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
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Author: Justin Mckibben
“The first year is a gift.”
That’s what they kept telling me when I first came to the rooms of recovery. When I first got to treatment and heard people who had been through the process, when I went to 12 step meetings and listened to speakers tell their experience, it was that same tag-line it seemed every time… “The first year is a gift.”
To me that seemed strange. How?!
I felt in my mind I was going to have to fight just for 30 days… even 3 days or 3 hours was insanity for me without the drugs and the alcohol numbing me to my own obsessive and inexorable emotional immaturity. So 365 days of consecutive sobriety?! Sounded more like a nightmare, disguised as an urban legend and gift-wrapped in a paradox.
But it happened. That miracle did come one amazing day at a time, and before I knew it I had a coin in my hand that told me it all wasn’t just a practical joke or a “pink cloud”. I had actually survived myself for 1 year without a drink or a drug, and thinking back it didn’t make sense how much a gift the first year was until it was over.
I presumed it was going to be desolation and abjection trying to change, and at times it was not easy, but if I’m honest with myself the action suggested of me was not even hard!
Read, make lists, talk about stuff, make more lists, evaluate my defaults and habits, talk some more, etc. This stuff was not a collage or a science project… it was simple stuff. And through that process, and through reviewing my work with new understanding I realized one of the most important things recovery ever taught me:
Life is Not All about Me
I’m the weird brand of narcissist with an inferiority complex, but deep down, in that pit of self-loathing and fear I still wanted to believe I was the center of the universe. I lived a life fundamentally selfish and self-seeking. I just disguised it well with false compassion and empty connections. I made everything about me, whether to feel better about not liking myself, or to manipulate the world into giving me what I wanted.
I got a sponsor, and when I complained one of his favorite pieces of advice was to shut-up, and do something for someone else. Help someone. To step outside of myself, and try to impact another life in a positive way, however I could.
In the steps there were things I had to do that were essential to realizing life isn’t about me.
Looking at yourself through the honest reflection of your misdeeds can truly open you up to how much ‘not about me’ life really is. Taking an inventory on my actions showed me the hurt I created, and the truth behind why I did the things I did.
More often than not, it was selfishness, being inconsiderate, and fear.
This stuff helped me out in the end, but it was proven that my serenity and my happiness were real and authentic when it wasn’t just about that ME mentality anymore.
My sobriety came with understanding that I had done so much to those people who loved me the most. I had destroyed others, and I had hurt people, and I was still trying to focus on my own petty wants and resentments even in early sobriety.
Amends and similar actions showed me some much needed humility, and taught me what I now believe- humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking or yourself less.
Taking responsibility and owning up to the damage I did to others made it possible to identify with and avoid it in the future.
Freedom came when I put faith in what was put in front of me, and a lot of that had to do with the opportunity to connect with others, by being honest, open and vulnerable. In friendships and in dating relationships.
The fellowship taught me how to learn through others, and how to truly relate to and appreciate those around me. I learned in my first year that there are so many people who want that chance, to be free from their addictions and to make honest and fulfilling relationships with people they can really care about.
In the first year of sobriety I learned my relationships mean more than what I gain from others. They mean what I put in for others, and what we accomplish together. They also mean knowing when to set boundaries that are healthy, and how to check my motives before I do things I have no business doing.
Those relationships I have are what they are because doing the work in the first year showed me that my ego and my will-power don’t make me a better friend, or a better brother or son. Actually caring about my friends and family, and taking the action is what does that.
It’s a Selfless Program
In the first 365 days of sobriety I learned that continuous action to serve and have an affirmative impact on others is the key to my sanity. The insanity of active addiction and alcoholism was the stuff of nightmares, and the isolated world of ME was killing me. You can do some things for you, but it was freed from the bondage of self by learning to live with consideration and respect for others. It is not about being selfish, but trying to strive to be selfless.
I don’t always do this perfectly. I still have an ego, negative or otherwise, but at least my first year showed me how to be aware of it. The gift of desperation showed me that I was in need of saving, the gift of opportunity to take action put me in a position to give, and the gift of giving has never been so imperative to my peace of mind.
That’s 8,760 hours…
I need to give away as much of it as I can to helping someone else if I believe in making it to another 365.
While our lives should consist of the things we are passionate about, the things that we love and the people who love us, we are not the only ones in life that matter. One thing I learned in my first year sober is that it is not always up to me, and at the end of the day it’s not supposed to be. Sobriety saved me from myself when the drugs and alcohol that took the meaning from life, and that all started at Palm Partners. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135. We want to help. You are not alone.
By Cheryl Steinberg
Whether you want to admit it or not, when you’re in a fellowship meeting, your mind wanders. Here are 14 thoughts you have in a meeting.
#1. “I don’t really feel like being here. Why did I come?”
You’ve been at work all day or else it’s a Saturday morning meeting and you. Just. Want. To. Sleep. In.
#2. “I could be watching Netflix right now”
Binge watching your favorite shows is always an option.
#3. “Omg, my ex is here.”
You thought they stopped going to this meeting. Why are they here? Just to ruin your experience probably.
#4. “What are they wearing?!”
For some, meetings have become a veritable fashion show. I don’t think that’s what they’re meant for.
#5. “Ugh, reading the literature takes so long.”
It’s like, we’ve heard this all before. I know, I know…traditions.
#6. “Why is it that people who can’t read always want to read?”
It’s like being back in elementary school, having to listen to someone stumble though the reading. Most likely, it’s a case of stage fright. Go easy on ‘em.
#7. “Yes! A speaker meeting.”
Or maybe you prefer a literature meeting. But, inevitably, you’ll run into thoughts like #6 above.
#8. “Omg, they’re telling my story!”
This is always a good feeling. Many would say, it’s a “God moment” for them.
#9. “I’m so bored right now.”
It happens. Doesn’t mean that you’re a bad person.
#10. “Did anyone see me fall asleep?”
It happens to the best of us. It’s been a long day at work, or perhaps it’s an early morning meeting (early for a Saturday, that is) and you start nodding off. Not nodding out.
#11. “No double-dipping, bro.”
It’s an unspoken rule – and in some meetings, it is said – that you don’t get to share twice. Stop being selfish.
#12. “I love when So-and-so shares, they always have such good stuff to say.”
You know, they present the problem but always talk more about the solution rather than complaining.
#13. “Two minutes left to share…of course Such-and-such wants to share. They always talk forever.”
The time for sharing has ended but, there they are, rambling on, as per usual.
#14. “I’m really glad I came even though I didn’t feel like it at first.”
Most people say they always hear something in a meeting that they needed to hear at that point in their life so, keep coming back.
If you’ve ever been to a 12 step meeting, then you probably can identify with at least some of these. Maybe meetings aren’t your jam. Maybe you’re just coming back and looking for help with building a program of recovery. There are many different ways to recover and everyone is on their own journey. At Palm Partners, we offer different healing and recovery techniques and tools to help you get better and get back to living the life you deserve. Please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135 today.
Author: Justin Mckibben
Sobriety is about so much more than being able to stop drinking or using drugs. That is because addiction to drugs and alcohol itself is about so much more than the substances, and has a lot to do with the way we live our lives and perceive our world. Sobriety means knowing how to live beyond drugs and alcohol, and delves into what we contribute to life and how we grow and evolve with the world around us.
The truth is things happen in recovery. I insist on a regular basis that every day is not my favorite day by far. Life is not meant to be perfect when we become clean and sober, and it does not mean that things will not happen to us. What is DOES mean is that we have an opportunity to create coping skills in recovery to get us through those darker days and keep our perspective in check. Here are probably the 4 most important coping skills to learn in recovery.
Probably one of my favorite and most important coping skills is meditation. The reason I put so much stock in meditation is because not only is it something that is meant to integrate your mind, body, and soul to align and evolve in harmony by becoming open and present, it is also something that can be done at anytime, anywhere one so many levels.
Many people practice meditation in different ways. Truthfully there is no exact right or wrong way to meditate. It can be done during a walk, in a traditional seated pose, or even in the middle of an activity as long as the focus is put in the right place. They say the quality of a meditation is not in the time spent doing it, but in the amount of awareness to it. One minute of meditation is as good as one hour of meditation if it is experienced to the fullest potential of the present moment.
This practice is so helpful in recovery because it creates a calm and nurturing state from which an individual going through a situation or experiencing some feeling can separate from the negativity and allow themselves to find peace, and reassess their invested energy and perception.
Some people thrive on keeping a chronicle of their feelings and their lives. They feel most at ease when they are in the act of translating an emotion or a circumstance onto a piece of paper in their own words. For some of us writing makes it easier to express the feeling we are looking to understand and address because we identify it with our language in order to articulate it.
Keeping a journal, or writing letters or lists even can be a very constructive coping skill to learn in recovery for so many reasons. For one, in early recovery especially our memory is not in the best shape, so making a documented history of what has happened or what we are dealing with will help us to reconnect with what is going on later.
Another reason writing is so powerful is because it is a release of that energy. In a way writing is its own form of meditation, with a little bit of a creative edge. It helps us to examine what is going on, what we are going through, and gives us a moment to look at the words and see those feelings as tangible but not impossible to overcome.
- Sharing and Learning
Putting yourself in a position to share your experiences, you strengths and your weaknesses, gives you the ability to emphasize and maybe even revitalize your self-awareness, your hope and even the hope of others. In recovery when we open up honestly to others, and we express ourselves, especially to people who have been clean and sober and have seen and done much of what we have done or will do, we better equip ourselves by learning from them.
To share about a difficult feeling or situation openly and honestly without fear is an excellent coping skill, because it may very well remove a lot of the sting from the initial bite of the situation. And you may even surprise yourself by learning that other people have experienced or are currently dealing with the same problems.
The best way to cope when sharing and learning is to apply these new lessons or examples to the issues you face now, and know that there is always an opportunity for improvement. Sharing itself becomes an empowering form of contribution, and it gives us space to breathe once a burden of bad vibes has been lifted.
Contribution to others is probably one of the greatest things we as people in recovery have a chance at experiencing. As alcoholics and addicts actively using and drinking, we tend to hurt a lot of people. I know I personally did, and we take and take and take from the world and those who love us in order to keep getting what we want. We may even work hard, but we still take more than we give.
Giving back, providing service to others is incredible as a coping mechanism because during a situation that feels hopeless, we typically are focused on ourselves and what WE expect out of everything and why we are not getting it. With contribution, we also find humility and compassion.
Being selfish and ego-driven is more self-destructive in times of turmoil or despair because we are just magnifying the pain and not trying to step outside our expectations and allow perception to show us the true nature of the problem; us. So by helping others we can feel more useful, more appreciative of our gifts and our lives, and gain some happiness and serenity by helping others to find it as well.
“Every breath we take, every step we make, can be filled with peace, joy and serenity.”
-Thich Nhat Hanh-
Recovery gives addicts and alcoholics an opportunity to change not just the way we treat ourselves and others, recovery gives us a new perspective on life and equips us with the tools and the wisdom to appreciate and communicate our perspective in new and more fulfilling ways. Learning new coping skills allows us to face any issue put in front of us with faith and conviction, if we apply ourselves to these important techniques. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135
By Cheryl Steinberg
I am a person in long term recovery from drug addiction. And I experience depression. It didn’t go away when I got clean. It got better but, it’s still there. For some of us, that’s the reality of our situation; we have a long-term mood disorder. In my case, my depression set in long before I ever picked up alcohol and drugs. When I finally did start using, substances were the perfect solution to my need to self-medicate.
Today, I see a therapist and take my prescribed antidepressant medications. These things support me in my recovery from both addiction and depression. The thing is, just as there are a lot of people out there who still don’t understand addiction, there are people who really just don’t get it when it comes to depression. And it can be really annoying. Here are 11 things everyone gets wrong about depression.
#1. You can just snap out of it
Having depression is not a choice. It is a chronic medical condition that results from genetic and environmental factors. People don’t decide one day to be depressed. People do choose, however, to cope and live with their depression.
#2. There’s a reason or circumstance for it
First of all, there are two kinds of depression, situational and chronic (dysthymia). Situational is short term and – yes – tends to be brought on by circumstance such as loss of a loved one or job.
With chronic depression, which is long term, there is no reason, other than an actual physiological chemical imbalance in the brain that is probably due to genetics. Someone with depression experiences peaks and valleys with their moods, which can happen for no external reason at all.
#3. Pointing out that others have it worse will help us cheer up
Don’t. Just don’t. Ever. Do. This. Don’t you think that we already feel guilty for being depressed when others have it so much worse than we do? Again, depression isn’t a choice. I don’t know how much more I can emphasize that. Therefore, trying to give us logical reasons to not be depressed not only is futile, it’s hurtful.
#4. People with depression “look” depressed all the time
What do you expect? That we walk around looking like Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh all the time? Just because we have depression doesn’t mean we don’t experience a full range of emotions. It’s just that our “default” is ‘depressed.’ Also, probably because we’ve been told for the better part of our lives to put on a happy face, make sure to hide how we’re truly feeling so as not to bring down the crowd or get unwanted pity-attention.
#5. We have phantom physical pain, that is, we’re hypochondriacs
Physical symptoms are common in depression, and, in fact, vague aches and pain are often the presenting symptoms of depression. These symptoms include chronic joint pain, limb pain, back pain, gastrointestinal problems, tiredness, sleep disturbances, and appetite changes.
But it’s not merely psychosomatic. Physical pain and depression have a deeper biological connection. The neurotransmitters that influence both pain and mood – serotonin and norepinephrine – are out of whack, we see both depression and pain. Many physicians consider patients to be in remission from their depression when their mood improves, but when the physical symptoms, such as pain, are still present, there is an increased likelihood for relapse of the mood disorder.
#6. You know how it feels ‘cause you’ve had a ‘bad day’ before
Empathizing is one thing but, remember, depression is much more than having a bad day or being in a bad mood. It is a pervasive mood disorder that underlies daily life for the person who suffers with depression.
#7. We’re just selfish people
Actually, people with depression are probably of the most thoughtful people around, to a fault. We often are preoccupied with others’ feelings because, as people with depression, we tend to be hypersensitive to the energy that others put off. And, on top of that, we are aware that our depression can affect those around us and thus we worry about bringing them down.
All of that combined with just how tough we are on ourselves, in general, and about having depression, specifically, really don’t make the case for selfishness. Plus, remember that depression isn’t a choice.
#8. People with depression are just weak
Having depression is like walking around with a lead suit on – at all times. It means pushing through the low energy, physical pain, mental anguish, and the constant inner voice telling us, “You can’t.” So, I’m pretty sure people with depression are actually pretty tough people. Also, again, I’d like to point out that depression isn’t a choice and, like addiction, it is a non-discriminating disease. Therefore, it doesn’t only target one type of person.
#9. People with depression are seriously pessimistic
On the contrary, studies show that depressed people have an unusually realistic worldview. This can be a real mind f*ck for us because our capacity for logic allows us to more easily rationalize our depressive thinking, such as “I’m a bad person,” as an indisputable fact.
#10. We can ‘fake it till we make it’
Although there is some science behind this – where you can turn around having a bad day by changing your mindset, again it’s important to remember that depression is a totally different beast when it comes to ‘bad days.’
#11. Depression causes mental fog
According to Buddhist thought, depression is actually an “extraordinarily interesting and a highly intelligent state of being.”
“Depression is an unsatisfied state of mind in which you feel that you have no outlet…Whatever is in it is extraordinarily powerful. It has all kinds of answers in it, but the answers are hidden. So, in fact…depression is one of the most powerful of all energies. It is extraordinarily awake energy, although you might feel sleepy.”
Another way to look at depression, especially from a spiritual standpoint is that it is a state of emptiness, a sort of doorway, to meditation. With depression there is the feeling that nothing is happening at all. And that can be most conducive to meditation, in which one sits in quiet, inner awareness.
Both depression and addiction are serious medical conditions that require medical interventions and treatment. Many people struggle with both. The good news is that you’re not alone and that help is available. Call us toll-free at 1-800-951-6135 to speak directly with an Addiction Specialist before it’s too late. We are here 24/7.