Category Archives: Managing Thoughts

Powerless? Or PowerFUL? The Choice is Yours!

Posted on July 25, 2017

Challenges of Addiction Recovery
by: Hank Robb, PhD, ABPP

Though unpleasant feelings come and go
You’re always around to run the show!

Everybody has a voice inside his or her head that sometimes says, “How about doing something stupid?” The “stupid thing” varies from time to time, person to person, and place to place, but that voice is always “just around the corner.” You’re not “powerless” you’re just a living human being with the problem faced by all living human beings: that voice that says, “How about doing something stupid?”

“Getting SMART” means learning to recognize that voice and then refusing to go along with it. Because the bad results from the following the “stupid voice” don’t show up right away, staying “SMART” means keeping your eyes on the prize and moving toward what’s really important to you.

You never lose control of your hands, arms, feet, and mouth (unless you have a stroke or a seizure) — that ‘blah, blah, blah’ inside your head can’t make you do anything. You’re in control of you, even if you are not in control of that ‘blah, blah, blah’. You can always refuse to go along with that sometimes oh, so tempting, stupid voice inside your noggin.

When you do refuse, you may have some unpleasant feelings for awhile. Just remember:

Though unpleasant feelings come and go
You’re always around to run the show!

 


 

About the author: Hank Robb received his Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln in 1978. He served as Director of Counseling and Associate Professor of Psychology at Lewis Clark State College, Lewiston, Idaho between 1978 and 1986. During this time, he also served as President of the Idaho Psychological Association, and Chair of the Idaho Board of Psychologist Examiners, the state psychology licensing board. Dr. Robb moved to Lake Oswego, Oregon in 1986  In addition to his private psychology practice, Dr. Robb has published over thirty professional articles and book chapters on a wide variety of psychological issues and delivered scores of papers, presentations and workshops at state, national and international meetings. He is an Associate Fellow and Supervisor of the Albert Ellis Institute and a Peer Reviewed Trainer for Acceptance & Commitment Therapy as well as a Fellow of the Association for Contextual Behavioral Science.

Dr. Robb is board certified in both Counseling Psychology and Cognitive & Behavioral Psychology by the American Board of Professional Psychology, and a Past-President of the American Board of Counseling Psychology. Additionally, he holds a Certificate of Proficiency in the Treatment of Alcohol and Other Psychoactive Substance Use Disorders from the American Psychological Association’s College of Professional Psychology. He also served eight years as Chair of The Association for the Advancement of Behavior Therapy’s Religious and Spiritual Issues Special Interest Group and is certified as a Humanist Celebrant by the Humanist Society.
Dr. Robb is a founding board member of SMART Recovery. He has written a column for the SMART Recovery quarterly newsletter News & Views from almost the time the newsletter was established. He returned to the board in 2015 has chaired ad hoc committees since his return. Continue reading

SMART Recovery tools to help with acceptance

Posted on July 5, 2017

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

Recovery Advocacy is Not a Recovery Program

Posted on June 20, 2017

Words of wisdom for those in the New Recovery Advocacy Movement
Guest Blogger: William L. White

Of all the experiences I have had as a recovery advocate, none have been more heart-rending than receiving news that a person prominently involved in recovery advocacy efforts has died of a drug overdose. It reminds me once again that personal health and recovery are the foundation of all larger efforts to educate, advocate, and counsel within the alcohol and other drug problems arena.

This is not a new lesson. Consider, for example, the following stories. John Gough got sober in the Washingtonian revival of the early 1840s, but relapsed three times in the early period of his long career as America’s most charismatic temperance reformer. The lawyer Edward Uniac always stated that he was more vulnerable to the call of alcohol during extended periods of rest than when he was moving from town to town giving his temperance lectures. But Uniac suffered repeated drinking episodes and died in 1869 of an overdose of whiskey and opium while on a temperance lecture tour in Massachusetts. Luther Benson tried to use his own personal struggles with alcohol in the temperance lectures he gave across the country. His tales of continued binge drinking while on the lecture circuit were penned while he was residing in the Indiana Asylum for the Insane. His 1896 autobiography was entitled, Fifteen Years in Hell. Benson truly believed that throwing himself into temperance work could quell his own appetite for alcohol. In retrospect, he was forced to admit the following:

“I learned too late that this was the very worst thing I could have done. I was all the time expending the very strength I so much needed for the restoration of my shattered system.”

The stories of Gough, Uniac, and Benson are not unique. Similar tales were told by others who sought to cure themselves on the temperance lecture circuit. However, recovering people did achieve and maintain stable recovery working in the 19th century temperance movement and within treatment institutions of that era. An important lesson emerged out of the 19th century recovery movements: service activity, by itself, does not constitute a solid program for continued sobriety. This lesson was relearned throughout the 20th century, particularly within the modern rise of addiction counseling as a distinct profession.

A New Recovery Advocacy Movement is spreading across America and beyond, Continue reading

How To Dispute Difficult Thoughts

Posted on June 6, 2017

by Kimberly Winters, SMART Recovery Volunteer Meeting Facilitator

Do you sometimes experience difficult thoughts and emotions…the kind that lead to unwanted behaviors?

Emotional upsets can wreak havoc with addiction recovery. SMART Recovery offers tools for disputing difficult thoughts, by examining those thoughts to see if they are true, helpful, hopeful, flexible and nurturing!

Did you know that having a tangible object for each of those questions can be helpful?  Below are some suggestions for items to help with that!

 All of these items can be found around the house, outdoors or at the craft store!

  1. Is this thought TRUE? Find a nice smooth and heavy rock and write TRUE? on it with a black sharpie.  Put that rock in your hand and hold onto it while you help your thought pass through the truth test.
  1. Is this thought HELPING me?  Find something with a smiley on it like a small yellow ball with a smiley face on it or a sticker or even a little kid toy that looks friendly.

Continue reading

Navigating The Road To Recovery

Posted on May 16, 2017

How can you prevent relapse?
Henry Steinberger, Ph.D.

Relapse prevention is essential in recovery from chemical and behavioral addictions. Why? Because addiction has been found to reoccur more often when steps are not taken to cope with the cravings, urges, peer pressures, situational cues, bodily discomforts, neuro-biological changes, and other factors which pave the way for slips and relapses.

Therefore, we regard relapse as a “normal” (though distinctly undesirable) possibility on the road to recovery. When you choose to view a relapse as a mistake, grist for the mill,  a learning opportunity and a discrete single event rather than viewing it as a total failure and as evidence predictive of failures, then your chances for success increase greatly.

“The person who really thinks, learns quite as much from his failures as from his successes.” – John Dewey

Top 10 relapse prevention strategies

1. Learn to willingly accept your mind – The first step to preventing relapse is to Continue reading

Mindfulness: How to do it

Posted on April 18, 2017

Part two of a three part series
By Bill Abbott, MD

If you paid careful and mindful attention to Part One of this series on Mindful Awareness enough to want to try it, you might be asking, “How do I do it?”

Practice, practice, practice

Mindful Awareness among other things is a practice in the fullest definition of that word. It is an intention that needs to be acted upon repeatedly, that is not just “one and done” – all fixed. As with any other learned behavior or skill, the more you do this, the more the benefits will grow and accrue.

Repetition means near daily practice and it matters less as to the duration of each practice as it does to the frequency of them; better five minutes a day for a week, than 35 minutes on only one day.

Of course, since Mindful Awareness can be many different things as noted in Part One, there are several aspects to these practices; basic – informal versus formal practices.

Informal practice

Informal practices are many and are all based on the single premise of remembering to pay attention, albeit even briefly, to the present experience many times a day. Many people use reminders or cues over the course of the day Continue reading