Overcome BarriersBy AmenClinics

There are so many people and societal influences out to sabotage your success.  Every day you will face obstacles that threaten to sabotage your brain healthy plans.  This is why the eleventh step of The Amen Solution @ Home focuses specifically on helping you overcoming barriers.

One of the best ways to keep your bad behaviors in check is to “H-A-L-T-S.”  H-A-L-T-S is an acronym that is commonly used in addiction treatment programs (Healing for the Soul added the fifth letter, “S,” several years ago), but it is also particularly helpful for people who have trouble coping with daily stress.  H-A-L-T-S stands for:

  • Don’t get too HUNGRY.
  • Don’t get too ANGRY.
  • Don’t get too LONELY.
  • Don’t get too TIRED.

H-A-L-T-S has proven to be a very effective way to keep people on track when they are trying to change their habits.

Don’t Get Too Hungry

Going too long without food lowers your blood sugar levels which can lead to a variety of emotional issues including feelings of anxiety and irritability. These may be the very emotions that trigger your overeating.

Low blood sugar levels are also associated with lower overall brain activity, which is linked to an increase in cravings and impulsivity. Heightened anxiety and irritability coupled with more intense cravings and impulsivity is a recipe for emotional overeating. Keeping your blood sugar levels even throughout the day is critical to keep you on track.

Here are some tips to keep your blood sugar levels from getting too low.

  • Eat a healthy breakfast—people who maintain weight loss eat a nutritious breakfast.
  • Have smaller meals throughout the day. Eating big meals spikes your blood sugar levels then causes them to crash later on.

Amen Solution @ Home Tip: Keep track of your eating habits in your online Food Journal to make sure you are eating often enough so you don’t let yourself get too hungry.

Don’t Get Too Angry

Uncontrolled anger can send you running to the cookie jar to calm your emotions. Here are some tips to help keep anger under control.

  • When you feel mad, write down your thoughts and ask yourself, “Is it true?”
  • Practice deep-breathing exercises.
  • Meditate. Just a few minutes of meditation can help you refocus your thinking.

Amen Solution @ Home Tip: Go to the ANTs game to talk back to your angry thoughts.  Visit the Relaxation Room to practice deep-breathing exercises or to meditate.

Don’t Get Too Lonely

Social skills and a positive social network are critical to your emotional well-being. Working on your current social situation is important to healing. Here are some tips to increase your social bonding.

  • Enlist a team of supporters and healthy role models.
  • Volunteer in your community.

Amen Solution @ Home Tip:  Invite friends, family, and coworkers to join you in living a brain healthy lifestyle by joining The Amen Solution @ Home.

Don’t Get Too Tired

A 2007 study found that sleep deprivation caused the emotional centers of the brain to become 60 percent more reactive to negative emotional stimuli. That means your brain simply can’t cope as well with stressful situations, leading to worse moods, more anxiety, greater irritability, increased anger, and more frustration. And when your emotions are running wild, you are more apt to run to the refrigerator for solace.

In addition, lack of sleep lowers overall brain function, which leads to more bad decisions. Several studies have shown that lack of sleep leads to higher calorie intake and higher consumption of refined carbohydrates, which as you learned in the Don’t Get Too Hungry section, causes blood sugar levels to spike and then crash.

If you routinely have trouble sleeping, I suggest keeping a sleep journal for at least a few weeks. Make copies of the following chart to track your sleep. It can help you pinpoint everyday habits that might be contributing to the problem.

Make sleep a priority to boost brain function, moods, and energy levels, and to improve judgment and self-control. Here are ten ways to make it easier to drift off to dreamland and get a good night’s sleep. Remember that we are all unique individuals and what works for one person may not work for another. Keep trying new techniques until you find something that works.

  • Maintain a regular sleep schedule—going to bed at the same time each night and waking up at the same time each day, including on weekends. Get up at the same time each day regardless of sleep duration the previous night.
  • Create a soothing nighttime routine that encourages sleep. A warm bath, meditation, or massage can help you relax.
  • Some people like to read themselves to sleep. If you are reading, make sure it isn’t an action-packed thriller or a horror story—they aren’t likely to help you drift off to sleep.
  • Don’t take naps! This is one of the biggest mistakes you can make if you have insomnia. Taking naps when you feel sleepy during the day compounds the nighttime sleep cycle disruption.

Amen Solution @ Home Tip:  Visit the Relaxation Room for tools to help you sleep better.  Consider supplements that help you sleep, such as melatonin, valerian, magnesium, and B6, found in Restful Sleep.

Don’t Get Too Sick, Sad, Stressed, Scared, or Shameful.

While these emotions are part of the human condition, it is important not to allow them to swing our emotional state to the extreme tempting us to “act out.”

Being prepared for these unplanned barriers is the key to overcoming them which is why the Amen Solution @ Home provides you with not only the full H-A-L-T system, but also a variety of other protocols to help you overcome obstacles.

Destiny Arrives and We Show Up

I never wanted to be a sex addict. I never asked for it, and I certainly never intended it to take hold of my life the way it did. In fact, getting addicted to anything was the furthest thing from my mind. But when I realized how serious my problem was, all I wanted then was to recover from my addictions, because I was afraid I might die. However, through the ongoing process of my recovery, I have received so much more than I ever wanted or thought I might receive. The healing of my addictions has been, and continues to be, an incredible journey leading me into a radical kind of personal transformation. I have changed and I continue to change, gaining wisdom and insight that I could never get from a book, in a classroom or from another person.

I once thought of myself as a physical being trying to have spiritual experiences, but now I think of myself as a spiritual being that lives out physical experiences in ways God designed for me to live. As a man who has been sexually addicted, and having offered myself to God, I have become the most blessed of all men.

A New Purpose

As my recovery continues, gratitude for my addictions grows. I have learned to think of my addictions as preparation. I call them pre-recovery preparation. They have helped me become the kind of man who embodies the progressive prodigal experience of selfishness, disaster, desperation, hopeless cries for help, discovery of God’s gracious power to change, and a life resurrected. There was no better plan for me. Now today, having used up every resource of my own, I recognize my purpose in life is to seek, discover and experience God as Jesus Christ knows God, and as I receive the benefits of knowing God, I encourage others to seek, discover and experience God for themselves. We are all prodigals in one way or another, after all.

I am humbly proud of my growth and the growth of the other people who share their recovery with me. We are well prepared to do good business with God and with other people. God has a future for each of us that is uniquely designed for us by Him. When following His plan, we are well equipped to give goodness and love to whomever we encounter.

Now I still consider myself a sex addict. And I need to admit that my brain makes a spontaneous wrong turn every now and then, creating a conflict of impulse and desire inside me. Recovery has taught me that temptation is not a calamity. Temptation reminds me that I am a man at risk and that I must remain diligent in my recovery work and spiritual disciplines. The only thing insuring my recovery is the maintenance of my spiritual submission to God. He alone has the power to keep me safe and secure from my own selfish nature.

Sometimes, the feelings and temptations I experience are uncomfortable; other times, they are miserable. Nevertheless, no matter how conflicted I feel, I continue to admit that I am powerless over my addictions and that it is only through the life-changing power of Jesus Christ, that I will continue recovering from them. Each time I feel the urge to chase after my addicted — and attractive — way of life but do not, the impulses and compulsions that accompany these temptations lose some of their power. New attachments for goodness are established inside me with each obedient moment, ultimately gaining strength over the old disobedient ways. Moreover, I lose interest in my own life compared to the expanding joy of sharing God and His life with others. I prefer taking the personal spiritual revolution God has given me, and blessing the whole world with it.

Possessed by God

The gift of new life is not without a cost. I claim no ownership rights for this life God gives me — I am owned and possessed by God. Being aware of His grace gives me the gift of gratitude, which nourishes my new desires making every area of my life an act of surrender and worship. Through the grace of the Giver, I enjoy His gifts, and I become His as well. The gifts He gives to me are only mine to hold, to enjoy and to pass along.

“You can’t keep it unless you give it away.”

Alcoholics Anonymous

What started with Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith, two alcoholics helping each other stay sober, has resulted in a movement that helps millions of people recover from alcoholism and drug addiction. AA has also spawned the Al-Anon movement, which helps millions of codependents and addicted families worldwide. Just like Bill Wilson and Dr. Smith, in recovery we become a gift to each other and to the world one moment, one situation, one person at a time. The greatest needs of our day will not be met by counselors, doctors and professionals. They will be met by recovering people like you and me.

We are grateful leaders in pain suffered and humble leaders in recovery gained. We are men and women who have joined the fight for our own lives and for the lives of others as well. The great need in our world remains the same today as it has always been: godly men and women who display a quality of character and life that ignites a desire in others to know God in a way that changes them from the inside out. We have an important role to play and no one can live out this role better than we can. We call to anyone who is dead and dying in his or her struggles, problems, addictions and sins. We say to them, “Come with us, we are going to God. We are going to Life.” Everyone needs what we have.

Those of us who are strong and able in the faith need to step in and lend a hand to those who falter, and not just do what is most convenient for us. Strength is for service, not status. Each one of us needs to look after the good of the people around us, asking ourselves, “How can I help?” Romans 15:1 MSG

We want to live well, but our foremost efforts should be to help others live well. I Corinthians 10:24 MSG