ADDICTIONS: Calming Your Brain When Upset-Part Three

In Part One and Two we talked about the importance of knowing when our relational circuits are on or off and what to do when they are off.  Deliberately going to an appreciation moment is the easiest and quickest way to calm our brains when we are upset, enabling us to get our RC’s back on. Turning to Jesus is, of course, the best way, but appreciation can often times be less difficult and less threatening.  And it works for everyone.

 In Part Two we talked about how our relational circuits can go off when something from the past triggers us in the present, but we do not know the feelings are coming from a past trauma.  Appreciation will help us calm there as well and going to Jesus for healing of the past trauma will defuse the trigger.  All of these exercises enhance our relationships and help keep us from hurting someone we love when the RC’s are off and/or we are triggered. For Part Three, I want to talk about how addictions fit with brain science, the RC’s and healing.

Thanks to Ed Khouri of Thriving: Recover Your Life  for some of this information. His material is excellent and cutting edge as he brings brain science and inner healing together to combat addictions. I highly recommend Ed’s material as the best on the globe right now.

There is a place in the brain where we attach with one another and when this area is healthy and filled with joyful relationships we have a better life.  If we did not have a secure attachment growing up, in the absence of a joyful relationship, this part of our brain will grab onto anything that helps us feel better when we feel pain.  This takes place subconsciously. Eventually, because the someone or something helps us feel better, we began to rely on it to regulate emotions and avoid pain, affecting the entire brain.

Ed Khouri  has named the things we attach to when missing a secure attachment BEEPS:  Behaviors, Events, Experiences, People, Substances. When BEEPS are used to regulate pain or pleasure, they can take over the attachment center of the brain and alter how it functions.

BEEPS covers a wide range of things that one can attach to such as work, thrill seeking, food, sex and co-dependent relationships, not just drugs or alcohol.  What most people who talk about addictions are missing is that what we are really craving is loving and joy-filled relationships.  We want to be connected and not feel alone.  Feeling alone, or fear of being alone, is often a reason people turn to a BEEPS.

Because we are made for joy-filled relationships and that is what we are really craving, we can see the connection to noticing and keeping on our relational circuits.  When they go off, we are no longer connected in love, joy and peace. When the RC’s are off, we live from the back of our brain where we are motivated by fear, fear of failure and avoiding pain—the exact conditions that make addicts turn to their BEEPS.  (Ed Khouri says that in addictions, failure means not having, or being separated from, what I’m addicted to.)  Since a very young age, without a secure and loving attachment, they have turned to something else to feel better.  It is the “drug of choice” whether a substance or one of the other BEEPS.

What a person craving a BEEPS needs is peace and connection and belonging.  The program that Ed has put together trains the brain with joy-filled belonging.  This builds capacity in the brain to help prevent overwhelm and keep the RC’s on, resulting in less need to “medicate to regulate.”  

Along with retraining the brain in joy-filled relationships, anyone with an addiction needs inner healing of unresolved traumas.  These are causing pain, whether conscious or unconscious, that the person has learned to avoid through the BEEPS.  Triggers from the past can make the RC’s go off and set up the conditions that turn one to their BEEPS.  Appreciation can turn them back on.  What if every sponsor of an addict could know his person’s appreciation memory name (Part I) and use it to help the person reset their nervous system, get relational and then talk about whatever was bothering them? Ed Khouri says this:  “When the RC’s are off, trying to deal with people is a lot like driving a car while drunk.  It’s like telling T-Rex to wait until later to eat his snack.”  (THRIVE Conference, April 2, 2011)  Exercising the will may work to end the use of the BEEPS, but quite often, just stopping the addiction does not change anything else. People need training in how to calm their body, mind and soul.

In summary, learning the brain science for relationships is vital.  Relating to each other without relational circuits online makes no sense at all.  Not noticing that my emotions and actions are being triggered from a past unresolved trauma and believing that person in front of me is the problem is a solvable issue. Everyone has appreciation memories and moments, even people who do not know the Lord.  So I highly encourage all of us to notice and own when our RC’s are off, seek healing for unresolved issues, and warmly encourage each other to turn to appreciation when upset.

For more information on any of the three parts see


About Barbara Moon

I am an ordinary person who walks with an extraordinary God. I love to share what He has done in my life. I love to help parents with their kid questions. I love to teach little ones to swim. I love to study and learn new things and for the last ten years I have been focusing on how the brain works in connection with joyful relationships, how that affects development, maturity and trauma recovery. When not writing, my days are full of family, (especially grandchildren), mentoring, counseling, sewing, and reading.
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One Response to ADDICTIONS: Calming Your Brain When Upset-Part Three

  1. julimay says:

    Loved this! So great to hear it again and again. It’s a process – learning appreciation. I hope to make it a lifestyle. Thanks for sharing.

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