I learned about this one today in therapy. The idea is to use this word/acronym to keep myself from diving too deep into the craziness.
So – anytime I’m feeling overwhelmed, confused, or really feeling harangued by that damn inner critic (who, I really have to give some props to for working overtime recently – what energy! what focus! what singleness of purpose! Yow…), I use H.A.L.T. as a quick check-in. Ask if I am any of those. If so, then address those instead of doing whatever else I think needs to be done (like, say, beating up on myself, a recently returned favorite pastime courtesy of The Critic).
So if I’m hungry, eat something. If I’m angry, do what I can to resolve the anger. If I’m lonely, address that. If I’m tired, sleep.
Basically, I realized, I spend a lot of time wandering around in the last three of the list. And when the critic is screaming the loudest, I’m usually SO tired – you know, the kind of tired where you don’t even recognize how tired you are anymore. I feel that way right now, and although I’m not hungry, the tiredness seems to lead into lonely and angry feelings. But it feels like the first thing to address is the tiredness.
It seems so simple. But I haven’t really had the luxury of an uninterrupted night’s sleep in seven years, so sleep is really very precious to me. And I have made loneliness a substitute for solitude over much of my life. I’ve made choices that left me lonely more times than I can count, and I’ve done it as a matter of virtue – or alternatively as a matter of desperation. Sometimes I think that my loneliness is so deep that if I look into it I’ll fall into a black hole. But just writing that out seems to help me feel less alone… there’s a lot about myself that I still need to accept. And it’s hard to accept the parts of me that open up easily. So I make my own loneliness. Then that leads to anger, anger about my life, anger about what I set myself up for almost two decades ago now, anger about how much of myself I denied for so long.
And then that leads back to tired. When I’m tired I can’t see a way to the next step. I can’t see or feel or even comprehend that there might be acceptance, caring, support – and that makes it tiring for those who might want to offer it… so then I know I’m setting myself up for problems…
And I want to sleep. This will all look better in the morning.