What is The Rewind?

The Rewind is a method to help give you a little more control and a little more real time awareness of your thoughts and emotions, especially the ones that at times seem out of control.  If you happen to have anger issues, or what I call “snap anger”, then The Rewind is for you.  Been clean and sober for a few months but had a bit of a “hiccup” in your recovery? Then The Rewind is for you.  Have a mood disorder that you can’t seem to get under control?  Then The Rewind is for you.

So, how does it work, and what do I do?

What’s really nice about this process is that it will take me longer to explain it in this article than it will to actually do the intervention on yourself.  It’s really quite simple.

What we’re going to do is imagine a 100 point scale, with 0 on the left end, and 100 on the right.  Just to the right of the 100 will be an extra part of the scale that we will label “Red Zone.”  The process is simple.  Let’s look at anger problems.  Let’s say you’re talking to a friend, and you were in a decent mood when the conversation started, but all of a sudden you’re in a rage.  You’re yelling and screaming and name calling.  Perhaps your friend is doing the same.  After all the smoke clears from the argument, you look back and think “well, that was stupid.”  

Perhaps you can identify why you were upset, and even what triggered you.  So you tell yourself that you’re going to behave differently next time, only to end up in another screaming match over the same stupid issue.  When you look back(hindsight) you have some of the same thoughts as before, except this time you start thinking you’re doomed to repeat the same behavior because you can’t seem to stop it.  This process continues, causing further problems in your life despite your best efforts.  So now let’s use the rewind.

Remember that 100 point scale I told you to imagine?  What I want you to first do is something you’ve always been able to do, which is look back at the event(hindsight).  We’re going to tweak your hindsight just a little bit by adding something.  What I want you to do is find a high intensity point, and a low intensity point, and put a number to it(why there’s a 100 point scale).  How you do this is find a point of reference during the event/conflict.  The point of reference DOES NOT have to be a trigger or a cause.  It’s simply something that was going on that reminds you that you were at a particular intensity level at a particular time.  

For example, let’s say in rewinding through the event you remembered that you got a text message from your mother, and when you think about it, you would say you were at an 86 out of 100.  That would be your reference point.  When you got the text message from your mother, you were definitely at an 86 with your anger.  Now let’s find a lower point.  Perhaps you remember something your friend was talking about, or perhaps you were already in a bad mood and at a 43 when the conversation started.  It doesn’t matter, as long as you are identifying to varying points of emotional intensity.

That’s it.  You’ve done The Rewind!  Lather, rinse, repeat…endlessly!

Of course, now you want to know why we did this. Right?

Here’s the deal…

That whole process, at worst, takes a minute.  It probably doesn’t even take 30 seconds.  Regardless, even that short amount of time is slow as far as the brain is concerned.  So the reason we do this process is to develop the very thing that we desire: More real time awareness of our thoughts and feelings in the moment, and thus more control over ourselves.

If you want to know how this works, I don’t have a good concrete answer to that.  I could direct you to some fascinating neuroscience research discussing cognitive treatments and it’s effect on making change and neural plasticity, but I won’t bore you.  Here’s the short version:

In doing this process regularly, the automatic processes of the brain respond in kind by making this process more efficient.  The efficiency result is the very thing we desire:  More real time awareness of our thoughts and feelings in the moment, and thus more control over ourselves. The brain LOVES efficiency, and it even loves efficiency with processes that tend to cause us some problems, such as having a short temper.  Funny thing about all this is that there could be 30 or 300 or more points in the brain that, once triggered, has to travel through to get you screaming at your friend in the blink of an eye.  What we know is that all the information is there, it’s simply a matter of awakening ourselves to have the perception to see more of it.

So, having some trouble getting that last bit of control over those snap emotions?  Be kind to yourself, Rewind!

Bonus! Here’s a sheet with a helpful Rewind visual for you!

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