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
(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
Selfishness, self-centeredness… these issues have become a commonality in our culture. The alcoholic or addict in recovery probably has had some time to reflect and discuss the presence of selfishness in their lives, and in most 12 Step fellowships of recovery we are told selfishness is often the common factor of our troubles. Entire books have been dedicated in the past decade to narcissism and self-serving, while we live in the “selfie” society that puts so much emphasis on the individual.
When we have to deal with selfish people on a constant basis it can make our lives miserable. When we are told we are selfish, it can seem hurtful and unfair, but a lot of times we can often see where we have been self-involved or focused on ourselves. First, let us look at the meaning of being selfish.
(A person, action, or motive) lacking consideration for others; concerned chiefly with one’s own personal profit or pleasure.
So when we consider that being selfish means neglecting the needs of others in order to serve one’s self, maybe we can take a second look at selfishness to try and understand the aspects of being selfish, and find out how we can turn selfishness into self-awareness.
Now when I say to show empathy, I do not mean you are required to accept someone’s selfishness and allow it to negatively impact your life. The intention here is to try and understand the mindset from which this person is acting from because that empathy can make your response more effective.
Sometimes people are acting selfishly out of a sense of necessity, thinking that the best they can do to take care of themselves is to focus on themselves and not put so much effort into other people. In recovery sometimes we are told it is a selfish program. While I may disagree with that personally, I do understand that in a life-or-death situation like addiction or alcoholism sometimes the best we have in the beginning is self-preservation.
Empathy allows us to better appreciate why someone is acting selfishly, so that we can better address it when that selfishness has an effect on our lives. Having empathy means having self-awareness too, and connecting to someone else to see where selfish actions come from on both sides.
We all know what happens when we assume… yes that old cliché. If you don’t know, we’ll tell you when you’re older.
Anyway, the point is that when we make assumptions they are frequently incorrect or set up unfair expectations. Again, with empathy we have to try and give someone who is being selfish the room to explain what they are dealing with and try to see it from their perspective instead of making up our own meaning for why they are acting the way they are. Don’t assume you know someone’s motives without at least having a conversation. Being self-aware of your assumptions can make a big difference.
Sometimes people make selfish choices out of the need to be loved or to give love. Sometimes they want to bond more with others, or sometimes they want to protect themselves from others. Sometimes selfishness comes from desire to be ambitious. There is nothing wrong with some of these selfish motives, as long as we can recognize them for what they are.
One thing we can also conclude from a few of these factors is that selfishness can be healthy because it reminds us to take care of ourselves, and believe it or not healthy selfishness can actually make it possible for us to take care of others. Even selfless acts are not always purely selfless because they make us feel good. Doing something for someone else can make us experience a feeling of joy, accomplishment and even self-worth– and aren’t those just a little selfish themselves?
That doesn’t mean it is wrong.
In 12 Step fellowships we are often told that nothing will ensure lasting recovery as much as intensive work with others who struggle. So if this is the case, we are actively encouraged to do for others as selflessly as we can as a means to keep ourselves on track. It is kind of a paradox- seeking to do for others with no thought of yourself, because in the end it will benefit you to not be selfish… weird right? Mind blown.
Even though selfishness can hinder our growth and keep us stuck in our contempt or our troubles, it is important to take a second look at where that selfishness comes from and how it is poised to impact other people. Whether it is our own selfishness or the selfishness of others, we should always try and see to what end that selfishness aims toward or what mindset it stems from in order to meet it with appropriate action.
Understanding our characteristics and the patterns we run is part of developing healthier coping mechanisms in recovery. Not every one of our impulses is as easy to overcome, but when fighting addiction the more we know about ourselves, the better we can grow. For those who need a foundation for recovery, help is here. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135
The drugs and alcohol are out of your system. You are feeling bright-eyed and bushy-tailed after a long and hard binge and detox process. Your libido is back. Your priority needs to be on staying sober. The last thing you want is the added stress of a new relationship.
Another reason for why people are advised to avoid relationships in the first year of recovery is that they need to get to know themselves better before they choose a partner. You may try to use romance as a replacement for alcohol or drugs. All you will be doing is substituting one addiction with another. Until you have managed to build a strong recovery, you will be vulnerable in a new relationship.
How to Navigate Romantic Relationships in Recovery
People in sobriety can find romantic relationships to be their hardest challenge. Some may have abused alcohol and drugs in the beginning because they lacked the confidence to meet new people. When you become sober, you may once again struggle with shyness.
These are some effective ways for people to navigate romantic relationships in recovery:
Although it isn’t explicitly written, many people in recovery and professionals in the addictions field say it is best to completely avoid new romantic relationships for at least the first year of recovery.
Get a Plant
Old timers in AA offer the following steps that people should take before beginning a romance in recovery. First they should buy a plant and take care of this. If the plant is still flourishing after one year then they should buy a pet. If after two years the plant and the pet are doing well only then should people feel ready for a romantic relationship.
Get to Know Yourself
In order for people to be happy in their relationships, they first need to be happy with themselves. Find out what interests you have such as hobbies, leisure activities, sports, etc. Get out and play. Meet sober friends.
Beware of Thirteen Steppers
Thirteenth stepping refers to a situation where an experienced AA or NA member begins a sexual relationship with a newcomer. Being newly sober, you are vulnerable. You will rely on the other members of the fellowship to help you find your feet in sobriety. Unfortunately, there are people who will try to take advantage of such vulnerability to satisfy their own sexual desires.
Be Aware of Codependency
Many alcoholics and addicts are also codependent in their relationships. This means that you put more effort into the relationship than the other person does, that you always put their needs before your own, and that you would rather stay in the relationship even if you are unhappy because you are afraid to be alone. Look out for this in others, too.
Talk to Your Sponsor
Dealing with romantic relationships in recovery is probably the most stressful challenge you will face in sobriety. Your sponsor is someone you can trust and, in fact, have trusted with guiding you through the Steps (especially think of Steps 4 and 5) so they know you pretty well. Your sponsor is a sounding board and a source for advice.
Remember: During the early years of recovery, sobriety should be your first priority. If a relationship threatens your recovery then you may need to walk away.