One of the simplest, but most important and effective, tools you’ll ever use in your recovery or therapy is the check in. 

To use the check in, here’s what you need to do— are you ready? 

You check in. 

Got it? 

Okay, maybe it’s not THAT simple. But it’s close. Let me explain how this tool works. 

90% of the problem we face in everyday life, especially when we’re trying to change or improve our life, is the fact that we get stuck in patterns. 

We get up in our head. 

We get into cognitive loops and emotional spirals. 

This happens when we get a craving for a substance or a snack to alleviate anxiety. It happens when we get into a funk where we’re berating ourselves and judging ourselves harshly. It happens when the day started out lousy, and now NOTHING seems to be going right. 

Those are all patterns. 

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: therapy and recovery are all about recognizing and interrupting patterns. 

Scratching that self-destructive record in your head so it doesn’t play the same way anymore. 

So when we get into a loop, a spiral, a funk, or when we get up into our heads, how do we interrupt that pattern? 

Hell, how do we even KNOW we’ve fallen into a pattern that we NEED to interrupt? 

We check in. 

You set an alarm. A literal, actual alarm. Most cell phones, even the old ones, have alarms that can vibrate so only you can hear or feel them. 

You pick an interval— I like to go with fifteen minutes as the default— and you set the alarm to go off every fifteen minutes. And when the alarm goes in, you check in with yourself. 

What are you thinking? 

What are you noticing? 

What’s the record in your head playing? 
Does it need interrupting? 

What DO I need right now? 

Mind you, those questions might not be easy to answer. But answering them isn’t exactly the point. The POINT is to interrupt the pattern that’s happening in your head by even ASKING them. 

It sounds simple, and it is simple. But the results of checking in on a consistent basis— and thus interrupting the negative patterns that are looping in your head, even for a minute— can be powerful. 

Some people are resistant to the idea of checking in with themselves. They think, I know what I’m thinking and feeling. I don’t need to check in. 

Yes. Yes, you do. 

Do not trust yourself to stay on top of your thoughts, feelings, triggers, and needs. Set an external schedule for checking in with yourself— the more often the better at first— and stick to it. 

It is AMAZING what consistently checking in eventually accomplishes for you. 

Checking in with yourself gives you an opportunity to push the “reset” button. 

It gives you a chance to shake out of spirals that you might not have even known you were falling into. 

It’s easy, it’s free…and it gives you a fighting chance to push back agains the weasels in your brain before they get momentum going. 

Don’t take my word for it— try it out. 

The check in is the tool that makes it possible to pull OTHER tools out if and when you need them. 


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