THE JOY OF SHAR…

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THE JOY OF SHARING-DAILY REFLECTIONS-January 29, 2013

“Life will take a new meaning. To watch people recover, to see them help others, to watch loneliness vanish, to see a fellowship grow up around you, to have a host of friends-this is an experience you must not miss. We know you will not want to miss it. Frequent contact with newcomers and with each other is the bright spot of our lives.” ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS p.89

“To know that each newcomer with whom I share has the opportunity to experience the relief that I have found in this Fellowship fills me with joy and gratitude. I feel that all the things described in AA will come to pass for them, as they have for me, if they seize the opportunity and embrace the program fully.”A book written by AA members for AA members.

Creating Meaning: Trauma and Substance Abuse

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This lecture is a list of meanings that are typical of people with trauma and substance abuse. The structure of this lecture will be as follows: I will give Meanings That Harm with their definitions and examples, as well as Meanings That Heal to counteract the Meanings that Harm. While reading through these, maybe try to get in touch with yourself and listen to what hits home for you-what hurts for you- and then look at the suggestion to heal. There may be some peace here for you. There is for me.

Deprivation Reasoning: Definition: Because you have suffered a lot, you need substances (or other self-destructive behavior). Examples: “I’ve had a hard time, so I’m entitled to get high.” “If you went through what I did, you’d hurt yourself too.” Meanings that Heal: Live Well. A happy, functional life will make up for your suffering far more than will hurting yourself. Focus on positive steps to make your life better.

I’m Crazy: Definition: You believe that you shouldn’t feel the way you do. Examples: “I must be crazy to feel this upset.” “I shouldn’t be having this craving.” Meanings that Heal: Honor your feelings. You are not crazy.Your feelings make sense in light of what you have been through. You can get over them by talking about them and learning to cope with them.

Time Warp: Your sense of time is distorted; you believe that a negative feeling will go on forever. Example: “This craving won’t stop.” “If I were to cry, I would never stop.” Meanings that heal: Observe Real Time. Take a clock and time how long it really lasts. Negative feeling will usually subside after a while; often they will go away sooner if you distract with activities. (Don’t ruminate!)

Beating Yourself Up: Definition: In your mind, you yell at yourself and put yourself down. Examples: “I’m a bad person.” “My family was right; I’m worthless.” Meanings that Heal: Love-Not Hate-Creates Change. Beating yourself up may echo what people in the past have said to you. But yelling at yourself does not change your behavior; in face, it makes you less likely to change. Care and understanding promote real change.

The Past Is The Present: Definition: Because you were a victim in the past, you are a victim in the present. Examples: “I can’t trust anyone.” “I’m trapped.” Meanings that heal: Notice Your Power. Stay in the present: “I am an adult (not a child); I have choices (I am not trapped); I am getting help (I am not alone).”

The Escape: Definition: An escape is necessary (e.g, food, substances, gambling) because feelings are just too painful. Examples: “I’m upset; I have to binge on food.” “I can’t stand cravings: I have to smoke a joint.” Meanings that Heal: Keep Growing. Emotional growth and learning are the only real escape from pain. You can learn to tolerate feelings and solve problems.

The Good Old Days: Definition: You remember the wonderful highs from something (a drug, an abusive relationship), but ignore the tragedy of it. Examples: “Cocaine made me feel happy.” “I still love my partner, even though he abused me”. Meanings that Heal: See Both Sides. The drug may have felt good but the cost was losing your job; the relationship may have had some positives, but it had some serious negatives too.

Feelings Are Reality: Definition: Because something feels true, you believe it must be a fact. Examples: “I feel like I’ll never recover, so I might as well drink” “I feel depressed, so I might as well kill myself.” Meanings that Heal: Listen To What You Know. Use your mind rather than your feelings as a guide. What do you know to be the best for you? Feelings are valid, but they are not reality.

Ignore Cues: Definition: If you don’t notice a problem, it will go away. Examples: “If I ignore this toothache it will go away.” “I don’t have a problem with substances.” Meanings that Heal: Attend to You Needs. Listen to what you’re hearing; notice what your seeing; believe your gut feeling.

Dangerous Permission: Definition: You give yourself permission for self-destructive behavior. Examples: “Just one won’t hurt” “I’ll buy a bottle of wine for the recipe I want to try.” Meanings that Heal: Seek Safety. Acknowledge your urges and feelings, and then find a safe way to cope with them.

The Squeaky Wheel Gets The Grease: Definition: If you get better you will not get as much attention from people. Examples: “If I do well, my Therapist will focus on sicker patients.” “No one will listen to me unless I am in distress.” Meanings that Heal: Get Attention From Success. People love to pay attention to success. If you don’t believe this, try doing better and notice how people respond to you.

Mind Reading: Definition: You believe you can tell what other people are thinking without having to ask. Examples: “I know he didn’t say hello because he hates me.” “My sponsor would feel burdened if I called her late at night.” Meanings that Heal: Check It Out. Ask the person! You may be amazed by what you find out.

It’s All My Fault: Definition: Everything that goes wrong is due to you. Examples: “The trauma was my fault.” “If I have a disagreement with someone, it means I’m doing something wrong.” Meanings that Heal: Give Yourself a Break. You do not have to carry the world on your shoulders. When you have conflicts with others, try taking a 50-50 approach (50% is their responsibility, 50% is yours).

If This…Then That: Definition: You put off something important while waiting for something else. Examples: “If I get a job, then I’ll stop smoking pot.” “If I lose weight, then I’ll go to AA.” Meanings that Heal: Stay in the Present. Whatever you need to do, start now. Every step forward counts. Putting off an important goal will not help.

Actions Speak Louder Than Words: Definition: You show your distress by actions; otherwise, people won’t see your pain. Examples: “The scratches on my own will show what I feel” “I’d like my partner to find my body after I’ve killed myself.” Meanings that Heal: Break through the Silence. Put feelings into words. Language is the most powerful way for people to know you.

I Am My Trauma: Definition: Your trauma is your identity; it is more important than anything else about you. Examples: “My life is pain.” “I am what I have suffered.” Meanings that Heal: Create a Broad Identity. You are more than what you have suffered. Think of your different roles in life, your varied interests, your goals and hopes.

The Uniqueness Fallacy: Definition: You alone have a particular problem; no one else could possibly understand. Examples: “Unless you’ve lived through what I have, you can’t help me.” “Why bother talking? No one will get it.” Meanings that Heal: Reach Out. Give people a chance to help you. Find a safe person to talk to (therapist, AA sponsor) and try opening up.

No Future: Definition: The future is bleak; there is no hope. Examples: “My life is wasted already.” “I might as well give up.” Meanings that Heal: You Have Choices. No matter what has happened so far, you control the present and future. Notice your choices and choose wisely.

Life-or-Death Thinking: Definition: Things take on life-or-death meaning in your mind. Examples: “I’ll never get over the fact that she (or he) left me.” “I’ll die if I don’t get that job.” Meanings that Heal: Keep Perspective. That is the worst that can happen? If you suffer a loss, you can learn to mourn and move on. The possibilities in life are endless.

Confusing Needs And Wants: Definition: You want something very badly, so that means you have to have it. Examples: “I need to relax with heroin.” “I need to find a romantic partner.” Meanings that Heal: Recovery is the Need. You may want many things, but needs are few. You may want heroin, but you don’t need heroin. Needs are essentials: food, shelter, clothes- and your recovery!

Short-Term Thinking:  You focus only on your feelings today rather than tomorrow. Examples: “I’m more sociable when I drink.” “I’m buying that new outfit even if i can’t afford it.” Meanings that Heal: Think of the Consequences. Imagine how good you’ll feel about yourself tomorrow if you do what you know is right. Imagine how low you’ll feel if you give in to the moment.

Shoulds: Definition: You have rules about how the world should work. If the rules are violated, you feel angry. Examples: “My friend should invite me over.” “I should not have to deal with PTSD.” Meanings that Heal: Soften Your Language. Try to ease the tension (e.g., “I want my friend to invite me over.”). You may still want what you want, but you may feel more tolerant.

Instant Satisfaction: Definition: You seek immediate satisfaction. Life should be easy. Examples: “I need it now.” “I should always feel good.” Meanings that Heal: Work Hard. The most enduring satisfactions come from working hard and having patience: at your job, at relationships, at recovery.

Focusing on the Negative: Definition: You notice the negatives in a situation and ignore the positives. Examples: “That person is a total jerk.” “I can’t do anything right.” Meanings that Heal: Notice the Good. What went right? What is good about you? What was a positive aspect of the situation?

All-or-None Thinking: Definition: Things are either all good or all bad. There is no middle ground. Examples: “Life is only misery.” “I have no power.” Meanings that Heal: Seek a Balanced View. Life is more complex and interesting than “all or none.” Look at things with a balanced view; find the middle ground. Look at what went well, what went badly, and what was neutral.

Source: Lisa M. Najavits

 

 

 

 

We Lose A Lot In Our Addictions; What Do We Gain In Sobriety?

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First and foremost, here is a thought I would like to share with you. All of us that are in recovery and sobriety can still get drunk. Your probably thinking; “What the hell is she talking about! I can’t drink! I can’t get drunk? How dare her say she is sober and then say this!”. Well, let me elaborate. The picture below hit home for me in a very deep place in my heart and so I would like to share it with you as well. Please remember that with an open mind we can learn, and adopt new joys and experiences. Enjoy!

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(Note: Not with wine, but with those things in life that gives you, personally, a feeling of absolute joy. Get drunk on those things! I love this concept, I hope this does not offend. If it does offend or bring up something negative for anyone I sincerely apologize!)

Now, down to business!

I was in Treatment yesterday and one of the classes I was in went over the things that we lose while we are actively in our addiction, and what we gain when we enter the world of sobriety. There were 9-10 people in the class including me and as you would assume there were a lot of different things that came up while thinking of this subject. I tried my very best to write each one down so that I could share them all with you. I hope it inspires and empowers you to know how much positive comes after we let go of the negative. Your always in my thoughts!

Cycle Of Addiction

Tangible Losses In Active Addiction

  • Losing a Job
  • Losing a Car
  • Relationships
  • Losing a Home
  • Losing freedom; Jail or prison time; DUI
  • Losing kids to CPS
  • Health deterioration
  • Death
  • Losing Family
  • Losing the privilege to drive
  • Money
  • Crashing a car
  • Loss of the sense of responsibility
  • Loss of a safe environment
  • Hospitalizations

Intangible Losses Of Active Addiction

  • Self-esteem
  • Morals
  • Loss of time
  • Self-respect
  • Confidance
  • Motivation
  • Ambition
  • Acountability
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Psychosis
  • Dignity
  • Integrity
  • Apathy
  • Desire to live
  • Ability to forgive
  • Denial
  • Taking safety and trust away from our kids and causing trauma
  • Boundaries

What We Obtain  In Recovery Through Honest Change

  • Self-worth
  • Peace of mind
  • Sanity
  • Health
  • Quality of life
  • Relationships
  • Credibility
  • Honesty
  • Faith
  • Hope
  • AA Promises
  • A future
  • Strength
  • Empathy
  • Passion
  • Compassion
  • Humility
  • Ability to forgive
  • Ability to face resentments
  • Taking accountability for our part in things
  • Higher power
  • Spirituality
  • Connection to life

Change in recovery is an inside job and takes a lot of foot work. I have a tattoo on my foot inspired by this concept that says, “Be the change ye wish to see in thou world”. To be a change or to obtain change we have to do a lot of foot work and always take the next indicated step. The more foot steps we take to get out of the wrecked realities of our addictions, the closer we get to all the positive aspects of life-some that we have never even experienced before-if that’s not inspiring I don’t know what is.

I believe that everything I endured in my addiction and in my childhood happened for a reason. My addiction was a result of the pain, suffering, and trauma I endured throughout the first 16 years of my life. After that I began causing more trauma, heart ache, and suffering for myself. Now that I am clean and sober I have a lot within me to offer to others as a hand to pick them up, as a kind work to lift their spirit, a wisdom to offer when times are hard and a solution is hard to find, and most importantly, I have a connection to God that is stronger than it has ever been before. God is the reason why I can offer myself to others in such a beautiful way. Your story is the same, you have God as well in your story, and with God and his will for us we can accomplish miracles!

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THE TREASURE OF…

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THE TREASURE OF THE PAST-DAILY REFLECTION-January 28, 2014

“Showing others who suffer how we were given help is the very thing which makes life seem so worth while to us now. Cling to the thought that, in God’s hands, the dark past is the greatest possession you have-the key to life and happiness for others. With it you can avert death and misery for them.” – ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS BIG BOOK p. 124

“What a gift it is for me to realize that all those seemingly useless years were not wasted. The most degrading and humiliating experiences turn out to be the most powerful tools in helping others to recover. In knowing the depths of shame and despair, I can reach out with a loving and compassionate hand, and know that the grace of God is available to me.” – DAILY REFLECTIONS-Written by AA members for AA members.

I Phone 5C 012

RIGOROUS HONEST…

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RIGOROUS HONESTY-DAILY REFLECTION; SUNDAY, JANUARY 26, 2014

“Who wishes to be rigorously honest and tolerant? Who wants to confess his faults to another and make restitution for harm done? Who cares anything about a Higher Power, let alone meditation and prayer? Who wants to sacrifice time and energy in trying to carry A.A.’s message to the next sufferer? No, the average alcoholic, self-centered in the extreme, doesn’t care for this prospect-unless he has to do these things in order to stay alive himself.” TWELVE STEPS AND TWELVE TRADITIONS, p. 24

“I am an alcoholic. If I drink I will die. My, what power, energy, and emotion this simple statement generates in me! But it’s really all I need to know for today. Am I willing to stay alive today? Am I willing to stay sober today? Am I willing to ask for help and am I willing to be a help to another suffering alcoholic today? Have I discovered the fatal nature of my situation? What must i do, today, to stay sober?

-DAILY REFLECTIONS; This is a book of reflections by A.A. members for A.A. members.

Healthy VS Unhealthy Feelings

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Thoughts and attitudes have an impact on the way you feel. Your emotions result more from the way you view things than from what happens to you. That simple idea can help you change the way you think and feel. In today’s lecture, you’ll learn more about the nuts and bolts of doing this.

However, before we go too far with this, we need to back track just a bit. When should we change our negative feelings? Are all negative feelings bad? Are some negative feelings normal and healthy? Should we try to be happy all the time?

I believe that some negative feelings are healthy and some negative feelings are unhealthy. For every negative emotion, there’s a healthy and an unhealthy version. Healthy sadness is not the same as clinical depression. Healthy fear is not the same as neurotic guilt. Healthy, constructive anger is not the same as unhealthy, destructive anger. And so fourth.

For example, if a loved one dies, it’s healthy to grieve and to share your feelings with friends and family members. Your sadness in the expression of the love that you felt for that person, and the feelings of loss will naturally disappear after a period of time. Clinical depression is very different.

What are some of the differences between healthy sadness and depression? I have listed them below. Think about this question a little bit before you look. What’s your perception?

(Note: The paperwork that i received in class came with a table to obviously separate the comparing example. So, I had to tweak the format a little bit. The first sentence in each example is the healthy version of the emotion being discussed. The second sentence is the unhealthy version of the emotion being discussed.)

Characteristics of Healthy Sadness VS Characteristics of Depression

  1. You are sad but don’t feel a loss of self-esteem. VS You feel a loss of self-esteem
  2. Your negative feelings are an appropriate reaction to an upsetting event VS Your negative feelings are far out of proportion to the event that triggered your bad mood.
  3. Your feelings go away after a period of time. VS Your feelings may go on and on endlessly.
  4. Although you feel sad, you do not feel discouraged about the future. VS You feel demoralized and convinced that things will never get better.
  5. You continue to be productively involved with life. VS You give up on life and lose interest in your friends and career.
  6. Your negative thoughts are realistic. VS Your negative thoughts are exaggerated and distorted, even though they seem valid.

What are some of the characteristics of healthy, constructive anger? How does it differ from destructive, unhealthy anger? I have listed characteristics of both below. Again, think about the differences before you look. What’s your perception?

Characteristics of Healthy, Constructive Anger VS Characteristics of Unhealthy, Destructive Anger

  1. You express your feelings in a tactful way VS you deny your feelings and pout (passive aggressive) or lash out and attack the other person (active aggression).
  2. You try to see the world through the other person’s eyes, even if you disagree. VS You argue defensively and insist there’s no validity in what the other person is saying.
  3. You convey a spirit of respect for the other person, even though you may feel quite angry with him or her. VS You believe the other person is despicable and deserving of punishment. You appear condescending or disrespectful.
  4. You do something productive and try to solve the problem. VS You give up and see yourself as a helpless victim.
  5. You try to learn from the situation so you will be wiser in the future. VS You don’t learn anything new. You feel that your view of the situation is absolutely valid.
  6. You eventually let go of the anger and feel happy again. VS Your anger becomes addictive. You won’t let go of it.
  7. You examine your own behavior to see how you may have contributed to the problem. VS You blame the other person and see yourself as an innocent victim.
  8. You believe that you and the other person both have valid ideas and feelings that deserve to be understood. VS You insist that you are entirely right and the other person is entirely wrong. You feel convinced that truth and justice are on your side.
  9. Your commitment to the other person increases. Your goal is to feel closer to him or her. VS You avoid or reject the other person. You write him or her off.
  10. You look for a solution where you can both win and nobody has to lose. VS You feel like you’re in a battle or a competition. If one person wins, you feel that the other person will be a loser.

We all have circumstances where we react in the wrong way when we are angry. No one is perfect. However, it is always a good idea to be open minded and willing to improve the way we handle situations to decrease our anger and to increase the quality of the relationships we have with others.

It is common for some people to be sad in a healthy way. However, the population of people with depression is extremely high. If we can pin point the unhealthy feeling we have, we then have a great chance to get some help and to change the way we feel. The feelings of depression are awful and they are very hard to live with.

Remember this: No one deserves to or has to live miserably. We have the power to change the way we think and feel if we want that bad enough and are open to suggestions. It is essential to always remain teachable. It is impossible to be happy all the time. But there is a remarkable strength in knowing how to identify our feelings and being able to go through them and deal with them so we can come out on the other side.

Love,

Shadow

AA Daily Reflections. January 25, 2014

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What We Need-Each Other

…A.A. is really saying to every serious drinker, “You are an A.A. member if you say so…nobody can keep you out.” – TWELVE STEPS AND TWELVE TRADITIONS, p. 139

“For years, whenever I reflected on Tradition Three (“The only requirement for A.A. membership is a desire to stop drinking”), I thought it valuable only to newcomers. It was their guarantee that no one could bar them from A.A. Today I feel enduring gratitude for the spiritual development the Tradition has brought me. I don’t seek out people obviously different from myself. Tradition Three, concentrating on the one way I am similar to others, brought me to know and help every kind of alcoholic, just as they have helped me. Charlotte, the atheist, showed me higher standards of ethics and honor; Clay, of another race, taught me patience; Winslow, who is gay, led me by example into true compassion; Young Megan says that seeing me at meetings, sober thirty years, keeps her coming back. Tradition Three insured that we would get what we need-each other.” Daily Reflection written by A.A. members for A.A. members.

Grounding: A Coping Skill for Clients (people) With Emotional Pain

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I received a handout titled Grounding: A Coping Skill for Clients With Emotional Pain in one of my classes. Instead of summarizing the worksheet I will transfer the worksheet onto this blog by hand. I think these skills are extremely helpful and I do some of them myself and they work wonderfully. I hope you can try some out too!

“Three major ways of grounding will be described-mental, physical, and soothing. “Mental” means focusing your mind; “Physical” means focusing on your senses (e.g., touch, hearing); and “soothing” means talking to yourself in a very kind way. You may find that one type works better for you, or all types may be helpful. Note that grounding is different from relaxation training or meditation. In grounding, it is essential to keep your eyes open the entire time and to keep talking out loud. These strategies keep you focused on the outside world.

Mental Grounding

  • Describe your environment in detail using all your senses. For example, “The walls are white, there are five pink chairs, there is a wooden bookshelf against the wall…” Describe objects, sounds, textures, colors, smells, shapes, numbers, and temperature. You can do this anywhere. For example, on the subways: “I’m on the subway. I’ll see the river soon. Those are windows. This is the bench. The metal bar is silver. The subway map has four colors…”
  • Play a “categories” game with yourself. Try to name “types of dogs,” “Jazz musicians,” “States that begin with “A”,” “cars,” “TV shows,” “writers,” “sports,” “songs,” or “cities.”
  • Do an age progression. If you have regressed (mentally) to a younger age (e.g, 8 years old), you can slowly work your way back up (e.g, “I’m now 9” “I’m now 10,” “I’m now 11″…) until you are back to your current age.
  • Describe an everyday activity in great detail. For example, describe a meal that you cook (e.g., “First I peel the potatoes and cut them into quarters, then I boil the water; I make an herb marinade of oregano, basil, garlic, and olive oil…”).
  • Imagine. Use an image: Glide along on skates away from your pain; change the TV channel to get a better show; think of a wall as a buffer between you and your pain.
  • Say a safety statement. “My name is ____; I am safe right now. I am in the present, not the past. I am located in _____; the date is _____.”
  • Read something saying each word to yourself. Or read each letter backwards so that you focus on the letters and not on the meaning of the words.
  • Use humor. Think of something funny to jolt yourself out of your mood.
  • Count to 10 or say the alphabet, very s..l..o..w..l..y.

Physical Grounding

  • Run cool or warm water over your hands.
  • Grab onto your chair as hard as your can.
  • Touch various objects around you: a pen, keys, your clothing, the table, the walls. Notice textures, colors, materials, weight, temperature. Compare objects you touch: Is one colder? Lighter?
  • Dig your heels into the floor-literally “grounding” them. Notice the tension centered in your heels as you do this. Remind yourself that you are connected to the ground.
  • Carry a grounding object in your pocket-a small object ( a small rock, clay or silly puddy, ring, piece of cloth or yarn, a stress ball) that you can touch whenever you feel triggered (anxious, panicky, etc.)
  • Jump up and down in a gentle way. Only coming off the ground a couple inches.
  • Use all five senses. For example: notice five things around you that are a certain color, notice four things you can physically touch, notice three things that you hear, notice two things that you can feel, notice one thing that you can smell. They don’t have to go in this order; you can mix them up.
  • Notice your body: The weight of your body in the chair; wiggling your toes in your socks; the feel of your back against the chair. You are connected to the world.
  • Stretch. Extend your fingers, arms, or legs as far as you can; roll your head around.
  • Clench and release your fists.
  • Walk slowly, noticing each footstep, saying “left” and then “right,” whit each step.
  • Eat something, describing the flavors in detail to yourself.
  • Focus on your breathing noticing each inhale and exhale. Repeat a pleasant word to yourself on each inhale (e.g., a favorite color or a soothing word such as “safe” or “easy”).

Soothing Grounding

  • Say kind statements as, as if you were talking to a small child. For example, “You are a good person going through a hard time. You’ll get through this.”
  • Think of favorites. Think of your favorite color, animal, season, food, time of day, or TV show.
  • Picture people you care about (e.g., your children), and look to photographs of them.
  • Remember the words to an inspiring song, quotation, or poem that makes you feel better, such as the Serenity Prayer.
  • Remember a safe place. Describe a place that you find very soothing (perhaps the beach or mountains, or a favorite room); focus on everything about that place-the sounds, colors, shapes, objects, and textures.
  • Say a coping statement. “I can handle this.” “This feeling will pass.”
  • Plan out a treat for yourself, such as a piece of candy, a nice dinner, or a warm bath.
  • Think of things you are looking forward to in the next week, perhaps time with a friend, going to a movie, or going on a hike.
  • Create a cassette tape of a grounding message that you can play when needed; consider asking your therapist or someone close to you to record it if you want to hear someone else’s voice.
  • Think about why grounding works. Why might it be that by focusing on the external world, you become more aware of an inner peacefulness? Notice the methods that work for you-why might those be more powerful for you than other methods?
  • Don’t give up.

Try to just pick 1 or 2 things from each category of grounding and see how they work for you. You could always refer pack to this post to try new ones. I have about 11 techniques that work for me; every one will use different techniques for different reasons.

Love,

Shadow.

God, grant me the Serenity to accept the things I can not change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. Amen.

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Motivation For Recovery

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“Fear will get people into treatment, but fear alone is not enough to keep them in recovery”

Every person in recovery has a different circumstance or reason for getting involved. Some come because they want to, and some come because someone is telling them too. The reason alone will not keep the person sober. There have been plenty of cases where a person that has to go into recovery ends up wanting to stay because they are enjoying the benefits and some people that want to come into recovery end up relapsing or going back to old behavior. So, the initial reason alone does not prove weather a person will stay in recovery or not.

There are a few things that people should do if they want to remain in recovery. Ill explain my reasoning and then other reasons I learned about today.

I entered treatment after becoming suicidal and ending up in a mental institution for five days. I was diagnosed there for Bi Polar Disorder as well as Trauma, PTSD, and Panic/Anxiety Disorder. I was put on medication immediately. The medication I take is a huge reason why I am 96 days sober today (January 24, 2014). My mental health is the first reason I remain sober. I know that if I were to go back to using alcohol and drugs and other destructive behaviors I would suffer severely because my mental health would be drastically affected. The second reason I am staying sober is for my physical health. I have Crohns Disease on top of everything else so I have to be cautious of what I put into my body. On my 21st birthday I did so many different drugs that I landed myself in the hospital for a week which is an experience I never want to experience again. Using is not worth the consequences for me today. I am also actively working the 12 Steps of AA with a sponsor which helps a lot. I go to one AA meeting a week and I share whenever I feel like I need to. I will be getting my 90 day token tomorrow night; things like that are mile stones for me and they help me keep going. I am experiencing great benefits from staying sober and being vigilant about my mental health recovery. It feels good to take care of myself. I still have very rough circumstances that I have to go through but I’m giving them a chance to change. The reasons I entered into recovery will always be reasons for me to stay sober. They are the roots of my recovery and a reminder of where I was, how dark of a place that was, and why I never want to go back there.

Some ideas about what to do in order to stay sober:

  • Use the rear view mirror analogy. When we are driving in a car we have to tentatively look in our rear view and side view mirrors to see what is behind us. However, if we look in our rear view or side view mirrors for too long we will crash because we wont be seeing what is happening right in front and a little ahead of us. Just like in a car, in recovery we need to look at what is right in front of us as well as what is a little ahead to know what to expect. We need to look back briefly every now and then at what was in the past so we can have a reminder of why we are on the path of recovery. We should not look too far ahead in recover either, because if we get ahead of ourselves there are also consequences. Just like there are if we look too far ahead while driving. We can potentially run a red light that we didn’t see and could end up with a ticket or worse.
  • Remain reminded and teachable. Give this a mindful and fair chance each and every day. If we remain teachable and open, there are great rewards in store for us.
  • Focus on the p[positive results. Sometimes, when people have depression, anxiety, bi polar, schizophrenia, hear voices, have paranoia etc it is hard to see the positive aspects of recovery and life itself. Making an effort towards being mindful of the positive aspects of recovery are so important and give us hope.
  • Avoid impulsive behaviors. Slow down a bit. In addiction and when we have mood disorders and other things going on we tend to act impulsively. However, there is a lot of positive in taking a step back and finding reasoning to what we are feeling impulsive about in order to figure out if our thought or desire is something to follow through with.
  • Build a health non-using support group. It is essential for people in recovery to have people in their lives that are healthy and clean as well. Many of us have had to let go of close to every relationship we had before entering recovery and this can be a very tough situation to get through. It is vital that we make new healthier connections. It is good for us, and good for those we connect with.
  • Get a sponsor and work the 12 steps. The 12 steps have been around for many generations and are still working for everyone that does them. The 12 steps are steps we take to change from the inside out, and to right some of our wrongs that happened before we were in recovery.
  • Stay away from ALL addictive substances.
  • Play the tape through. Before making an impulsive or unhealthy decision, first think about what the next thing will be after making that decision. Think it through in as much depth as possible in order to really get an idea of the consequences of the situation.
  • Reality testing. Search for reasoning to our thoughts in order to discern what is in fact reality. This is especially important for people with dual diagnosis (addiction and mental health).

Most importantly: Never give up on yourself and always validate the fact that your in the solution and doing a wonderful job.

I hope you gained something from this post and if you have any comments or questions, feel free to comment to this post.

Love,

Shadow.