The Triggering Effect Part 2: Romanticizing the Behaviors

Romanticizing using behaviors forgetting about the negative consequences.

Posted Oct 16, 2009

This is part two of The Triggering Effect.

Romanticizing involves a tunnel focus on the positive feelings you associate with the behavior, it involves glamorizing using behaviors and, in the moment, totally forgetting about the negative consequences.

When I get overwhelmed about my life today, I find myself calling a few old buddies and reminiscing about the 'good old times.' Well, let me tell you about those times - I was young, married with two kids, and my wife was unhappy with me because I wasn't keeping a job while she was working two. I was doped up a lot and would get on my motorcycle and take off for days at a time, lost in my drugs. I wasn't responsible or accountable to anyone. I was just into me.
So now, in recovery, it is scary to realize I am accountable to my two kids and to my girlfriend today. It's depressing to look at the financial mess I made as a result of my drinking and using, so I go back into moments of glorifying the old times, to forget about the fears I have about
how to handle my responsibilities.

Getting overwhelmed at times is to be expected, but it's very easy to slip into romanticizing without any insight as to how you got there. At that moment, you enter a slippery zone, touching the trigger. While romanticizing is itself a trigger, it often occurs in tandem with an external trigger such as noises, sights, sounds or even tastes. You could be watching a movie and the next thing you know it is depicting the power of alcohol, drugs and sex in a positive way, and you are romanticizing. Or you're listening to the radio and an advertisement for a drug comes on, and you think about your pain pills as the commercial goes on to tell you how much better you'll feel, and off you go. Or you're watching a ball game on TV and can almost smell the popcorn and peanuts, and you see the spectators drinking large cups of beer and everyone is smiling like it's only a good time.

Take a few moments to think about how you romanticize your addictive behavior. What do you find yourself thinking about? What is the romanticizing covering up? What are you forgetting to take into account?

Look for the next part on The Triggering Effect which will focus on Resentments.

In the meantime you have options:

  1. Practice staying in the present; don't sit in the past or project into the future.
  2. Validate the gifts of recovery for the day - practice gratitude daily.
  3. Identify, build and use a support system - you need to stay connected. History and experience have proven time and time again that recovery is not a solitary process and cannot be sustained in isolation.
  4. Trust your Higher Power is on your side.