensure that I won't miss inspiring, comforting, or empowering sights, like that heron sailing with such ease and grace over the water. FAST helps me be sure I won't miss out on the potential meaningful-ness of my emotions.
Anyone can learn to make frequent choices about where to direct your Attention. Before long, Focused Attention-Selection can become one of those automated coping tools, those processes that don't use 'much RAM' or conscious effort. In other words, FAST can become a habit. (Some habits make for health and happiness! What a deal!)
With my eyes, ears, and mind open, FAST guarantees that I won't miss out on the benefits of the best sights and sounds in the world around me. Like that heron's flight.
It helps to remember: Self-management includes much more than will-power or discipline! Self-Mangement And Recovery Training, i.e. SMART, is really as much about moving toward what we want, as it is about moving away from what we no longer want. For example, I want to continue moving toward sights, sounds, people, & experiences that are inspiring... that help me comprehend, learn from, or build upon, the meaningful-ness of my life. I have a desire to move toward opportunities. You may have similar or other desires, about what you wish to move toward in your life.
After a couple years of abstinence, I no longer think like I used to, about how to get away from drinking and its hurtful consequences. Now, like many others, I think mostly about how to move toward that which enhances my life.
So, if you're ever struggling with DISPUTEs or ABCs or CBAs[ [SMART Recovery self-management tools], you might take a moment to Focus, so you can quickly scan the world around you, and then shift your Attention to where you like it. Hold it there for a long moment. Now enjoy the results, as you return to whatever you were about.
You'll soon learn where to look or listen, how to turn your senses to that which is most soothing or inspiring or exciting (whichever you're most needing will stand right out for you, with only a little practice). Result? You'll probably have more success with your efforts to make SMART tools and the 4-Point concepts work for you. And... more and more you'll find yourself focusing on your freedom to create the life of your dreams.