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  • Writer's pictureCandy Widdifield

Dear Candy Q&A: Biggest Roadblocks to Recovery

Candy Widdifield

Apr 10, 2023

3 min read

The two biggest roadblocks that slow recovery for people are: 1) not catching & interrupting the automatic negative thoughts, and 2) not consistently changing emotional states. In order to see all the symptom thought patterns or POPs we have, we have to cultivate our curious observer and get really good at noticing where our thoughts and our emotional states are throughout the day. We can't change or interrupt what we don't notice, so our capacity to notice is key. Practicing meditation daily with the goal of focusing on observing your thoughts come and go (without attaching to them) can be helpful.

Additionally, it is not enough to do the hour of retraining and let your brain have a free for all for the rest of the day. In fact, I've seen people recover simply by catching and redirecting their thoughts throughout the day without the rounds of practice. I have yet to see anyone recover by only doing the rounds and not actively redirecting the rest of the time. The repetition and consistency is what allows the pathways in the brain to change.

Ask yourself, "What do I spend most of my day thinking about or focusing on?" Maybe you are good at not focusing on symptoms, but you spend the day immersed in other negative thoughts. Those negative or worry thoughts are still triggering the maladaptive pathways in your brain, and while they are not directly related to your condition they are still contributing to your current state of wellbeing. What can you focus on or think about instead? If your brain is a very busy place and you don't feel you can continually redirect, consider having things to focus on that catch your attention, like an audio book or podcast, or engage in creative endeavours.

Changing your emotional state is equally as important. This can be challenging when you are immersed in the old pathways in the brain because you don't feel like being positive, or good feeling feel too far out of reach. Trying to go from feeling negative to being immersed in joy or bliss is often too far of a stretch, but we can reach for gratitude, love, kindness, self-compassion, or inspiration. Even if we don't fully feel it at first, keep reaching for it and acting as if you do. Eventually the feelings will come online and get stronger. Smiling and laughter, or laughter yoga are equally as useful and do not have to be genuine in order to get benefits. When you live from a place of gratitude or a similar elevated emotion, it provides a buffer in your brain and nervous system so the old pathways don't get reinforced. We can't be in gratitude and in a stress response at the same time, and gratitude signals to the brain and nervous system that we are safe. As a result, our inner healing mechanisms get activated.

If you are feeling frustrated, try changing up your routine and get creative about different ways to redirect your brain and reach for elevated emotions. Make a commitment to yourself to do this for a set period of time regardless of how you feel or your thoughts about it. Likely the results will speak for themselves.

Until next time!

If you have a question or would like a blessing for healing, please email me at


Candy Widdifield is Certified Master Coach, Registered Reiki Master Teacher and former Registered Clinical Counsellor, living in Calgary Alberta, Canada. She has a background in brain retraining & nervous system regulation, trauma, grief & loss, mindfulness, somatic therapy, & positive psychology. She taught the DNRS in-person program for 5 years, has over a decade of experience coaching brain re-trainers & provides mentorship to other coaches. Candy works with people all over the world, helping them to optimize their wellbeing and thrive in their lives. More information about Candy can be found at


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