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Why Shaming People with Addiction Doesn’t Really Work

Why Shaming People with Addiction Doesn’t Really Work

Author: Justin Mckibben

Does anyone else remember that episode in Game of Thrones when Cersei Lannister (played by the amazing Lena Headey) was marched naked through the streets of King’s Landing for the “walk of atonement”? During this public ritual punishment, the Queen Mother is followed by Septa Unella, who rings a bell to attract the attention of the crowd while repeatedly crying out “Shame!” to encourage the people to leer and jeer at Cersei.

Remember how well that worked out… for everyone… especially Septa Unella?

Well, in case you are one of those people who have never watched this show and have no clue what I’m talking about… SHAME!

But seriously, the thought of it drives home a big point about how people try to use shame and disgrace to modify the behaviors they disapprove of. People in modern times, outside of the 7 kingdoms, will say stuff like “shame on you” or “you should be ashamed of yourself” in an attempt to deter someone from doing something they do not agree with. Sometimes, with good intentions, parents use this tactic as an alternative to physical punishment. Other times people will use shame to manipulate and control others.

But does shame really work? In the case of shaming people with addiction, it doesn’t seem to go far at all.

Shame VS Guilt

One thing people first have to understand is the difference between shame and guilt. Some would say that someone who has no shame is someone who lacks humility or a conscience. People may say that if you don’t feel ashamed, you must think you are too good for others or have no consideration of others. However, that is not necessarily the case.

When someone feels guilt, that is something from within that compels us to see the fault in our own actions. Guilt is based on your own view of something you have said or done that has been harmful to others. It is the consciences way of keeping us in check. Guilt and shame are not the same thing.

Shame is how we experience the disapproval of others. It is the adverse emotional response to being singled out and judged by others for being wrong or doing wrong. So guilt tells us that we know something we are doing is wrong, but shame is the outside world telling us it is wrong even if we don’t feel that inside.

To sum it up:

Acting with clear knowledge that a behavior is unacceptable is what typically inspires feelings of guilt. Thus, it is associated with a specific behavior and is not likely associated with psychological distress such as depression.

Shame can relate specifically to one’s entire self. It says “I am wrong” instead of “my choice was wrong”. This can put people at risk of developing unhealthy conditions like:

Why Shaming Doesn’t Work

Shaming someone into changing is manipulating their fear or social isolation or criticism to control their behavior. Our connection to each other is so crucial for out well-being, both psychologically and physically, that it can often be used against us. For some people the level of social rejection from shaming will scare them into avoiding that emotional punishment. Yet there is still an issue with this method at its core.

It’s like in that movie Inception, when Leonardo DiCaprio taught us all how to dream within a dream (I’ve been watching a lot of TV lately). At one point they talk about how an idea implanted in the mind won’t take if the mind knows it wasn’t organic; if it didn’t come from within.

Shame can be like that. If you tell someone that they should be ashamed of themselves for using drugs, they might stop because they need the social connection. However, if they do not themselves see that their drug use is harming themselves and others, then shaming them will drive them into hiding to avoid persecution.

For many who suffer with substance use disorder the addiction itself has an extreme emotional attachment of some kind. If the individual is motivated enough to use drugs, or believes they are capable of control without consequence, the shame will only result in them hiding their problems even more and further isolating themselves.

Shame and Stigma and the Self

The shame of the stigma of addiction can be counterproductive to an addict getting help. Ultimately, shame can drive stigma and further damage the individual’s chances of personal development. People can internalize shame and sabotage their self-worth, which often causes people to care less about their own safety.

If their choices are being dictated by anxiety then the destructive habits can increase as the shame drives them to remove themselves from those who disapprove of them. This isn’t only true for addiction. Shame can influence other adverse actions, such as:

Shaming people with addiction or people with mental health disorders is only supporting the stigma that make them feel separated from us. Telling an addict to be ashamed of themselves for their addiction may force them to do something, but this strategy is vastly ineffective when compared to compassion and support.

Research has shown shame is especially damaging when inflicted by someone who the individual is deeply connected to. Parents, family members, spouses and loved ones who shame each other create lasting imprints on one another. That strong emotional leverage can create an even deeper divide between us and the ones we love by diminishing our self-worth.

So shaming our loved ones who struggle with addiction may be less likely to inspire them to get help and more likely to scare them away from asking us for help when they need it.

No Pain No Shame

So to clarify, shaming someone may seem like it gets the job done, but in reality it is not effective at motivating healthy behaviors. In fact, shaming someone creates social withdrawal and undermines self-esteem. For someone struggling with substance use disorder, there is probably already enough feelings of disconnect of self-defeatism without being shamed.

Again, this doesn’t mean you can’t communicate with someone about how their behavior is impacting you. Setting boundaries and being honest is still important, but doing so in a compassionate way is more conducive to encouraging someone to do the right thing for the right reasons.

If we want to avoid hurting one another, we should avoid trying to shame each other into doing what we want. Shaming people with addiction isn’t going to heal their affliction. Making them feel separate and alone will not inspire the kind of change that creates stronger bonds. Focusing on celebrating good deeds can help a lot more than dwelling on every bad one and holding it over someone’s head.

Nurturing recovery is more powerful than shaming addiction.

Having a family member who has suffered can be harder on you than you know. Too many people don’t know how to get the help they need for their loved ones, and too many of our loved ones suffer for too long because they are afraid of the affects that the ones they care about most will face. If you or someone you love is struggling, please call toll-free now.

CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135

4 Questions on Self-Love VS Narcissism

4 Questions of Self-Love VS Narcissism

(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)

Author: Justin Mckibben

Narcissism is a word that gets thrown around a lot these days. The “selfie society” that exists in a world of social media has some people saying we are more concerned with ourselves than ever. The new heightened sense of self-promotion causes many to feel we have become less interested in true connection with others. The truth is, there is nothing wrong with healthy self-love. Some may see it as simply embarking on self-exploration and celebration. Others may see it as self-seeking and being conceded. Are you more conscious, or are you pretentious? Are you introspective or disconnected?

At times the distinction becomes blurred, and that might not be your fault. Sometimes others will perceive us differently and it’s not our responsibility to change their minds. Sometimes people are afraid to give themselves the self-love they need because they don’t want to seem self-centered, but isn’t there a strong difference between self-love and narcissism?

True Narcissism

Let us be clear; narcissists seem to love themselves to an extreme, with the exclusion of others. This is often considered as a feature of a mental health disorder and includes an excessive interest in one’s self, especially physical appearances. It is the pursuit of gratification from vanity or egotistic admiration of one’s own attributes.

If you were to look up the definition of narcissism, you would probably find it also described as a social or cultural problem. It is a factor in trait theory used in various self-report inventories of personality.

Narcissism is most typically considered an issue in an individual’s or group’s relationships with self and others.

Egocentrism

Let us also be clear that narcissism is not the same as egocentrism. It is true that both egocentrism and narcissism appear comparable. However there is a distinct difference.

Much like a narcissist, a person who is egocentric believes they are the center of attention. However, this individual does not receive gratification by one’s own admiration, as the narcissist does. In other words, the egocentric individual must receive validation and admiration from outside itself, so the self-love aspect is not so much an issue from the egocentric perspective.

Self-Love

Self-love is being more subject to the broad-stroke of “narcissism” over time, but should be viewed in a different light. For example, two forms of narcissism are not considered to be as detrimental:

  • Primary Narcissism

Freud suggested that, simply put, the desire and energy that drives one’s instinct to survive is something he dubbed primary narcissism. This sense of self-preservation is supposedly ingrained in everyone as a sense of self that protects us, without abandoning empathy or loving others.

  • Healthy Self-love

The “healthy narcissist” can be characterized as possessing realistic self-esteem without being cut off from a shared emotional life. This expression of self-love, or “health narcissism,” is about having a honest appraisal of ones worth, and still valuing others.

All of this brings us back to the question; How can we love ourselves in a way that feels good and enhances the quality of our lives, but isn’t narcissistic?

Research finds four consistent differences between healthy self-love and narcissistic love. Take a look at these 4 questions that can help you with self-love vs narcissism.

  1. Do I need to be validated by others?

Narcissists need the validation of others; it is a primary motive for a lot of their actions. A true narcissist craves constant affirmation. They need to be verified by others because they haven’t created a self-sustaining sense of worthiness or self-compassion. They may seem to hold themselves highly, however they have no genuine instinct of high self-regard.

The narcissist will do things to win praise and recognition. They seek materials as tools to measure their own worthiness. Even the people they develop relationships with are possessions they use as a means of validation.

Healthy self-love is fundamentally different in the sense of measuring self-worth. With health self-love, an individual’s internal values are a primary influence of their actions. They behave in a way that is consistent with those values, and these convictions help to sustain their good feelings about themselves.

In other words, basing your self-worth on your beliefs, instead of what others may believe about you, is self-love.

  1. Am I focusing on my appearance or my performance?

This isn’t just for the sake of aesthetics either. It ties right into the last question.

A true narcissist will often make a great actor. They play many parts, such as:

  • Caring friend
  • Devoted lover
  • Good employee

But they are better at keeping up appearances than actually performing the role with expertise and aptitude. Like when an action movie hero does well at looking like they beat up a room full of ninjas, but in reality they have CGI and stunt doubles.

A narcissist doesn’t invest too much emotionally in the actual quality of their performance. They don’t mind how their role as a friend or lover actually impact the other person, they just want to make it look good, especially if other people are looking. It is another form of validation.

People with authentic self-love take real care in doing a good job and taking responsibility for their part in things, particularly in relationships. So it is very acceptable to be concerned with your contribution to relationships and how you impact others, because in a way you earn your own self-love from the way you treat others.

  1. Am I focusing on comparison or compassion?

Another huge piece of this puzzle is comparison. How do you perceive others in contrast to yourself?

Typically, narcissists are not self-loving or secure in their worth. Because of this, they often seek to compare ourselves with others. Now this isn’t especially exclusive to full-blown narcissism, because we all have a tendency to try and measure up.

But the narcissist will thrive on the belief that they are better than, or even the best. We all feel better about ourselves when we are accomplished or exceptional at something, but to require to always outshine others is a little more relevant to narcissism. The focus here isn’t so much on us being able to appreciate our own achievement as much as it is the need for other people to be less. In order for a narcissist to be more, other people have to be beneath them. It isn’t self-worth; it is self-inflation through the dispossession of others.

Healthy self-love and self-esteem is based on believing that we have a number of positive qualities, and that other people have such qualities. It puts us on a more level playing field and allows us to be compassionate whether or not someone is as accomplished in something as we are. So it is OK to excel at something, as long as you don’t make it about other people being less.

  1. Do emotions and attitudes seem “black and white?”

We have mentioned before the real dangers of black and white thinking. In the words of the great Obi-Wan Kenobi,

“Only a Sith deals in absolutes.”

Basically, the issue is that some people only let it be one of two ways. It has to be black or white, no room for grey area or compromise.

Research indicates a narcissists tends to either love or hate things. They don’t to tolerate the middle ground. Usually, something with themselves or others is either preferable and exceptional or totally unacceptable. They are either everything or nothing, instead of just letting it be.

As a result, when we can’t abide our own uncomfortable feelings, we’re more likely to project them onto others. Once we force those feelings onto others we create conflict, isolation, and self-disillusionment.

Healthy self-love allows us to tolerate uncertainty. It is important to have self-love because with a strong sense of self-love we have the ability to experience our own vulnerability. Where a narcissist feels angry or intolerant of their own vulnerability, a healthy, self-loving person will naturally resort to self-compassion. This same compassion for ourselves gives us a chance to feel more connected to others.

So don’t look at self-compassion as “letting yourself off the hook,” look at it as accepting your imperfections with humility.

Recovery is Self-Love

At the end of the day, what is the moral of the story here?

Is it OK to just assume that people who have a high opinion of themselves, who believe in their own capacity to be unique and successful, and who value and respect their own impact on other people should be considered narcissists? Should the term “healthy narcissist” be something we swap for self-love once in a while to consider it as a virtue?

In recovery we hear a lot about how addicts and alcoholics are especially selfish. As often as we are told this, should we also be reminded to use our own nature as selfish people in recovery to shape that sense of self into something more constructive and empowering instead of thinking we need to abandon it completely?

Let us not be so quick to label one another as narcissists, and learn to love ourselves thoroughly as we learn again to love each other.

Mental health and self-esteem is extremely important in regards to addiction recovery. Holistic treatment programs like Palm Partners are specifically designed to address unique issues in unique ways. If you or someone you love is struggling, please call toll-free now. We want to help.

   CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135

Why I’m a Hug Dealer: The Helping Power of Hugs

Why I’m a Hug Dealer

Author: Justin Mckibben

We’ve all heard that oh-so-clever cliché that has been used by generic T-shirt makers and plastered on ironic bumper-stickers… “HUGS NOT DRUGS.” You may have heard it so often that it has become a bit irritating. Some guy at your favorite coffee shop who collects random graphic shirts with witty quotes probably wears that one like he invented it. But realistically, the concept of a “friendly neighborhood HUG dealer” is probably a lot more valuable than it sounds.

The truth is that when you take into account the impact of physiology on your sociology and psychology, it makes a lot more sense for most people. When examining the physical science behind our response to hugs, it should be obvious that dealing out hugs like it’s your business do well for our mental health.

Skin deep…

Ok, so remember in science class how they explained your skin is the largest organ of your body? Ok, show off, I don’t! But still, it is. While skin keeps a lot of the bad stuff out, it also takes in a lot. Skin collects external data from the world around us and sends it to the brain for processing. The most effect body parts for picking up precise pieces of sensory measurements are:

  • Finger tips
  • Soles of our feet
  • Lips

Now knowing that, it makes sense that a hug provides us with a bevy of complex responses neurologically. A hug creates a reaction in the brain that is sent through our sensitive nerve endings, giving us a good feeling.

Cortisol

Research has told us that stress causes our body to produce a hormone called cortisol. Cortisol actually slows down the healing process while create something like cliff-note memories in the mind. These cliff-notes will be stored in relation to circumstances to teach us how to avoid that same stress in the future.

Another thing Cortisol does when we experience social rejection is make us more willing to make friends and establish connections. For example, if people are in stressful situation as a group, they often bond through their shared peril. When a natural disaster occurs communities unite, and we probably have Cortisol to thank for that. Stress creates an environment where we will seek comfort and protection through one another.

Oxytocin

Then through empathy we react in a supportive nature when someone we know is stressed. Naturally many people will offer a hug of support and compassion, thus igniting the body’s natural means of a “high” through Oxytocin!

Oxytocin itself is a neurochemical that has a few positive effects on an individual, including:

  • Building trust
  • Dissolving short-term memory
  • Warm, fuzzy feeling

Researchers have even discovered that Oxytocin can speed the physical healing of wounds!

So when you offer someone in pain a hug it not only gets the Oxytocin pumping to keep those good feelings going, but it also helps the body disconnect from the memory of painful stimulus. Giving a hug not only jump-starts the body’s ability to heal, but protects it form creating harmful associations to circumstances.

2 Birds, 1 Hug

The big thing about being a “hug dealer” is that it is actually killing two birds with one stone- or two burdens with one hug.

How? Simple; doing good makes us feel good.

If you are an empathetic creature then you instinctively want to help heal someone who is hurting. When we see someone in great pain we intuitively put ourselves in their shoes and feel what they feel. Feeling their pain can get into our heart and soul. So we hug them to heal us both at once without even knowing it.

All together we can gather from this information that being a “hug dealer” makes an impact on the lives of both parties, and usually doesn’t result in indescribable misery or criminal charges… well, at least just don’t hug strangers without permission.

  1. A hug promotes social connections
  2. A hug relieves stress
  3. A hug helps build trust
  4. A hug promotes empathy
  5. A hug disrupts unhealthy memories of association
  6. A hug helps active the healing process

There are so many reasons why we are wired to find comfort and healing in a welcoming and supportive embrace. It communicates to us both directly and subconsciously that we are not alone and we do not need to suffer.

That’s why I am a “hug dealer,” because I see the value in offering comfort and connection to people in pain. I’ve known pain in my life; I know the value of a personal connection. Creating love and compassion in that kind of connection is the cheapest high I have ever known. Everyone should be a “hug dealer,” not just for others, but for their own good. It just feels good to embrace another person, especially when they need it most. Our bodies are just build that way, and we should take more advantage of it than we do. Look at the world around you- at your relationships and at your community- wouldn’t a hug once in a while help?

Come on, bring it in… first one is free!

Empathy, compassion and connection are much needed in the world today as a whole. For the addict, it may seem like something so far forgotten. In reality, connection is one of our deepest needs and can be the greatest natural high. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135

5 Symptoms of Self-Disrespect You Should Stop NOW

5 Symptoms of Self-Disrespect You Should Stop NOW

(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)

Author: Justin Mckibben

Who among us has not been warned in our lifetime that we should treat others how we want to be treated, and that in every relationship the way we behave with others is a subconscious but very realistic reflection of how we treat ourselves. Self-esteem and self-respect have a lot to do with the conversations we have with ourselves, and those thoughts and emotions translate easily into the way we communicate in all relationships. Self-disrespect can easily cloud our interactions with others as we project those feelings of inadequacy, distrust and negativity outward for the hurt we are pouring inward.

When we listen to ourselves with love and acceptance, it becomes acutely more organic and authentic with others. And when we respect ourselves, the lives we lead become more fulfilling and less deprecating.

Here are 5 symptoms of self-disrespect you should stop now to be happier and have healthier relationships.

  1. You get angry a lot

Some would say that anger is a chaotic expression of our ego, typically boiling up beyond our control in the face of being dissatisfied with a current situation.

Anger comes from the ego getting fed up with the fact its needs are not being met, emotionally or psychologically, and your mind is either imploding on itself or erupting onto others in unhealthy ways. Letting go of being angry can seem impossible at times, but in order to stop disrespecting your worth and better serve yourself you have to stop being so angry with the circumstances and take responsibility for what you can do to change them.

  1. You seek outside validation

When we feel like something is missing in us, we often look to external elements to fill this void. With some of us that became drugs and alcohol, gambling or other addictions; people do the same with other people. Seeking validation from others constantly is self-disrespect because it is almost another way of saying you and your own standards aren’t good enough.

Seeing this form of self-disrespect for what it is we realize we are the cause and effect; we are both sides of the coin. Seeking the validation from within lets you love yourself. Believe that how you measure your worth is the only gratification you need.

  1. You pass a lot of judgment

People who judge are often people who are deflecting something about themselves that makes them uncomfortable. I can’t be the only one who has ever heard that expression that we often judge others harshly when they remind us of things we resent about ourselves.

We all have darker shades of the self, and sometimes we lash out at others because we can catch a peak of our own shady side when we see someone do something we oppose. Accepting that we are all flawed and taking notice of the issue as an aspect of your own humanity can help you heal. Don’t feed into self-disrespect and the disrespect of others by looking down on anyone, including yourself.

  1. You let others make your decisions

This one almost goes hand in hand with seeking outside validation. Needing the approval of others in the choices you make in your life is another form of self-disrespect that we have to overcome in order to honor ourselves more in life.

It’s ok to get advice from friends, family and professional peers. We need to be inspired and educated at times. But the point is you cannot let the opinions and perspectives of others dictate your life. Be mindful of your own intuition and experience in your decisions and, again, accept that they are valuable. Stop doing thing you don’t believe in or don’t like- be it in professional or in your relationships or whatever- and start making decisions that break the cycle.

  1. You don’t live from the heart

Your heart is the most remarkable and powerful muscle in your body. It pumps all the life-force into the rest of you and fuels the feelings that set fire to every nerve in the conscious mind for what you want in your life. The issue of self-disrespect comes when you bury that fire out of fear, doubt or simply neglect.

Give yourself the healthy space to evaluate what you feel, because feelings can often distort and hinder what it is you truly want. But the inner knowing of who you are in your heart and what you want should be trusted. This intrinsic expression isn’t there to hurt you; it is there to show you the best of yourself, even when you see those darker shades in the reflection.

Whatever you do in life, don’t let it lead to self-disrespect. It is ok to question your feelings and your thoughts, and it is ok to get help and appreciation from others, but do not lose sight of your own worth. Do not let the negative ego deter you from knowing who you really are, and don’t let anyone else tell you otherwise. Part of self-respect is to make better choices in order to change your life. For some that means getting help. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135

Why It Feels Good to Listen to Sad Songs

Why It Feels Good to Listen to Sad Songs

(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)

Author: Justin Mckibben

From Gary Jules and “Mad World” to Bob Dylan and “Knocking on Heavens Door,” from Jonny Cash and “Hurt” to R.E.M. and “Everybody Hurts,” then even more current like Foo Fighters singing “Best of You” and Adele singing “Hello” people seem to love listening to sad songs. Music moves us, and some more than others.

So many popular hits throughout time have been some of the saddest sad songs, ranging in context from loss of a loved one to heartbreak and substance abuse, sad songs seem to just get people. Often times sad songs actually move us deeply and in a more memorable way than happier ones.

So why is it that sad songs are so popular and people actually want to listen to them? Why does it feel so good to listen to sad songs?

Studies Seeking Sad Music

Probably one of the strangest things about sad songs is that people seem avid to readily consume music that can leave them feeling bad or recalling unpleasant events. One would wonder why people wouldn’t listen to uplifting music instead of songs that could depress them if they have such a vast world of music available to them.

  • Exhibit A

One study published last year in Frontiers in Psychology said that sad music might make people feel vicarious unpleasant emotions, but this experience can ultimately become a satisfying one because it allows a negative emotion to exist indirectly, and at a safe distance from the actually direct circumstances of that experience.

So instead of feeling being activity in the moment and wrapped up in the sorrow of the situation first hand, people get to feel nostalgia for a time when they were in a similar emotional state, but sad songs are perceived as a non-threatening way to remember sadness.

  • Exhibit B

According to another study in Frontiers of Psychology, there are a few different reasons different types of people feel good listening to sad songs.

People who are more empathetic are more likely to enjoy the kind of emotional experience created by sad songs. 

According to a review published in 2015 in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, other people enjoy sad songs because this kind of music helps them return to an emotionally balanced state.

Then there are those more susceptible to varied experiences who might enjoy sad songs because the unique emotions that come up when listening to the music fulfill their need for novelty in thoughts and feelings.

What all the data concludes is that in the end an individual’s love of a particular song or genre of music could have roots in their specific personality. So depending on the personality, the reaction to sad music may differ, but we end up feeling good when listening to sad music because it feeds some of our most basic needs.

Our Needs

Our need for significance is typically met by sad music because we feel a unique and deep personal attachment to songs that relate to our intimate experiences. Sad music helps us to feel more significant about the depth of our situations.

Our need for certainty is met because we can usually be certain about the connections we make with sad songs and with the feelings they bring up for us. Sad songs can anchor us into a memory or a belief that we know to be a truth in our lives.

Our need for uncertainty is also being met because we are reminded that there is still a side of loss in life. We are reminded of the elements of ambiguity and freedom that exist and how we will not always be in control of what happens or how we feel.

Our need for connection is met because sad songs can unite us with people who empathize with our sentiment or experiences. If we listen to sad love songs we can remember a deep connection we once held on to, or we can recall the connection we had to someone close to us who has passed on.

Sad songs make us feel good for all kinds of reasons. Some would even say sad songs are good for our mental health, and that need for variety is met because we get to know the highs and lows of life for the lessons and stories they hold for us. We see the sun can’t shine all the time, but we see the rain for being beautiful.

Music is one thing that can have some influence on how we feel, and sometimes reminds us how intensely we can feel. Having a healthy emotional response is one way we develop as healthier people. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135

 

 

 

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