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Palm Partners’ innovative and consistently successful treatment includes: a focus on holistic health, a multi-disciplinary approach, a 12-step recovery program and customized aftercare. Depend on us for help with:

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 Offensive Stigma on Store Signs Sparks Outrage in Ohio

Why Offensive Stigma on Store Signs Sparks Outrage in Ohio

Author: Justin Mckibben

As much as I love where I come from, Columbus, Ohio has been through a lot recently. Ohio in general has seen some of the worst addiction and overdose rates in its history, and the state was actually sited as being #1 in opioid overdose deaths in the country. So of course there are very strong opinions about the devastation caused by substance abuse. Having grown up in Columbus, it is sad to see how the community is suffering. It is even more disturbing to see how some are reacting. When I came across this headline and saw the comments being made, not just by the store but from people in support of their remarks, it disturbed me deeply.

Now many across the state are in an uproar about the controversy that has been brought on by one convenience store in Columbus, Ohio. The owners posted hand-written messages around the store that are appallingly indifferent to the pain of the people in their neighborhood.

The signs of stigma…

West Broad Street in Columbus is a side of town I’m pretty familiar with, especially while in active addiction, so I’m sure that plenty of people have seen these signs. The Save Way Mini Mart on West Broad Street displayed the two notes that they hoped would dismay customers from stealing, but some patrons have found it insulting and offensive.

One sign, near the front door, says:

“Keep bags up front. Don’t stink! Take showers. Take care of your kids. Stay sober don’t OD. Nothing is free.”

The second sign was placed above a shelf holding cases of tin foil. Some will use tin foil to cook whatever substance, often heroin but not exclusively, before smoking or injecting it. This one states:

“Attention junkies, go ahead and steal a piece of foil to get high. Just please make sure you OD. Thank you.”

Yes, let this all sink in for a moment. Not just the fact that the word “junkie” is so destructive, but the content that follows is callous.

First thing is first, this is inexplicably ignorant to the reality that is shaking the world right now. With more people across America than ever being hopelessly addicted to drugs and alcohol, and higher rates of overdose deaths than ever in our nation’s history, how can people still believe these kinds of stigma?

According to WSYX/WTTE, a local news source, the store’s management would not speak on camera, but they told the news station they meant no offense, but also said the signs will not be taken down.

Really, no offense?

What is wrong with this picture…

This is wrong on so many levels, and I can’t believe I actually have to explain to some people why, but just in case I’ll give it a shot.

These signs insinuate statements that are so incredibly wrong on so many levels. To sum it up, these signs say:

  • All addicts stink/don’t shower
  • All addicts don’t take care of their children
  • All addicts are thieves
  • If you are an addict, you deserve to overdose (OD)

These are all equally as stigmatic and offensive, but that last part is just disgusting. The amount of indifference toward those in pain must be pretty intense for someone to willfully wish overdose onto someone else. To mock the despair and hardship of some while essentially telling them, and promoting to others, the idea that addicts deserve to overdose. Shrugging off the death of people who battle an insidious illness every day because they are “junkies” is repulsive.

Beyond that, the fact is these signs ignore what statistics have been telling us about addiction being more than just something impacting a certain demographic. These stereotypes are a huge part of the reason why it is taking us so long as a society to move forward.

Not all addicts are homeless! Not all addicts are absentee parents! Not all addicts are poor! Addiction touches the CEOs and stock brokers the same way it touches the unemployed and criminal. When we make such harsh generalizations of people who need our compassion we marginalize people who already often feel chastised, misunderstood or hopeless.

To those who comment…

Now as I said, when I first saw this story, the signs themselves we incredibly shameful, but the comments it received in support of this message and ridiculing addicts only compounded the issue. People who say that people ‘choose’ to be addicts and that they ‘choose’ to do drugs and ruin their lives.

It is baffling how some people still insist addiction is a choice. Even when the medical community recognizes it as a medical condition, people adamantly deny that it is a disease; when many regard it as a brain disorder, consisting of various psychological and physical factors. Yet people still go on about how it is the addicts fault because they chose that life.

Sure, people choose to do drugs, but we don’t choose to become addicted. That isn’t up to use. How many people drink and do drugs in their lifetime and don’t become addicts? More than anyone will ever know. A lot of you have probably had your share of experiments. So count yourself lucky, you didn’t have to walk the path many of us do. Stop being self-righteous; try being grateful.

The stigma is killing us…

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently estimates that 91 Americans are dying of an opioid overdose every day! A true tragedy is that many people struggling with drug addiction never seek help because of the judgment they could face. They prolong their suffering as a result of blatant and baseless stigma, which can have a lasting impact. People are actually dying every day because stigma can discourage people from seeking help.

How many parents avoid getting help because of people who think addiction makes them horrible caregivers, or neglectful and absent? How many families are torn apart because the fear of how it looks to the world to be an addict? How many have died before they could get treatment?

Some people want to treat actions like this as no big deal. This writer thinks this is a pretty big problem. To suggest that a heroin addict, or any addict, deserves to overdose, or even die, for stealing tin foil… is insanely irresponsible and inconsiderate to the wellbeing of not just the afflicted individual, but the community.

Don’t let the stigma block you or your loved ones off from the solution. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free now. We want to help. You are no alone.

   CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135

Liking VS Wanting: Addiction’s Pursuit VS Happiness

Liking VS Wanting: Addiction’s Pursuit VS Happiness

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

Author: Justin Mckibben

Thanks to Facebook, we know how to ‘LIKE’ stuff a whole lot these days. We ‘like’ pictures and videos, blogs and articles, even relationship statuses. Social media has totally changed the ‘like’ game! But that’s not the kind of liking we are talking about here. Not specifically anyway. With the way our senses are wired to seek pleasure we forget the difference between healthy and hazardous stimulation. This should be a no-brainer in relation to addiction. Many of us believe that we drink or use drugs essentially because we like the effect of substances. While there are surely other elements of our mental and emotional lives that contribute to our addiction, we cannot deny it begins often as a means to get something we want.

One idea describes a discernment between liking something and wanting it. Drawing from this logic, I thought it would be cool to relate it to addiction, alcoholism and just experience in life of sobriety.

Two of a Kind

This idea on ‘liking VS wanting’ comes from a 2007 paper in the journal Psychopharmacology. Here the author breaks down the idea of two kinds of pleasure.

  1. Liking

Liking is how we usually think of pleasure. That is to say, we relate it to a state of happiness or satisfaction. Think of the kind of genuine gratification you experience after a good meal, or some cold water when you’re overheated and dehydrated. This is the kind of pleasure defined as liking.

We would think of liking as the kind of pleasure that comes from something like falling in love. It is characterized with feelings like:

  • Contentment
  • Relaxation
  • Safety

This is a powerful pleasure felt at an intrinsic level of fulfillment.

  1. Wanting

This second kind of pleasure comes from the chase. In this context, wanting is probably comparable to lusting or yearning after something. This pursuit is coupled with feelings like:

  • Excitement
  • Anticipation
  • Seduction
  • Empowerment

This wanting pleasure is the thrill of the chase and the burning of desire. Wanting is the kind of impulse that motivates us to do senseless things. Even when we know it to be injurious, we fixate on the pleasure we get from wanting and do it anyway.

I feel like every person reading this can relate to this. To some extent or another we have all been there.

Wanting and Addiction

The most obvious example of wanting is drug use.  The feeling of wanting is strongly connected to the brain’s dopamine system. Chasing the feeling of wanting through substances can intensify from an occasional means of quick-fix satisfaction to an irresistibly compulsive addiction. This typically happens when we rely on feelings of wanting instead of liking for extended periods of time to meet our needs.

How long it takes wanting to transform into ‘craving’ depends on the combination of predisposition to addiction and experience with drug use.

Once habitual reliance on drugs or alcohol creates an overwhelming craving, the wanting feeling wins even if someone feels sick or if using costs them their health and relationships.

This same kind of dopamine response is also relative to other compulsive behaviors such as:

So even when you know you’re not making a wise or healthy choice the wanting can be undeniably strong after relying on it for long enough.

Liking Your Life

The battle between liking and wanting is very real when it comes to the pursuit of happiness. Especially when you think of it as actual happiness versus the pursuit of something you think will make you happy. When you focus on your ‘wanting’ you are chasing things that aren’t necessarily sustainable.

Liking and wanting can be compared to that ‘grass is greener’ ideology. Actually liking your life is savoring the moments and the experiences. True happiness and real gratitude are powerful expressions many addicts and alcoholics find as rewards in sobriety. We learn not to want as much and to enjoy more. This is better than living in a constant state of wanting. It reminds me of when addicts say we have the disease of ‘more,’ meaning we are always chasing the next high instead of living in the true happiness that is already here.

In the future, challenge yourself to find a state of liking where you are and who you are. It’s OK to be ambitious, but don’t let your drive for the next moment make this one right now seem insignificant. Addiction has a way of numbing you to the beautiful things you have now to make you crave things you think will make you feel better. Substance abuse and addiction are more powerful and insidious than most people know, but there is help. Learning to like the life you live is part of the process that leads to strong and lasting recovery.

   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

Mental Strength VS Tough Act

Mental Strength VS Tough Act

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

Author: Justin Mckibben

Mental and emotional strength and stability are not always easy to develop, although many would say it is easier to fake. While some people do legitimately have a stronger sense of self naturally, others will live off a pattern of protecting themselves mentally and emotionally through acting tough. Acting tough may meet your needs as far as a quick fix, boosting the ego as a defense mechanism. Still, the tough act is not a strategy that is sustainable.

Mental strength is not to say you are stronger or smarter than anyone. Lacking in mental strength does not mean you don’t have the same capacity for thought and understanding, it just means when the pressure is potently applied there is more of a chance that you will suffer. Some people think that the tough act will help them improve their mental strength. However acting tough just fakes strength while not allowing people to grow.

Here are some differences between mental strength and putting on a tough act.

  1. Insecurities

The tough act typically has that element of outward ego that proclaims the individual as the best thing breathing. The person will have an overcompensating confidence that insists upon itself. However the truth behind it is the person is overrun with their insecurities. They refuse to expose any weakness, which hinders connection with others.

People with mental strength will actually admit to their faults and invest energy and time into self-improvement. These people realize that while they may fall, they are still able to grow.

  1. Failure

When it comes to falling down, the person using the tough act will insist that failure is not an option. They will never surrender or accept defeat, which means they cannot learn from their losses. The irony is that this attitude rarely prevents people from losing. Meanwhile it blocks them off from trying something new later because the ego fears the loss.

People who have mental strength understand that every failure is just a stepping stone to greatness. Mentally strong individuals view every shortcoming as an opportunity to learn what doesn’t work and build off their new perspective. These people know they fall so they can learn how to get back up.

  1. Denying the Self

The tough act has a pretty recognizable symptom in most cases- the individual only expresses their emotions when it comes to anger. This person will deny their pain, sadness, fear and even excitement. When it comes to pain they would rather grit and bear it then let anyone see them sweat. This again prevents them from growing through their pain and even from setting boundaries.

Mental strength will show itself for what it is. When this person feels fear or sadness they will be honest with others and with themselves. But just because they express these feelings doesn’t mean they let them dictate their lives. Their ability to be self-aware and expressive lets them monitor how their emotions impact their behaviors and their relationships.

  1. Control

This is probably one of the most common traits of people who try to act tough as oppose to actually having mental strength. The tough act will have someone trying to appear as if they are in control, having power over others and dominion over any situation. They try to force their will onto people and circumstances to make sure things go their way because it creates an illusion of strength and superiority.

However, true mental strength comes from having self-control, not controlling others. This individual wants to understand and manage their emotions by directing their own thoughts and perspective because they understand that they are only responsible for their own reaction to any given situation. They know their strength comes from their ability to adapt, not from trying to force life to go their way.

For people who rely on the tough act, it is not to say you have no mental strength, it just means you could build on it holistically to determine where you rely on a misguided ego instead of developing your mental and emotional muscles. The more practice you actually put into exercising mental strength the more you will let go of the act. By changing your strategy and adopting a new attitude toward these feelings you actually better prepare yourself for the journey ahead. When the tough gets going, the tough act doesn’t cut it without the mind to follow through.

In recovery from drugs and alcohol, mental strength is something we have to learn in order to grow and flourish. It is not always easy to break these habits, but if we can separate from the substance and get the foundation we need we have a great shot at becoming stronger than we ever thought possible. 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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