It is virtually impossible for loving kindness and/or compassion and anger to be felt simultaneously. Albert Ellis, the psychologist who developed Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT), was a central figure in the emergence of cognitive behaviorally-oriented forms of psychotherapy, and is sometimes considered the godfather of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Ellis described the cognitive behavioral technique known as “emotional training” in strikingly similar terms. In emotional training, a person endeavors to replace his or her hostile feelings toward someone with positive feelings by recalling pleasant experiences associated with that individual along with the related feelings, and having those positive feelings supplant the anger. Consciously reframing situations that can evoke impulsive over-the top reactions is another way to displace personality challenges with spiritual principles. As mentioned before, all our experiences have a certain structure that includes the context (where we are, who we’re with, what’s happening around us), our expectations, and the interpretations or meanings we assign to it. Whenever there are changes to that structure, it causes changes in the subjective experience. Reframing is a communication technique that has its origins in the work of Milton Erickson, and is utilized in Neuro-linguistic Programming (NLP), among other psychotherapeutic models. Reframing consists of adjusting how we view a situation; looking at it from another perspective, with the result that it evokes a different meaning and new possibilities, translating to modified, usually more balanced, thoughts, feelings, and behavioral responses. For example, being stuck in traffic is naturally frustrating. Many people, especially when confronted by encroaching time constraints, (and who among us isn’t regularly subjected to time constraints) struggle in this scenario as anger rises and tempers flare. Personality challenges of impatience, rapid frustration, and escalation to anger are summoned to the fore, with our habitual behavioral reaction—the impulse to act out on them by cursing (perhaps hard to believe) loudly and repeatedly—in hot pursuit. We can utilize a handful of different recovery-related skills to adjust our response, including the Serenity Prayer, which modifies our perspective by framing the situation as being beyond our control, thereby shifting attention toward acceptance strategies. However, preferred self-intervention is to reframe and view the traffic as a message from that which is beyond our control and to mindfully slow down, and use the experience as an opportunity to practice the spiritual principles of patience, tolerance, and acceptance. Whenever we can do this, our conscious contact with these spiritual principles crowds out the relevant personality challenges, freeing us from their grip. It’s as if our internal operating system has been upgraded with new, better functioning software. Our breathing slows and deepens; the space between stimulus and response (so wonderfully described by Viktor Frankl) widens, and our conscious attention returns to the here and now. When we implement the values of slowing down and paying attention with intention, the effects carry over to all areas of our lives, including driving. When approaching an intersection with a yellow light, we are now more likely to slow down and prepare to stop than to accelerate in an attempt to beat the light before it turns red. The more we practice applying the spiritual principles of a program of recovery from addiction and chronic pain, the quicker we can become consciously aware that we can become caught up in a familiar unhealthy and unhelpful vortex. We can then make a conscious decision about how we want to act, rather than react unconsciously based on well worn reflexive patterns. This blog post is an excerpt from Some Assembly Required – A Balanced Approach to Recovery from Addiction and Chronic Pain by By Dan Mager, MSW; Published by Central Recovery Press (CRP). Add your thoughts and comments below and follow us on Facebook!