Daily Reflections May 1, 2016

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HEALING HEART AND MIND

Admitted to God. To ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

TWELVE STEPS AND TWELVE TRADITIONS p.55

Since it is true that God comes to me through people, I can see that by keeping people at a distance I also keep God at a distance. God is nearer to me than I think and I can experience Him by loving people and allowing people to love me. But I can neither love not be loved if I allow my secrets to get in the way. 

It’s the side of myself that I refuse to look at that rules me. I must be willing to look at the dark side in order to heal my mind and heart because that is the road to freedom. I must walk into darkness to find the light and walk into fear to find peace. 

By revealing my secrets-and thereby ridding myself of guilt-I can actually change my thinking; by altering my thinking, I can change myself. My thoughts create my future. What I will be tomorrow is determined by what I think today. 

Mindfulness. Take two.

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(DBT lectures are meant to be followed in order, because they build off one another.)

Mindfulness consists of psychological and behavioral skills drawn from Eastern Mindfulness practices.

Mindfulness skills help you to:

  • Be grounded with a stronger sense of self.
  • More consciously observe and experience yourself and your environment.
  • Reduce your feelings of emptiness.
  • Reduce cognitive disturbances such as dissociation ( where one compartmentalizes certain thoughts, emotions, memories, or splits off from them because they are too overwhelming) and delusions (ideas/beliefs system that is maintained in spite of evidence to the contrary and where one feels detached from one’s body or mental processes).
  • Increases your awareness of the present moment, without judgment.

3 PRIMARY STATES OF MIND ARE PRESENTED IN DBT:

REASONABLE (RATIONAL) MIND

“You are in your Reasonable Mind when you are approaching knowledge intellectually, are thinking rationally and logically, attend to empirical facts, are planful in your behavior, you focus your attention, and you are “cool: in your approach to problems.”

It is your rational thinking, logical mind. It is that part that plans and evaluates things logically. It is your “cool” part.”

  • Thinks rationally and evaluates things logically
  • Attends to facts
  • Plans behavior
  • Focuses attention
  • Approach to problems is “cool”

Reasonable mind can be beneficial:

  • People can build roads, homes, cities.
  • Can follow instructions
  • Solve logical problems.
  • Do math or science.
  • Run Meetings.

It is easier to be in Reasonable Mind when you feel good.

It is harder to be in Reasonable Mind when you don’t feel good.

We would use the Reasonable Mind to balance a checkbook; figure out the fastest way to get from A to B; etc. Reasonable Mind gives you a way to solve your problems.

EMOTIONAL MIND

“You are in Emotional Mind when your emotions are in control – when they influence your thinking and your behavior.”

  • Thinking and behavior are controlled by the current emotional state.
  • Thoughts are “hot” (In CBT and DBT, “Hot Thoughts” are thoughts that cause a lot of emotional suffering and can cause distorted thinking – thought after thought- like a “snow ball effect” and we can end up spinning with them).
  • Reasonable and logical thinking is difficult.
  • Facts are amplified of distorted to be congruent with the current emotional state.
  • The energy of the behavior is also congruent with the current emotional state.

Emotional Mind can be beneficial:

  • Intense love motivates relationships.
  • Intense devotion or desire motivates staying with hard tasks.
  • Intense love or hate has fueled wars.
  • Feeling passionate about people, causes, beliefs.
  • Emotions are what motivates us into action.
  • Emotions are what keep us attached to others and building relationships.
  • Motivation or reason to want to solve your problems.

Problems with Emotional Mind occur when:

  • The results are positive in the short term but negative in the long term.
  • The experience itself is very painful or leads to other painful states and events (e.d. anxiety and depression).

Emotion Mind can be aggravated by:

  • Illness
  • Lack of sleep; tiredness
  • Drugs; alcohol
  • Hunger, bloating, overeating, poor nutrition
  • Environmental stress (too many demands)
  • Environmental threats
  • Lack of exercise

WISE MIND

  • The integration of Reasonable Mind and Emotional Mind
  • Adds intuitive knowing to emotional experiencing and logical analysis.
  • That part of each person that can know and experience truth.
  • It is the place where the person knows something to be valid or true.
  • It is the place where the person knows something in a centered (balanced) way.
  • It is almost always quiet and calm in this part of your mind.

Mindfulness Skills help balance Emotion Mind and Reasonable Mind to achieve Wise Mind. Mindfulness Skills facilitate the development of, and ability to, access Wise Mind.

  • You can not overcome or control Emotional Mind with Reasonable Mind.
  • You can not create Emotion Mind with Reason.
  • Everyone has a Wise Mind. Some people perhaps have not experienced it.
  • No-one is in Wise Mind all of the time.
  • It is easy to confuse the Emotional Mind and Wise Mind because both have the quality of “feeling” something to be true. Intense emotions can generate feelings of certainty that mimic the Wise Mind.
  • Wise mind is in your heart (emotions) and in your head (reason). Certainty comes from both.
  • You must go within and integrate the two.
  • Wisdom, wise mind, or wise knowing is knowing by observing, knowing by analyzing logically, knowing by what we experience in our bodies (kinetic and sensory experience), knowing by what we do, and knowing by intuition.

E.g., Patient makes a statement: “I feel un-loveable” as if the feeling state provides information about the empirical reality. Question the patient: I’m not interested in how you feel. I’m not interested in what you believe or think. I am interested in what you know to be true in your Wise Mind.” The dialectical tension here is between what the patient feels to be true (emotion Mind) and what she thinks to be true (Reasonable Mind). The synthesis is what she/he knows to be true (Wise Mind). Linehan Pg. 42

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DAILY REFLECTIO…

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DAILY REFLECTION-WHEN FAITH IS MISSING February 4 ,2014

“Sometimes AA comes harder to those who have lost or rejected faith than to those who never had any faith at all, for they think they have tried faith and found it wanting. They have tried the way of faith and the way of no faith.” TWELVE STEPS AND TWELVE TRADITIONS, p. 28

“I was so sure God had failed me that I became ultimately defiant, though I knew better, and plunged into a final drinking binge. My faith turned bitter and that was no coincidence. Those who once had great faith hit bottom harder. It took time to rekindle my faith, though I came to AA I was grateful intellectually to have survived such a great fall, but my heart felt callous. Still, I stuck with the AA program; the alternatives were too bleak! I kept coming back and gradually my faith was resurrected.” A book written by AA members for AA members.

RESCUED BY SURR…

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RESCUED BY SURRENDERING-DAILY REFLECTIONS February 2, 2014

Characteristic of the so-called typical alcoholic is a narcissistic egocentric core, dominated by feelings of omnipotence, intent on maintaining at all costs its inner integrity…Inwardly the alcoholic brooks no control from man or God. He, the alcoholic, is and must be the master of his destiny. He weill fight to the end to preserve that position.” A.A. COMES OF AGE, p. 311

“The great mystery is: “Why do some of us die alcoholic deaths, fighting to preserve the ‘independence’ of our ego, while others seem to sober up effortlessly in A.A.?” Help from a Higher Power, the gift of sobriety, came to me when an otherwise unexplained desire to stop drinking coincided with my willingness to accept the suggestions of the men and women of A.A. I had to surrender, for only by reaching out to God and my fellows could I be rescued.”

DAILY REFLECTIONS is a book written by AA members for AA members.

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.

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

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.