Category Archives: Managing Thoughts

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

“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  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

Am I Powerless or Powerful?

Posted on August 17, 2015

by Jean Greer McCarthy

Jean Greer McCarthy is a blogger, podcast host and recovery advocate from Alberta, Canada. She is the author of, a regular contributor to, and co-host of The Bubble Hour podcast.The concept of powerlessness was perplexing as I contemplated life without alcohol. I was in the awful back and forth of failed attempts, beginning each morning with a vow that “this would be the day” and deciding firmly in late afternoon that due to circumstances x, y or z, it was essential to continue drinking.

The online evaluations I frequented assured me that my drinking pattern was problematic, yet the only solution I knew of seemed to disqualify me with it’s first “step” of declaring powerlessness. I felt there was still a glimmer of empowerment in the decision I made each day, even though it was a decision to drink. Continue reading

Point 3: Managing Thoughts, Feelings and Behaviors

Posted on August 10, 2015

By Elspeth

I recI Am a Work in Progress ently heard an interview with a man who’d quit drinking four years earlier after decades of heavy drinking. “So basically I’m now an emotional 17-year-old, since I started drinking when I was 13.” This feeling of emotional immaturity rings true for many people who have given up addictions. When I quit drinking, I didn’t feel like an adolescent—I’d been successful in many areas of my life even while knocking back too much wine—but neither did I feel quite like a grown-up no matter what my birth certificate or my mirror claimed. Continue reading

On Anxiety

Posted on August 3, 2015

Dr. Bill Knaus: On Anxiety

Saturday, August 15, 5:00PM EDT

Presented by Dr. Bill Knaus

Dr. William J. Knaus, Ed.D. will be joining us on August 15, 2015 at 5:00 PM EDT for a new SMART Special Event Webinar: On Anxiety.

Dr. Knaus is the foremost authority in the field of overcoming procrastination, but he is also renowned for his work in practical application of rational emotive behavior therapy (REBT) and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) for anxiety and has written extensively on the subject, most recently in his newest revision of: The Cognitive Behavioral Workbook for Anxiety: A Step-By-Step Program (2014).

Many of those recovering from substance abuse or other addictive disorders experience anxiety and panic. These “are intense emotions, and in the moments that you experience them it may seem like you are powerless, but nothing could be further from the truth.” Dr. Knaus will discuss practical ways to lessen anxiety and continue to build a strong, satisfying life. To paraphrase Joel Block, Ph.D., If getting a better handle on emotions, giving up perfectionism, and defeating social anxiety are your goals, you will hear Bill speaking directly to you. Dr. Knaus will also share a few insights on how to use procrastination technology to reduce anxiety and substance abuse simultaneously.
Continue reading

A Not So Perfect High

Posted on July 20, 2015

[first posted December 31, 2013]

Playing the tape to the end
Listen to the audio version

Questor7I’m walking down the same street I’ve walked down hundreds of times before. Nothing’s changed. It’s the same street. Same stores. Same liquor store, one that has never interested me before because it’s filled with things I can’t have, or rather, let’s say, things I choose not to have. But something is different this time. This time, I really notice the liquor store. This time, I hear a scotch bottle whispering my name.

Well, then, “beam me up, Scotty.”

I see myself walking into the store, picking up a couple of bottles of scotch and two bottles of wine, paying for them and walking back out onto the street. I have been feeling kind of down lately, maybe bored, frustrated, but nothing new has happened that has thrown my life into a tailspin. I’ve just suddenly fallen into a trance and decided to get drunk.

I go home and take out my favorite scotch glass and fill it to the brim. I make a toast to the ether and take a small taste. Continue reading