Hungry? Angry? Lonely? Tired?
The simple H.A.L.T. system has been used by addiction-recovery circles for many, many years.
Because it works so very well in helping anyone regain emotional balance if they’ve become overly self-neglectful. HALT as most will know is a German word for STOP. With German heritage in my genes, I deeply love the simplicity and wisdom in this recovery acronym. I choose to imagine my German great-grandmother Dorathea, one of the very first German pioneers in Australia’s Barossa Valley, tapping me on the heart with maternal love whispering …
“HALT, my darlink,” when I get emotionally chaotic.
The H.A.L.T. system reminds us to bloody well just STOP doing and start being more emotionally present to ourselves and review basic self-care.
So what does H.A.L.T. stand for? …
H. is for “hunger.” If we consistently neglect our appetite we throw our whole system out of balance. Hunger is an instinctive urge we can suppress and ignore all we like, but our lives will inevitably present a bill.
Both Eastern philosophers and Western clinicians agree that consistently dicking around with our natural appetite to nourish ourselves (an organic passion) disturbs our emotional wellbeing. The pleasure we are hard-wired to experience relating to food and natural appetite is also linked to our libido pleasure-arousal centres. Human libido is aroused by intimacy, both sexual and emotional. If we block both, we become either intimately constipated or get so ravenously emotionally “hungry” that we binge on unhealthy emotional-relationship choices. Junk food, crap health. Desperation-driven relationships, crap intimacy.
However, in my experience working with anorexics, bulimics, elite athletes, recovering addicts and obsessive dieters there is no one size fits all approach to food. Once we become willing to STOP running from our fears and self-punishment habits about what we really believe we deserve and face them, neglect is replaced with nurturing.
When we STOP trying to control our natural passionate instincts for physical and emotional nourishment our life slowly finds a new freedom and individuated natural balance. It takes time. Those with subtle or chronic food issues, in my 20 years of experience, also have subtle to chronic intimacy issues. The big questions to STOP and ask those out of balance with emotional or physical hunger is …
“What are you really hungry for? No, really.”
A. is for “anger.” If we consistently neglect our healthy emotional-alarm system that includes feeling angry from time to time, we also throw our whole system out of balance. Anger, like hunger, is an instinctive urge we can suppress and ignore all we like, but our lives once again will inevitably present a bill. Unprocessed anger will make us physically sick through stress-related diseases, or alternatively emotionally unwell as anger turned inward becomes a form of depression.
Some of us are afraid or ashamed to own our anger, as it has been wrongly labelled, confused with rage, violence, neglect, cruelty and abuse in our past. Anger is none of theses states. Rage, violence, neglect, cruelty and abuse arise from suppressed anger and unacknowledged loss. Our anger is always about loss of something we love in some form.
Whenever I work in prisons or detention centres with very angry inmates the first question I start with is …
“What have you lost in your life that you’re still bloody angry about?”
L is for LONELY. The person we have been looking for all our lives is …
Many people confuse company for emotional connection. If we don’t know how to sustain a quality emotional connection with ourselves in solitude, loneliness will become a constant state following us in and out of relationships throughout our lives. I have encountered many clients and friends that feel deep loneliness within marriages and friendships.
The habit of self-abandonment creates a sense of loneliness, unless we STOP and become willing to make big changes. Building emotional muscle when we are alone is how we face and honour ourselves. This means really being a bloody great friend and fun company with ourselves, by ourselves. Becoming more emotionally available to ourselves replaces shame with compassion and we start to dissolve loneliness.
Sometimes of course we need a hug, affection, attention and another to laugh and cry with. But if we’re unable to snuggle ourselves into bed, tend to our personal needs, laugh at ourselves and cry with ourselves when without company, our heart remains closed. If our heart’s door is closed, we are inaccessible. I often ask those struggling with consistent loneliness …
“When was the last time you respectfully asked someone you care about for a hug, snuggle, kiss or to hold hands?”
Even better I suggest the lonely try reaching out more. Yes, that takes real emotional muscle to respectfully initiate a hug, give a heartfelt smile for no reason or gently intertwine fingers and kiss palms.
And last but not least T is for “tired.” Sometimes we are just plain tired. Sometimes we don’t require sleep, but rest. For if we don’t or won’t surrender our busyness and rest we become restless.
So as we review the wonderful word STOP and the H.A.L.T. acronym, let us remember to take some deliberate “time in” with ourselves and “time out” from everyone and everything else.
If we don’t or simply will not check in to see if deep down we are hungry, angry, lonely or tired we become the dreaded … “bossyfussbum.”
A good meal, a gentle and supportive heart to share and honour our anger with and a big, long hug or snooze will work wonders. Only when we STOP the busy world’s external noise, we can hear our heart’s gentle and wise intuitive messages. As Rumi reminds us …
“There is a voice that doesn’t use words, listen.”
Lotsa love Cynthia xxx
© Copyright 2016 Cynthia J. Morton Emotional Fitness™
This Word Vitamin is an excerpt from my latest bookset “The Four Seasons of the Heart”. If you would like to order your own full set of Daily Word Vitamins one for each day of the year, in book form for yourself or as a gift just click on the SHOP tab and place your order.