Avoid Becoming Vulnerable – Don’t get HALT or BENT

Halt Bent Acronyms graphicWhen I am stressed, my natural tendency is to turn to my addiction for comfort.  If I am aware that I am stressed – or likely to become stressed – I can prepare myself so that I will be less likely to give in to temptation. But sometimes I don’t recognize the indicators that I am becoming stressed or the signs along the path warning me that I am likely to get stressed.

HALTIn Overeaters Anonymous and other 12 Step fellowships there is an acronym that can help keep in the forefront of my mind some of the types of situations that are likely to make me vulnerable to my addiction. The acronym is HALT, which stands for Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired. If I become too hungry, angry, lonely or tired I will be more likely to act out – to indulge in my addictive behaviors.  Why would being hungry (or angry or lonely or tired) make me, as a compulsive eater, want to eat uncontrollably, or make any addict want to indulge in their addiction? I don’t know, but it does.  Don’t believe it? Observe your own behavior.  How do you behave when you find yourself in one of these states?

BENTYears ago I observed that there is another mental state that can cause the same vulnerability: boredom.  This sent me on a quest for a new acronym, one that would cover the HALT items, but also include a letter B.  This is what I came up with: BENT, which stands for Bored, Emotional, Needy, Tired.  When I am bored, emotional, needy or tired, I have a tendency to become vulnerable to my addictive behavior.  So, I try not to let myself become BENT, and if I recognize that I am, I take steps to protect myself from that vulnerability by using one or more of the tools of the program. (See my posts on TOOLS).

  • Do you become vulnerable when you are HALT or BENT?
  • What can you do to protect yourself from becoming HALT or BENT?
  • What can you do to keep from acting out if you find yourself HALT or BENT?


4 thoughts on “Avoid Becoming Vulnerable – Don’t get HALT or BENT

  1. I’m terrified to fail at the arp program. Step 1, I thought would be no problem but as I have started reading the manual I am exhausted and realize step 1 will take me some time to work on. I am scared to death of step 4. I know I am not there yet but my question causing fear is, do you have to list things that I have repented of already to the proper authorityand gained forgiveness? I don’t think any amount of input/output of the prior steps will allow me to be successful if I have to drum up the past as I suffer from great guilt over too many things anyway and I have a hard time forgiving myself. It’s hard for me to see why a loving Heavenly Father would want me to re write that part of life if I already have repented. Please some help.

    1. Brandi, you are not alone! Many people have come to ARP as a last resort and are petrified, both of the process and of failure. The purpose of working the program is to access the Atonement to relieve you of guilt, shame, and resentment and enable you to fulfill your potential with the help of the Lord. If you have completely let go of a past action through the repentance process, you have no need to revisit it in your 4th step. If you are still obsessing about something and if you haven’t been able to forgive yourself, you will have the opportunity to include it in your inventory, if you choose to do so, and use the remaining steps to let it go and become free from it.

      I think this is such a good question that I am going to write a separate blog post about it.

  2. Both of these acronyms are true for me. My sponsor helped me to come up with a plan when I find myself hungry, angry, lonely, tired, or bored. She had me make up a list of things that I can do. Some of them are to sing a church hymn, primary song or other uplifting song. I can listen to music. Calling someone always helps me. Say a prayer and ask Heavenly Father for help. Read the scriptures or Ensign. These are just a few. Oh, one that is so helpful is writing. When you are angry or upset writing helps to get the emotion and feelings out. You write until you feel better! For me, all these ideas have helped. I really like one that she told me when I am tired (usually because I am staying up too late!) – GO TO BED! Thank you Mira for the encouragement and reminders.

  3. I absolutely become much more vulnerable with boredom (or any of those things… anger is a big one for me). My therapist and I have talked a lot about this and I’ve had to write down a plan of things I’m going to do when I’m bored, lonely, tired, etc etc. When I’m bored, he suggested to me to think about how it’s ok to be bored. Everyone gets bored, and kind of shrug it off. Tell myself it’s acceptable thing and be ok with it. Then if that doesn’t work, I can think of something else to do, and on my plan that I wrote out, I wrote out specific things, not just “go do something else” because without specifics I would rationalize that there’s nothing to do. Crafts, exercising, calling someone, going to see someone, read a book, etc. Is it foolproof? Absolutely not. It’s a skill that has to be learned and he is always telling me that takes time and practice. It’s not an overnight skill I can learn. But I’m working on it. Good luck to you and I love your new acronym!

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