Freedom from Compulsive Disorders

Standard

(God) Thank you for keeping me straight yesterday. Please help me stay straight today. – paraphrased from ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS 

When I first began my recovery from codependency, I was furious about having to begin another recovery program. Seven years earlier, I had begun recovery from chemical dependency. It didn’t seem fair that one person should have to address two major issues in one lifetime. 

I’ve gotten over my anger. I’ve learned that my recoveries aren’t isolated from one another. Many of us recovering from codependency and adult children issues are also recovering from addictions: alcoholism, other drug dependency, gambling, food, work, or sex addiction. Some of us are trying to stay free of other compulsive disorders – ranging from care taking to compulsively feeling miserable, guilty, or ashamed. 

An important part of codependency recovery is staying clean and free of our compulsive or addictive behaviors. Recovery is one big room we’ve entered called healthy living. 

We can wave the white flag or surrender to all our addictions. We can safely turn to a Power greater than ourselves to relieve us of our compulsive behavior. We know that now. Once we begin actively working a program of recovery, God will relieve us of our addictions. Ask God each morning to help us stay free of our addictions and compulsions. Thank God for helping us the day before. 

Today, God, help me pay attention to all my recovery issues. Help me know that before I can work on the finer points of my recovery, such as my relationships, I must be free of addictive behaviors. 

Distress Tolerance Handout 1C

Standard

Improve the Moment

Improve

With Imagery:

Imagine very relaxing scenes. Imagine a secret room within yourself, seeing how it is decorated. Go into the room whenever you feel very threatened. Close the door on anything that can hurt you. Imagine everything going well. Imagine coping well. Make up a fantasy world that is calming and beautiful and let your mind go with it. Imagine hurtful emotions draining out of you like water out of a pipe.

With Meaning:

Find or create some purpose, meaning, or value in the pain. Remember, listen to, or read about spiritual values. Focus on whatever positive aspects of a painful situation you can find. Repeat them over and over in your mind. Make lemonade out of lemons.

With Prayer:

Open your heart to a supreme being, greater wisdom, God, your own wise mind. Ask for strength to bare the pain in this moment. Turn things over to God or a higher being.

With Relaxation:

Try muscle relaxing by tensing and relaxing each large muscle group, starting with your hands and arms, going to the top of your head, and then working down; listen to a relaxation tape; exercise hard; take a hot bath or sit in a hot tub; drink hot milk; massage your neck and scalp, your calves and feet. Get in a tub filled with very cold or hot water and stay in it until the water is tepid. Breathe deeply; half-smile; change facial expressions.

With One thing in the Moment:

Focus your entire attention on just what you are doing right now. Keep yourself in the very moment you are in; Put your mind in the present. Focus your entire attention on physical sensations that accompany non-mental tasks (e.g. walking, washing, doing dishes, cleaning, fixing). Be aware of how your body moves during each task. Do awareness exercises.

With a brief Vacation:

Give yourself a brief vacation. Get in bed and pull the covers up over your head for 20 minutes. Rent a motel room at the beach or in the woods for a day or two; drop your towels on the floor after you use them. Ask your roommate to bring you coffee in bed or make you dinner (offer to reciprocate). Get a schlocky magazine or newspaper at the grocery store, get in bed with chocolates, and read it. Make yourself milk toast, bundle up in a chair, and eat it slowly. Take a blanket to the park and sit on it for a whole afternoon. Unplug your phone for a day, or let your answering machine screen your calls. Take a 1-hour breather from hard work that must be done.

With Encouragement:

Cheer lead yourself. Repeat over and over: “I can stand it,” “It won’t last forever,” “I will make it out of this,” “I’m doing the best I can do,” “Let go and let God,” “Be still and know I am God”.

Thinking about Pros and Cons

Make a list of the pros and cons of tolerating the distress. Make another list of the pros and cons of not tolerating the distress – that is, of coping by hurting yourself, abusing alcohol or drugs, or doing something else impulsive.

Focus on long term goals, the light at the end of the tunnel. Remember times when pain has ended.

Think of the positive consequences of tolerating the distress. Imagine in your mind how good you will feel if you achieve your goals, if you don’t act impulsively.

Think of all of the negative consequences of not tolerating your current distress. Remember what has happened in the past when you have acted impulsively to escape the moment.

Distress Tolerance Handout 1B

Standard

Crisis Survival Strategies

Self-Soothe

Five Senses:

With Vision:

Buy one beautiful flower; make one space in a room pretty; light a candle and watch the flame. Set a pretty place at the table, using your best things, for a meal. Go to a museum with beautiful art. Go sit in the lobby of a beautiful old hotel. Look at nature around you. Go out in the middle of the night and watch the stars. Walk in a pretty part of town. Fix your nails so they look pretty. Look at beautiful pictures in a book (or online). Go to a ballet or other dance performance, or watch one on TV. Be mindful of each sight that passes in front of you, not lingering on any (driving).

With Hearing:

Listen to beautiful or soothing music, or to invigorating or exciting music. Pay attention to sounds of nature (waves, birds, rainfall, leaves rustling). Sing to your favorite songs. Hum a soothing tune. Learn to play an instrument. Call 800 or other information numbers to hear a human voice. Be mindful of any sounds that come your way, letting them go in one ear and out the other.

With Smell:

Use your favorite perfume or lotions, or try them on in the store; spray fragrance in the air; light a scented candle. Put lemon oil on your furniture. Put potpourri in a bowl in your room. Boil cinnamon; bake cookies, cake, or bread. Smell the roses. Walk in a wooded area and mindfully breathe in the fresh smells of nature.

With Taste:

Have a good meal; have a favorite soothing drink such as herbal tea or hot chocolate or coffee (no alcohol); treat yourself to a dessert. Put whipped cream on your coffee. Sample flavors in an ice cream store. Suck on a piece of peppermint candy. Chew your favorite gum. Get a little bit of a special food you don’t usually spend the money on, such as fresh squeezed orange juice. Really taste the food you eat; eat one thing mindfully.

With Touch:

Take a bubble bath; put clean sheets on the bed. Pet your dog or cat. Have a massage; soak your feet. Put creamy lotion on your whole body. Put a cold compress on your forehead. Sink into a really comfortable chair in your home, or find one in a luxurious hotel lobby. Put on a silky blouse, dress, or scarf. Try on fur-lined gloves or fur coats in a department store. Brush your hair for a long time. Hug someone. Experience whatever you are touching; notice touch that is soothing.

Distress Tolerance Handout 1A

Standard

Crisis Survival Strategies

Distracting

“Wise mind ACCEPTS

With Activities:

Engage in exercise or hobbies; do cleaning; go to events; call or visit a friend; play computer games; go walking; work; play sports; go out to a meal; have decaf coffee or tea; go fishing; chop wood; do gardening; play pinball…

With Contributing:

Contribute to someone; do volunteer work; give something to someone else; make something nice for someone else; do a surprising, thoughtful thing…

With Comparisons:

Compare yourself to people coping the same as you or less well than you. Compare yourself to those less fortunate than you. Watch soap operas; read about disasters; others sufferings…(this creates a sense of gratitude; reminds me that things can always be worse and that I am not the only only one in a distressful situation; this takes the power out of the situation)

With opposite Emotions:

Read emotional books or stories (Bible Study); old letters; go to emotional movies; listen to emotional music. Be sure the event creates different emotions. Ideas: scary movies, joke books, comedies, funny records, religious music, marching songs, “I Am Woman” (Helen Reddy); going to a store and reading funny greeting cards.

With Pushing Away:

Push the situation away by leaving it for a while. Leave the situation mentally. Build an imaginary wall between yourself and the situation. Or push the situation away by blocking it in your mind. Censor ruminating. Refuse to think about the painful aspects of the situation. Put the pain on a shelf. Box it up and put it away for a while.

With other Thoughts:

Count to ten; count in another language; count colors in a painting or tree, windows, anything; work on puzzles; watch TV; read… (Mantra: I’m okay and I am where I am supposed to be right now.)

With Intense other Sensations:

Hold ice in hand; squeeze a rubber ball very hard; kneed silly puddy in hand; stand under a very hard and hot shower; listen to very loud music; sex; put rubber band on wrist, pull out, and let go…