One of the things we know about our disease is that acting out begins with mental obsession. Where our minds go, our bodies will follow. Take for example this Zen story:
Two monks were walking down the street after a heavy rain that left the streets quite muddy. They came upon a a lady of very easy virtue vainly attempting to find a dry path across the road without soiling her kimono.
One monk, more compassionate than the other, picked up the woman and carried her across the street, setting her down on the other side of the road. He returned to his companion and they continued down the road for some minutes until the second monk chided the first with the remark, “You really shouldn’t have done that.”
“Why, you contaminated yourself by touching that impure woman.”
“Oh, are you still carrying her? I put her down on the other side of the street.”
Many times as addicts we become like the second monk. We see some person or encounter some situation that triggers a reaction in our minds and maybe our bodies. Most people would move on from the encounter and not think another thought about it. We addicts continue to carry it thru a hour, the afternoon, or even sometimes for days. With the past still being held onto we tend to slip back into our old uncontrollable behaviors.
The Three or Five Second Rule is one of the major devices we can use to achieve continued sobriety. When we see someone who is attractive we allow ourselves three seconds to look at him or her and then we turn away, allowing the memory to slip away from us. We do not take that second glance, the look over our shoulder after we have driven past the attractive person on the Street; we do not hold on to a detailed image of that person in our mind. And we do the same with triggering situations.
This is a seemingly small matter, but many of us have found that if we can follow small rules like this one, Our Higher Power takes care of the larger issues in our recovery. When this rule is not working for us, sometimes our Higher Power will guide us to another Tools for Recovery.