Author: Justin Mckibben
Being the month of THANKSgiving, not to mention the month of Veterans Day to show appreciation for the armed forces, it should come as no surprise that November is recognized by many as National Gratitude Month.
But we know that true gratitude is more than saying “thank you” for what others may do or the things we are fortunate enough to have. Gratitude gives us the ability to look past the negative parts of our situation, our lives or the world we live in and focus on appreciating all the good that we do have. Practicing daily gratitude allows us to create a more profound understanding and connection with ourselves, our loved ones and the world around us. Gratitude creates compassion and empathy; it helps us to be more involved and more self-aware.
But this writer believes that true gratitude takes action. So this month, in observance of National Gratitude Month, I encourage people to take action to share that gratitude with others.
The Practice of Being Grateful
Back in 2015, November was officially proclaimed National Gratitude Month throughout the US and Canada by National Day Calendar. The initial announcement for the observance comes from Stacey Grewal, an author, spiritual mentor and coach who advocated for the proclamation. Grewal stated,
“Gratitude is an essential ingredient of a happy, fulfilling life,”
Grewal herself has been proclaimed a “gratitude guru” who wrote the book Gratitude and Goals.
10 years ago in 2007, Robert Emmons began researching gratitude and found that expressing gratitude improves mental, physical and relational well-being. Practicing gratitude also impacts the overall experience of happiness. All this is typically not a momentary improvement. Many of these benefits turn out to be long-lasting.
Benefits of Gratitude
- Improved physical, emotional, and social well-being
- Greater optimism and happiness
- Improved feelings of connection in times of loss or crisis
- Increased self-esteem
- Amplified energy levels
- Strengthened heart
- Improved immune system
- Decreased blood pressure
- Improved emotional and academic intelligence
- Extended aptitude for forgiveness
- Decreased stress, anxiety, depression
- Reduced headaches
- Improved self-care and greater likelihood to exercise
- Heightened sense of spirituality
There are even a number of events and activities to get involved with this month, including the 30 Day Gratitude Challenge where one can sign up for a daily email that suggests opportunities to practice gratitude in new and interesting ways.
But you don’t have to commit to any event or challenge to help promote gratitude.
Giving with Gratitude
Looking at the definition of gratitude on the all-knowing Google, we find it as:
“The quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.”
Right there we see the inclusion of the concept that gratitude means to at least be willing to take some kind of action, i.e. showing appreciation and returning the kindness.
The way I express my understanding of gratitude is like this:
- If I am grateful for my job, I show up and work hard
- If I am grateful for my home, I respect it and honor it, along with anyone who may live there
- Being grateful for those who have helped me, I help whoever I can when I can
My expression of gratitude means making every attempt possible to ensure I do not take the gifts I have for granted. We should not neglect the things or the people we have in our lives as if we know they will always be there. When we become complacent, our gratitude might slip away.
Recovery from addiction gives us so much more to do with that gratitude.
Grateful for Recovery
In recovery from drugs or alcohol, it can be especially important for many of us to stay grateful. In the recovery community, we hear people all the time talking about how grateful they are to be alive, or how grateful they are to have another chance at life or a fellowship of support in recovery. All of this is so important, but again it takes action.
If we are grateful for the opportunity to get better, we should not squander it with defiance and neglect.
If we are grateful to be alive, we should focus on living better lives and doing something meaning with our lives; even if to you that simply means being a better parent/spouse/child/sibling in your family.
Being grateful reminds us of the kindness of others and the strength that they gave us to get ourselves out of addiction. So we should live by example and help those who still need help, recovering or not. With all the benefits of gratitude we’ve mentioned, it only makes sense that someone in recovery from addiction would want to take advantage of National Gratitude Month as an excuse to exercise that part of themselves. Treating others as if you are already grateful for the opportunity is training for the mind, body, and spirit. For those working to overcome addiction, gratitude can be a
Share the Love for National Gratitude Month
If you want to get involved, it is pretty easy. Just be grateful every chance you get.
In the world, as it is right now we could use more love and gratitude. With so much going on in such divisive times, like the opioid crisis and overdose outbreak tearing apart so many lives, we should take every chance to bring our communities together.
Or if you want to help share the love and raise awareness, share this article with your friends and use #NationalGratitudeMonth on social media posts.
Have an amazing November! Remember to be grateful and to show that appreciation and kindness with action and goodwill toward others!
It’s been said that healing can come from the places you least expect it. Make sure to appreciate the opportunity. For those who are looking for something to be grateful for, it starts with the fact you are still here. If you are suffering or lost, maybe its time for a new foundation. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free now.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
Author: Shernide Delva
Overconfidence in Recovery:
Confidence is supposed to be an excellent quality. We are always told to believe in ourselves in every endeavor we pursue. Whether it is a sport or a school exam, having confidence is touted as the key to success. However, when it comes to addiction recovery, can too much confidence actually become harmful?
Overconfidence Can Lead to Relapse:
The reality is too much confidence is not great in recovery. While it is great to have confidence in your program, it is important to stay humble. The emotions that arise from overconfidence can block underlying issues. Having an overconfident mindset can hinder your recovery process. It is important to make recovery a priority regardless of how much time you have.
Why Overconfidence Encourages Relapse:
- Distorted Self-Image: A major part of recovery is staying humble. Overconfidence makes someone believe that they are not as bad as newcomers. They may start to feel they no longer need their program and start to ponder if they are an addict at all. Overconfidence encourages the belief that it is not a huge deal to have a drink or use casually, which is far from true for an addict.
- Irrational Thoughts: Overconfidence can lead an addict to believe they deserve certain rewards in conjunction to their success. They might feel they are worthy of a celebration. They quickly convince themselves that one drink is not going to hurt them because they are now “in control” of their addiction. This is risky behavior and can lead someone down a slippery slope.
- Complacent Behavior: This is when an addict starts to believe that their addiction is not nearly as bad as they once thought. They start believing that they can now live normally due to the length of time they have been sober. They think they are cured so they slowly stop going to meetings and stop thinking of themselves as an addict. This leads to new addiction or a relapse.
Signs of Overconfidence Include:
- Rejecting suggestions from others
- Seeking immediate results
- Belief in having all the answers
- Always seeing your situation as unique from everyone else
- Feeling that you deserve preferential treatment
- Feeling “healed” or “in control”
- Always wanting to lead instead of listening
It is crucial to understand that addiction will not simply disappear. Regardless of how long you have been sober, addiction can always creep up again. Addiction is not a curable disease; it is a manageable disease that does not have room for overconfidence.
How We Become Too Confident:
Overconfidence may be a trait acquired in recovery, or it can be a trait a person struggled with before sobriety. In fact, most addicts battle overconfidence their entire life. For example, those times you tried to use and thought no one would notice.
Sadly, this behavior can persist after recovery even after hitting rock bottom. Even those with no history of overconfidence can start to become overzealous in their recovery program. They start to believe that they are above the rest of their friends and family because of the work they have done in their recovery.
Consequences of Overconfidence:
When you act too confident, you hurt yourself and others. You hurt others who are still learning to trust the person you have become. You hurt yourself because overconfidence increases the vulnerability to a relapse. It is important to remember that recovery is something that takes effort every single day. Regardless of how much time you have, stay humble in your program. It is better to be safe than sorry.
Remember to support others struggling, and stay focused on your recovery. Overconfidence is not a quality anyone should strive for. Instead, focus on staying sober every single day. If you are struggling to stay sober, or are currently having issues with substance abuse. Please reach out. We want to help you get back on track.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
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
Recently, a form of therapy has garnered massive media attention. It is known as Dialectical Behavioral Therapy or DBT. Even Selena Gomez said it changed her life. Around August of last year, Gomez abruptly ended her Revival tour to recover from “anxiety, panic attacks, and depression,” she states was a result of her lupus condition. She says DBT specifically, allowed her to relearn the coping tools she desperately needed.
But what is DBT?
Dialectical behavioral therapy is a type of cognitive-behavioral psychotherapy used to treat multiple types of mental health disorders. The theory behind the approach is that certain people are prone to react in an intense manner toward certain emotional situations, primarily those found in romantic, family or friend relationships. Often, DBT is used to treat patients with borderline personality disorder or bipolar disorder.
DBT suggests certain people have a higher sensitivity to emotional stimuli. Their emotions tend to spike more quickly than the average person. Because of this, it takes time for them to recover emotionally after experiencing these spikes in emotions.
For example, people with borderline personality disorder struggle with extreme swings in their emotions. They see the world in black-and-white shades, and always jump from one crisis to another. Those around them do not understand their reactions, so this isolates their behavior even more. They lack the coping strategies of dealing with their high surges in emotion. That’s where DBT comes in. DBT teaches them to handle their emotions better.
DBT in three formats:
DBT focuses on helping a person identify their strengths and build on them so they can feel better about themselves and their future.
DBT helps with identifying the thoughts, beliefs, and assumptions that make life harder. For example, the need for perfectionism is a common theme in many people’s lives. The need to be perfect may prevent someone from succeeding entirely. Therefore, DBT helps people acquire new ways of thinking that makes life more bearable. Another common emotion is anger. A person may feel if they get angry, it is their fault, and they are a horrible person. DBT teaches that anger is a natural human emotion.
DBT works in a collaborative environment. Patients are encouraged to work out any relationship conflicts they may have with their therapist and therapists are told to do the same. DBT asks patients to complete homework assignments, role-play and practice coping skills. Then, the individual therapist works one-on-one with the patient to help them master their DBT skills.
Typically, dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) has two main components:
Individual weekly psychotherapy sessions:
These emphasize problem-solving behaviors for the past week’s issues and troubles that arose in a person’s life. Any self-injurious or suicidal behaviors take priority, followed by any problems that could interfere with the therapy process. The weekly sessions in DBT focus on decreasing and dealing with post-traumatic stress response from previous trauma and helping a person enhance their self-worth.
Weekly group therapy sessions:
A trained DBT therapist will lead sessions where people learn skills related to interpersonal effectiveness, distress tolerance/reality acceptance skills, emotion regulation, and mindfulness skills.
The Four Modules of Dialectical Behavior Therapy
Furthermore, there are four modules of dialectical behavioral therapy. They focus on:
Individuals who are suicidal or borderline struggle with emotional intensity. They benefit in learning how to regulate their emotions. Furthermore, DBT teaches skills for emotional regulation such as:
- Identifying and labeling emotions
- Identifying obstacles to changing emotions
- Reducing vulnerability to “emotion mind.”
- Increasing positive emotional events
- Increasing mindfulness to current emotions
- Taking opposite action
Lastly, this area approaches mental health by changing distressing events and circumstances. Individuals learn to bear pain skillfully. They learn to accept themselves and the current situation. While the focus is on nonjudgmental thinking, this does not mean they must approve of the reality: “Acceptance of reality is not approval of reality.”
This principle focuses on asking what one needs and learning to say no. It also emphasizes coping with interpersonal conflict. Those with borderline personality disorder usually have good interpersonal skills. They may lack the skills necessary for generating or analyzing their personal circumstances. This part of DBT focuses on applying coping skills in their particular situation.
In DBT, patients learn the core principles of mindfulness. The focus is on emphasizing what tasks are necessary to practice core mindfulness skills. Furthermore, this area concentrates on the “how” skills and allows the individual to incorporate mindfulness into their daily lives.
Therapy is an essential tool in early recovery. Whether you are struggling with addiction or mental illness, it is crucial to take the first step in transforming your life. Do not feel ashamed if you are currently battling a mental illness or addiction. Instead, take charge of your life by seeking the assistance of professionals. We are waiting for your call. Do not wait. Call today.
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: 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?
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.
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 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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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