Author: Justin Mckibben
Studying Compassionate Goals
A recent study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology actually states that compassionate goals we set are about
“- striving to help others and avoiding selfish behavior” for example, “making a positive difference in someone else’s life.”
Researchers here measured how participating in self-image goals and compassionate goals had an impact on symptoms of depression and anxiety, along with their conflict with others.
This study concluded that its results suggest there is a very real relevance of self-image and compassionate goals for the interpersonal maintenance of issues like depression and anxiety.
Principally, the results held some pros and cons for people with anxiety. The downfall is that trying to boost self-image by avoiding vulnerability backfires, leaving people more depressed and anxious. This can create a difficult cycle to escape from emotionally.
The good news is that by focusing on helping others, we make everyone involved, including ourselves, feel better. This is because showing compassion through action doesn’t just relieve our anxiety or depression in the moment, but it helps us build our relationships, which can reduce anxiety and depression as they grow stronger and healthier. It is a win-win. In recovery from drugs or alcohol, we should take all the wins we can get.
4 Ways to Help Others that Help Us
If you want to utilize acts of kindness to help you grow in your recovery, there are plenty of ways to do it. Here are just 4 examples of things you can do to help others that will help you.
Making constructive comments to others
”Words are singularly the most powerful force available to humanity.”
That statement is no exaggeration. If the pen is mightier than the sword, the spoken word is truly the undisputed champion.
In recovery use your words to help others. Make constructive comments that serve to build others up, while pointing out their strengths and celebrating their successes. This helps us develop a habit of focusing on the good in one another and ultimately in our communities and our lives. It can also build up our relationships to give us strong support.
Having compassion for others’ mistakes
“Experience is simply the name we give our mistakes”
For a lot of people, it is already hard enough to accept their mistakes. Most of us are our worst critics. No one likes people pointing out their shortcomings. We all make mistakes. Try to be compassionate about it when others slip up.
Why is it important to show companion when someone else makes a mistake? Because not only does giving someone an empathetic response make them feel better, it also reinforces our relationship with them. It shows those around you that you are understanding and humble enough to support someone through their mistake without shaming them or holding it over their head.
In recovery, this means a lot because it is important to remember that we are also a work in progress. We have our own faults, and if we want to build a new life we have to move on from the old. Compassion can even help others show you the same support when it’s your turn to mess up.
Don’t be self-centered
“A selfish man is a thief”
In most recovery fellowships there is an emphasis on avoiding the self-centered behavior. Being self-centered is never really beneficial in the long-term, even if it helps you with some level of instant gratification. In addiction recovery, being so self-involved can be counter-productive to healthy growth.
Surely it is ok to take care of yourself and honor yourself. But being self-centered makes it less about self-care and more about self-seeking and being inconsiderate.
In fact, high levels of depression and anxiety tend to make us turn inward and focus on ourselves even more. The worse we feel the more isolated we become. Being considerate of others and finding a way to help them can actually relieve anxiety and depression by turning that energy outward.
In recovery, we should think of others as we improve ourselves. When we realize we must make choices and take action to benefit people other than ourselves, our compassion gives us perspective.
Avoiding harming others
“If you can, help others; if you cannot do that, at least do not harm them.”
Last but certainly not least, we can easily help ourselves and others by not causing harm. If you can’t make someone’s life better, at least don’t make it worse. You don’t have to necessarily go out of your way and do random acts of kindness, but at least don’t do random harm to others.
And this kind of compassion is pretty much just common courtesy. It can be active on a small scale and still impact you in recovery. You can throw your trash in a garbage can so someone else doesn’t have to sweep it up later. You could put away your shopping cart at the grocery store, or even use that crazy ‘turn-signal’ thing everyone keeps talking about when you’re driving.
While these seem like silly examples, for some people it goes a long way to just be considerate with the little things. It helps build character slowly but surely, while also giving us a sense of our impact on other people. If we can learn to so how our small kindnesses add up, maybe we will be more aware of the power in our bigger decisions.
Compassion in Addiction Recovery
It might not always be easy, but the important choices often aren’t easy. In addiction recovery, we should try to work on ourselves as often as we can, especially for the benefit of others. If our actions can make a positive effect and help someone else, while helping us stay clean and sober, we are on the right track.
But how do we start on that path?
If you want to begin a new journey that will help you build the life you deserve, while helping those you love most, there is help. If you or someone you love is struggling, please call toll-free now.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
Author: Justin Mckibben
Sunday Funday? Hump Day Wednesday? Freaky Friday? Semantics Saturday… okay, maybe that last one isn’t a thing.
Still, the point is that we have these clever nick names and common associations with days of the week. We all hear that oh-so-clever cliché about the dreaded “case of the Mondays” and we all have our schedules to keep. But is there a day of the week that is commonly more inspiring than others?
While we can look back at examples in history it may be debatable since so many different amazing things were accomplished on different days of the week. Depending on your unique schedule there may be an alternative for you. However, some would suggest that there may actually be a more inspiring day of the week than any other.
Can you guess which day it is?
Yep, we’re talking about that frequently forgetful day with no clever name. This is a day of profound inspiration to some. It is the same day Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence. It is the day Facebook was said to be created by Mr. Mark Zuckerberg. It is the day this article was written!
Thank God for Tuesday!
Now I’m sure a lot of you didn’t see that coming. Especially considering the famous reputations of Friday and Saturdays, not to mention Sundays. But as it turns out, studies have found this days to be uninspiring in comparison. A professor of psychology at the College of William and Mary named Todd Thrash became the lead researcher for a scientific study on inspiration. Almost by accident he came to this surprising conclusion. Thrash had collected a group of people to track on a daily basis:
Tuesday didn’t only barely beat out Fridays and Sundays, it demolished them in a landslide. In fact, the study suggests Tuesday is 79% more inspiring than Friday!
Some answers as to why Tuesday would win over the others may vary. However one way to look at it is Tuesday puts us in the heat of our workflow for the week and challenges us to rise to the occasion. Realization strikes and we know we have stuff to get done, so this is the day we start really laying the ground work for our week.
In essence I guess it isn’t really all that shocking. If you look at it:
- Monday- low energy as people return to work and find themselves back in the arms of monotony
- Wednesday- People are happy to remind themselves they are halfway through their week
- Thursday- Basically like “Friday’s Eve” for a lot of people
- Friday- Happiness hits as joy and freedom follow the end of the work week
- Saturday- Sleeping in and watching cartoons… (or is that just me?)
- Sunday- Sacred for many cultures, also another chance to sleep in and catch up on rest before work week begins again
We are also talking inspiration in relation to productivity. Frequently moments of stress and work inspire us to produce results. We are inspired by challenges to overcome and goals to seek out. Tuesday is a perfect time for setting goals and assessing your challenges before pushing through the week. Most Mondays are too grumpy to get that far.
How About Now?
At the end of the day, you have to inspire yourself anyway. What better time than right now? If you ask me… the most inspiring day is TODAY… (Which just so happens to be Tuesday, but you get the point)… right now! Today is the best day to be inspired! But it is up to you to seek it out and bring it into your life. Look for things to be grateful for. Really look at the world around you and recognize the beauty of it staring back at you. It is always there.
No matter what day it is; no matter what time it is… be inspired NOW!
Every day is a chance to set your mind towards change. Every day we have a chance to make a difference. We can make this the day that we give up all over again, or we can make it the day we made a choice that inspired a new life. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 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
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.
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.
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.
- 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.
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
(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)
Author: Justin Mckibben
As someone in recovery from one of the worst habits one could possibly have, drug and alcohol addiction, I can always be the first to admit that even once we get sober there are still plenty of bad habits to choose from, and there are plenty of everyday people who have some of these same bad habits without the prerequisite of a severe substance abuse issue.
Bad habits are not exclusive to anyone, we all have some pattern we run in our lives once in a while or chronically that just seems gross, annoying or even dangerous, but the truth is there are always two sides to every story. Some of the bad habits are actually good for you, to some extent.
- Chewing gum
This is definitely one I can relate to, and I’ve heard more than once that watching someone chew gum is not a pretty sight. However, there are those that advocate that chewing gum is a stress relieving activity with apparent cognitive benefits.
In the book Senescence and Senescence-Related Disorders, Kin-ya Kubo and colleagues noted that chewing gum immediately before performing a cognitive task improves task performance because chewing gum actually increases blood oxygen levels in the prefrontal cortex and hippocampus. This is an area of essential brain structures involved in learning and memory.
- Another study by a research team lead by Yoshiyuki Hirano indicated:
- Chewing gum boosts thinking and alertness
- Reaction times among chewers were 10% faster than for non-chewers
- Up to 8 areas of the brain are affected by chewing, particularly areas concerning attention and movement
Those little leg shakes or quirky foot tapping movements we call fidgeting might be annoying to people around you, or even you when they seem to go on all by themselves, but fidgeting actually expends energy and burns calories.
Fidgeting is one activity that falls into a category known as non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT). A number of studies carried out by obesity expert James Levine at the Mayo Clinic have shown that fidgeting speeds up an individual’s metabolism by stimulating neurochemicals in the body, thus increasing the ability to convert body fat into energy, so individuals who fidget burn up about 350 kcal a day!
Most people (namely your parents) still consider that swearing (cursing/cussing) is a bad habit, even though now it is a lot more common than a few decades ago. Now while it can be associated with being rude or even downright disrespectful, research has shown that using bad words may be the cheapest painkiller on the &$%#! market!
Richard Stephens of Keele University (UK) recently pioneered and published a cuss-worthy study in Neuroreport. The results of the experiments by Stephens and his team compared individuals who swore to individuals that didn’t, and displayed the former could endure the pain of putting their hand in a bucket of ice-cold water nearly 50% longer than the latter.
- Almost 2 minutes for those that swore
- 1 minute 15 seconds for those that said a neutral, non-swear word instead
The researchers speculated that swearing might trigger our natural “fight-or-flight” response by downplaying a weakness or threat in order to deal with it, but the stipulation is that swearing may only be effective in helping reduce pain if it is a casual habit, with the researcher warning that swearing is emotional language but if individuals overuse it, it loses its emotional attachment, and is less likely to help alleviate pain.
I was the most happy to read this one, since I basically live in a perpetual state of daydream. Creative types can be like that, there’s not much else to it. Sometimes daydreaming can occupy up to 1/3 of our waking lives, it can become nightmarish and evolve into anxiety, and generally is often viewed as a sign of laziness or inattentiveness.
So when I saw something that said the “executive network” in our brain is highly active when we are daydream, I knew there was a reason why I stayed stuck in my imagination most days.
A study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences was conducted by Kalina Christoff established the presence of rigorous activity in numerous brain regions while daydreaming, including areas associated with complex problem solving, to the point where these regions were even more active during a daydream than during routine tasks.
What is possible is that when we use conscious thought our thinking becomes too rigid and limited, so daydreaming is an important cognitive state in which we can navigate our attention from immediate tasks to unconsciously think about problems in their lives.
Eric Klinger of the University of Minnesota also supported the amazing positive attributes of the daydream, asserting it also serves an evolutionary purpose by triggering reminders of additional concurrent objectives when we are doing something else so that we do not lose sight of them, like it opens a little memory or hope to remind us why we are moving forward.
Sure, the present is where beauty often lives, but that doesn’t mean that the beauty in our deepest daydreams is any less real or necessary.
Some of the things we do the world tells us are irritating impulses or harmful habits, but in reality some of these things are the things that keep us growing and evolving, or serene and grounded. Feel free to fidget and embrace those twitches and subconscious tactics once in a while… I’ll be here daydreaming.
Habits haven’t yet “hijacked” the brain circuits that play a part in addiction, such as memories, emotions, and impaired decision-making; all of which are not yet intricately linked to the substance or the behavior as they are with a full-blown addiction. If you or someone you love is struggling from a habit that has become a dangerous or deadly addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135