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
(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)
Author: Shernide Delva
A toxic relationship can have a negative toll on your life, especially in recovery. Most of us want to find a partner we can share a connection with; however, settling for less is not the answer. While some relationship struggles are a common part of any relationship, there are some things that can hinder even the most promising connection from being able to grow. In these situations, it might be time to re-evaluate whether the relationship you have is worth holding on to.
A recent article explored signs that partners need to evaluate before they consider staying or letting go of a relationship. A summarized version of the article will help you understand the dynamics of your relationships worth working on and the areas that are a major red flag.
4 Signs to Evaluate Your Relationship
One Person is Doing ALL the Work
Relationships take compromise which means it takes two people to make it work. If you are putting more effort than your partner to the relationship, the relationship will falter. Your relationship will not work until both people are on board. Relationships are very difficult to keep going, and both partners must be fully invested to make it work. No matter how much effort you are putting in, your partnership will not last unless your significant other is working equally hard. You both need to be giving your all. The tremendous amount of compromise, forgiveness, and affection that a healthy partnership requires is too much for one person to bear alone. If you are in a one-sided relationship, it might be time to leave and find somebody who is willing to share the weight and treat you with fairness and respect.
Your Life Plans Are Opposite
You want to travel the world while your partner wants to settle down and have children. You want to roam the streets of the city while your partner wants to live on a farm. Partners not headed to the same destination eventually end up on rocky terms. One will have to compromise their dreams for the other person. The other partner will have the bear the guilt of being with someone who sacrificed everything for them. This deep resentment can interfere in the love that two partners have created together. Unfortunately, this is a very complicated problem to have and required deep evaluating. Remember, your health and recovery are a priority and ultimately, you must choose the lifestyle that sets you up for the most success. To find a relation that works, be true to your soul and seek out a partner whose life path matches your own.
When Times Get Hard, You Separate
Learning to lean on your partner during the challenging times of the relationship can be hard. However, if you only stay together during the good times, that is a huge red flag. There are more struggles waiting for you down the road, and these are major predictors of what is to come. If you find you or your partner distance during a challenge rather than come together, you may need help learning how to come together. Ultimately, pushing each other away will weaken your bond and breed insecurities.
You Do Not Accept Each Other’s Authentic Self
One of the best parts of a committed relationship is knowing your partner loves you despite your flaw. While you both should work on strengthening your flaws, you should feel safe around your partners. If you can not lean on your partner for support, or if your partner makes you feel self-conscious and guilty when it comes to your flaws, that can damage the trust in a relationship. When it comes to recovery, there are areas you are going to continue to be working on, a partner who chips away at your flaws will lower your self-esteem. If you feel you are constantly trying to appear perfect to your partner, it could be time to evaluate the relationship. A relationship that does not allow you to be your true authentic self is a relationship not worth having.
Letting go of a relationship is a difficult and personal decision. However, breaking free of a destructive relationship can open you up to the possibility of a stronger one. Do not settle for less than you deserve. Recovery is about finding the tools to optimize your chance of success. A bad relationship will only hinder you in your journey. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.
By Cheryl Steinberg
Struggling with your spiritual program? Not sure how to maintain being spiritually fit? Well, here are 10 ways to attract positive vibes into your life right now that can bolster your program.
#1. Love yourself and accept you for you
List all the things you love about yourself and practice daily affirmations – whatever it takes to remind yourself of all the things you like and love about yourself.
#2. Give up past resentments and disappointments about yourself
Look at it this way: challenge yourself every day to be a better person than you were yesterday. Remember, it’s progress not perfection. Find a way to forgive yourself about the past and stop with the self-blame and guilt already!
#3. Let go resentments towards other people and events
Stop criticizing and blaming others. Don’t take things personally and remind yourself that what others do is a reflection on them, not you. And as far as things that happen, accept it as life on life’s terms and look to these events and circumstances as chances to grow.
#4. Stop giving your power away
Use your time and energy wisely. Every time you choose to focus on a negative, you are wasting your energy and only attracting more negative energy. Remember, this is about how to attract positive vibes into your life, right now!
#5. Visualize what you want
Try using a vision board. Instead of picturing the worst case scenario, try seeing things as you want them to be. Visualize yourself doing things in a state of perfect health and happiness.
#6. Do not identify any illness or dis-ease as being part of your self or being
When you say things like, “I am sick” or “I am depressed,” you are putting that out into the Universe and also convincing yourself of those things. It then becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Instead, try putting it like this: “I am experiencing depression,” or “I am someone who experiences the disease of addiction.” Better yet, try saying, “I am a person in recovery from addiction.”
#7. Come from love; not fear
Get into the habit of expressing gratitude for anything and everything. One great way to do this is to make a daily gratitude list. You will immediately sense a shift in energy from blasé to bliss.
#8. Recognize that you have the power to heal yourself
Healing power flows from the thoughts you think. Allow positive thoughts to replace the negative ones in order to eliminate stress as well as boost your immune system. You can still believe in a Higher Power; just know that you, too, possess power – the power to take action in order to be better, recover, and heal.
#9. Be happy
Practice being present, in the moment. Choose to be happy. No one and no thing has the power to make you happy or unhappy. When we exist in a state of happiness, we attract positive energy, which, in turn, boosts our immune systems and enables our ability to heal.
#10. Laugh. A lot.
It’s true when they say that laughter is the best medicine. Do what you have to in order to get yourself to laugh: watch funny movies, think about things that have happened or that have been said that make you laugh, or even practice laughing meditation (it’s a real thing and it works!).
These are all great ways to attract positive vibes into your life right now but, you must remember practice these things daily. Think of them as part of your spiritual maintenance.
If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135. Addiction Specialists are at the ready to take your calls and answer your questions – day or night. It’s never too late. Help is available and you are not alone.
By Cheryl Steinberg
You’ve probably heard this a bunch already but, resentments will take you back out. When you take a look at what the word, itself, means, it might give you some insight into why holding resentments can be so detrimental to your recovery. Resentment is close to “re-sentiment” where sentiment means ‘feeling’ and the prefix ‘re-’ means ‘again.’ So, resentment literally means “feeling again (and again).” Therefore, holding resentments is like recycling old, negative feelings, revisiting them over and over again. No wonder they can be such a problem!
Here are the 10 most common resentments in early recovery:
#1. At your sponsor
For telling you something you don’t want to hear.
#2. Having a curfew and other halfway house rules
Many of us in early recovery choose to live in a halfway house for added support, especially because it is suggested to do so. Well, ‘added support’ means having structure and therefore not too much freedom. Often times, it seems that we forget that we signed up for exactly that as soon as a rule is being enforced.
#3. Toward your halfway housemates
Whether it’s that they’re stealing your peanut butter or laundry detergent, or not pulling their own weight when it comes to house chores, it’s quite easy – and common – for people in in early recovery to cop a resentment towards their housemates.
#4. Because of OPP (Other People’s Programs)
People in recovery sometimes can’t avoid the pitfall of taking other people’s inventories and becoming resentful when they see others who talk a big game but aren’t actually living the principles.
#5. When someone’s family is helping them financially
Especially if you’re struggling with money, or a lack thereof.
#6. Because of something someone says in a meeting
Like when someone mentions drugs in an AA meeting or identifies as an ‘addict’ rather than an ‘alcoholic,’ for example.
#7. That someone gets to go home for the holidays
For those who went out of state for treatment and/or to live in a halfway house, that usually means that you don’t get to see your family back home for a while. But for some, whether they are locals to your area or who can afford it, they get to make the trip back home. This for sure leads to resentment on the part of those who stay behind, especially at holiday time.
#8. Because someone else has a car
Meanwhile, you have to take the bus…grrr.
#9. When someone uses
Unfortunately, when it come to the disease of addiction, relapse is quite common. And many of us, when we were in early recovery, would cop a resentment that someone “got to” use, rather than see it for what it is: an unfortunate relapse.
#10. At normies
People who can drink or use successfully – as it’s said – especially friends you used to drink and/or use drugs with. While you turned out to have a real addiction and therefore had to get sober, they could continue to party.
Resentment, envy, and jealousy are all part of the human condition, However, for people in recovery from alcohol and other drugs, copping resentments can be Enemy No. 1 when it comes to staying clean and sober. When you’re feeling resentful, talk to your sponsor and sober supports; and share about it in a meeting. If you are struggling with your sobriety and need help, call toll-free 1-800-951-6135. Addiction Specialists are available 24/7 to take your call.
By Cheryl Steinberg
Although I’m probably on the top (read: older) end of the so-called Millennial generation, I would say that I can identify with these 6 reasons why young people don’t like religion.
- Generation D
Millennials are also referred to as Generation D, or the Digital Generation, because of growing up with technology and not knowing what life was like before cell phones. In this digital age, it’s not just Millennials who are exposed to a variety of faith perspectives online but, they are the ones who spend the most time online.
With access to all these different perspectives, they can “tailor-make their own religion,” one expert notes. Case in point: “I go to the Internet and when I’m stuck and I’m not sure, the research is right there; the answers are right there,” one Millennial student explains.
With immediate access to alternate sources – by way of clicking hyperlinks, shuffling iPods and surfing TV channels – the mind is actually trained to see the world spatially rather than temporally. This introduces it to various perspectives and points of view. Theoretically, for many Millennials, it’s hard to believe one person possesses the ultimate Truth; because there are too many truths ‘out there.’
- The Millennial Way of Life
Other experts suggest that the “Millennial way of thinking” informs their belief system: “They are absolutely appalled at the conflict and war that competing exclusivist religions can engender. According to Millennial logic, they can’t all be right, so they must be all wrong. Political parties are viewed the same way.”
Other aspects of the Millennial way of life, such as tattoos, inclusiveness, hipsterism, and social networking, don’t really mesh well with most established religions, that are more ‘old school.’
The word ‘religion’ is a major part of why young people are indifferent or even against religion. One pastor says, “I think their generation is really turned off by the term religion. They see it as a set of rules or something that represents the past.”
In an Introductory to Religion class, a professor posed this question to his students: “What comes to mind when you hear the word religion?” Of the 22 out of 30 students who responded, all but one expressed a negative view of religion. And these are Millennial students at a small, church-affiliated school in rural North Carolina, not some “some secular bastion of higher education,” as the professor put it. For many Millennials, it seems, just the word religion evokes contempt.
- The Consumer Culture
The consumer culture in this country – along with the church’s attempts to embrace it via evangelical mega-churches – are other reasons that Millennials are feeling ‘turned off’ by religion. Today’s young people generally seek to distance themselves from large institutions. One Millennial cringes at “performance churches” saying, “Having been advertised to our whole lives, we Millennials have highly sensitive BS meters, and we’re not easily impressed with consumerism or performances.” In fact, she argues, the “church-as-performance is just one more thing driving us away.”
- The Merging of Church and Politics
Finally, Millennials, most of whom identify as independents and vote Democratic, are turned off by the increasingly intimate relationship between church and politics. They are “sick of the association we commonly make, in our culture, between ‘being religious’ and having a conservative political agenda,” a professor of theology explains.
- Evermore “P.C.”
Millennials tend to be firmly grounded in P.C. culture, and although that stands for ‘politically correct,’ that term doesn’t quite seem to embrace it all. Millennials are also very socially-minded and generally-speaking have a greater awareness and acceptance to all walks of life: gay people, transgendered people, people of color and other minorities (read: women).
That said, the Church and other institutions of dogmatic religion – although they preach brotherly love – have a tendency of being judgmental, misogynistic, homophobic, and racist. A maddening hypocrisy.
Are you seeking recovery but not “sold” on the idea of going to church or seeking religion as a solution? Do you have a resentment against God? Have no fear; there are many of us agnostics and atheists recovering from alcohol and other drugs. There are many paths to recovery and healing from substance abuse and addiction. Call an Addiction Specialist today at toll-free 1-800-951-6135.