Why “Practice Makes Perfect”

Posted on September 22, 2015

PracticeOften, the process of making lasting change requires trying new and unfamiliar things. Maybe it’s walking to work a different way so you can avoid a tempting or triggering location. Maybe it’s practicing new coping skills in the face of an old problem. Maybe it’s reaching out to other people when you normally would go it alone.

Deliberately practicing new behavior has three effects: 1) you get better at doing it, which increases the odds that you will be successful at it when it matters,  2) you start to replace the old habits with new ones, and 3) you develop the habit of replacing old habits!

Continue reading

When a Loved One is Addicted

Posted on September 17, 2015

How Family & Friends Can Help
Practical Recovery

Help AlcholicCan people get addicted to alcohol? Yes. But as a spouse, you can help your husband cut back on his drinking. In fact, the suggestions outlined below could be used to help anyone stop or cut back on…

ANY addictive behavior!

But to keep it simple, we will talk about how to help your husband stop drinking.

When will my husband stop drinking?

Generally, drinking stops when your husband realizes that the costs of drinking exceed the benefits. You could wait until the costs are very large, so that he can realize the problem more easily. However, by that point his thinking may not be very clear, and he (and you) will have paid a substantial price, possibly to include problems (such as health problems) that will endure. So it is better to stop drinking sooner rather than later.

How can I help my husband get sober?

In this approach you are looking to build the “landing place” before you ask him to “jump.” Many heavy drinkers are reluctant to quit drinking because Continue reading

USA and UOA: Unconditional Self-Acceptance and Unconditional Other Acceptance

Posted on September 8, 2015

by Jonathan von Breton, CCMHC

“The greatest sickness known to man or woman is called self-esteem. If you have self-esteem, then you’re sick, sick, sick, because you say: I’m okay because I do well and because people love me, so when I do poorly, which I’m a fallible human and will, and people hate me because they may jealously hate me or they just don’t like me, then back to shithood I go.”

Albert Ellis, Ph.D.

 wearenotThis is number 1 of the 3 basic “musts” that cause human disturbance:

 “I absolutely must perform well on important projects and be approved by significant people or else I am an inadequate and unlovable person!” (Leads to) Feelings of serious depression, anxiety, panic, self-downing. ..… Personally, you can’t always succeed not to mention succeed perfectly. Being a fallible human, you just can’t.”     Albert Ellis

Yes, rating one’s behavior as opposed to one’s self is much easier said than done. Yes, our society strongly encourages the opposite. In fact, our society has a vested interest in doing so. I still have a hard time with it myself and I’ve had years of practice.

In general, I find it helpful to rate my behaviors as:

Successful, they help me get what I want and avoid what I don’t want.
Unsuccessful, they fail to help me get what I want and avoid what I don’t want.

Effective or Ineffective. This is another way of saying successful/unsuccessful.

Consistent with my goals, values, ethics, beliefs.
Inconsistent, counter to, my goals, values, ethics, beliefs.

However, those are all behaviors. They aren’t my ‘self’ (whatever that is).  The behaviors can be measured and rated, at least to a certain degree. The self can’t even be defined, let alone rated. Continue reading

Are You Leaving? Or Are You Going?

Posted on August 31, 2015

Making Something Important

by Hank Robb, Ph.D., ABPP

A person was walking down a street and saw two women sitting with wool yarn and knitting needles. Curious, our observer asked, “What are you doing?”

The first said, “I’m making one stitch after another.”

The second answered, “I’m keeping my child safe and warm from the winter wind.”

Which of these two would you rather be?

Building and maintaining motivation is the first point in SMART Recovery’s 4-Point Program®. Changing your behavior isn’t very likely to happen unless there’s a point to doing so which is the last point in SMART Recovery: building a balanced life. “Giving up something” isn’t much to build a life around. It’s just one stitch after another. As the psychologist Ogden Lindsey once noted, no goal a dead person can accomplish is that great a goal for a living one. Dead people never drink, snort, shoot up or place a bet. “Not doing” is something all dead people “do” quite well. Continue reading

“Mindfulness” and SMART Recovery

Posted on August 25, 2015

Shoreline I started practicing meditation about 10 years ago, at the Shambhala Center in Chicago.  (Shambhala is an international organization founded by Chogyam Trungpa, a Tibetan Buddhist – see shambhala.org).  I was in early recovery from alcohol, and I decided I wanted to learn how to meditate.  It just seemed like a good idea at the time.  I’d been told I could show up on a Sunday morning at the Center and ask for someone to show me how, so that’s what I did.  After  about 15 minutes of instruction, I joined the others who meditate together there on Sunday mornings.  Eventually I went on to take some meditation trainings and started reading stuff (anything by Pema Chodron).

I now meditate with a group about once a week and at home daily (more or less; these habits took some effort to instill, and there has been a bit of on-again / off-again over the years).  The results show up in daily life as an increasing capacity for clarity and calmness, and for seeing more possibilities in difficult situations.  Oh, and things like moments of joy and appreciation. Continue reading