Tag Archives: motivation

The “Why” Matters: On Motivation (by Elspeth)

Posted on May 19, 2015

Ijogging on beach’ve never crashed a car or received a DUI, never drunk while pregnant, never been fired from a job, never punched someone in a bar, and never set the house on fire. My marriage is long and happy, my daughter excels at school and is socially happy, and I have a successful career in an competitive field. Yet I was also a lush for twenty years, and wine increasingly eroded my productivity as well as my enjoyment of daily life. Most bothersome, wine—drinking it, planning around it, figuring out how to get enough of it, recovering from it—was a squatter on my psychic landscape. Its role in my life had grown too large, but (like many people who drink too much to cope with stress), I found it difficult to moderate. “In for a glass, in for a bottle” was my usual approach. I didn’t identify with the word alcoholic, at least not as a label of who I am, but I knew I needed to quit drinking in order to preserve the other things I am. Still, I found it difficult to maintain the motivation to quit for more than a month-long “liver holiday” now and again.

 

One of the appealing things about SMART Recovery is that it doesn’t insist you have to hit “rock bottom” to know that your life could be better. (Why should someone have to ruin a life in order to save that life?) After joining online, I began with an exercise called the cost-benefit analysis, which is simply four lists enumerating the advantages and disadvantages of drinking and of not drinking. All four are important, which you can read more about on SMART’s website, but I was initially motivated most by the “costs of drinking.” After all, that’s what drives most addicts to take action: they are experiencing negative consequences. As I’ve said, mine weren’t of the super-scary, rock-bottom variety, but cumulatively they were persuasive: headaches endured, money spent, sleep quality eroded, time wasted, workouts skipped, conversations misremembered, health risks elevated, books unread, and so on.

 

Even more helpful in maintaining motivation over time, though, has been my “benefits of not drinking” list. This list grows longer and more detailed every week, and the process of revising and adding to the list has helped me experience life without wine as liberating and empowering rather than as punishing and self-abnegating. A key question: Who do I get to be without alcohol?

 

I’m a regular participant in SMART’s online forum, and there I have encountered people who have used their freedom from addiction to reclaim careers and hobbies and others who have embarked on new adventures, becoming avid photographers or cyclists or moving into higher-paying or more satisfying jobs. People (some of whom experienced far worse consequences from their addictions than I did) are running marathons, taking up pottery, and starting new and happy relationships. They are living lives that have less room for alcohol—and lives worth protecting from relapse. It’s a non-vicious cycle of positive motivation.

 

Of course major transformations aren’t complete the instant you leave the cork in the bottle. Life can even be harder at first, because you are actually dealing with stuff instead of escaping from it. The motivation to change can feel weakest when the memory of your last hangover fades and your new life isn’t yet sparkly—or even just when life’s normal obstacles and irritations crop up. It’s during such times that I turn for motivation to the seemingly minor items on my benefits list, from “better skin” to “more likely to crave salad than a Mexican combo platter.” This morning was gorgeous, and I took my dogs for a long walk. In my pre-liberation days, the sun would have made my head pound, I would have avoided eye contact with friendly neighbors, and the highlight of my dogs’ day would have been abbreviated as I pulled their leashes to hurry home. Today it went like this: I noticed the particular blueness of sky, the freshness of the air, the unusual song of a bird, the pleasure my dogs took in the smells along our route. These, too, are reasons not to drink, and I thank myself and SMART Recovery for such things every day.

 

Elspeth has been a member of SMART Recovery for 12 months. She is a writer interested in fitness and nutrition.

“What Gets Measured Gets Managed”

Posted on April 28, 2015

What Gets Measured Gets Managed
by Rev Dr Kim Miller, SMART Recovery Facilitator, Australia

Peter Drucker was the world’s most influential business management teacher and author following the second world war. In my long-gone engineering days I was trained in his Management By Objectives principles and thought I’d left it all behind when I left engineering. However, today I want to highlight one of his management quotes:

“What gets measured gets managed.”

We can see how this can relate to the business world. If you are selling potatoes and have a goal to do better you need to know how many bags of potatoes you sold last week so you can increase sales next week. If you are a taxi company wanting quicker response times you need to keep track of every call, every car, every driver. You need to measure it to manage it. Without measuring anything you lose control of everything.

Drucker’s quote has a great relevance to SMART Recovery. After all, this is the place where we talk about a Cost Benefit Analysis (CBA) as a specific way of weighing up (measuring) the good against the bad when using drugs or alcohol. Continue reading

Power of Positive Reinforcement

Posted on March 24, 2015

A note on “enabling” vs. positive reinforcement
~Jeffrey Foote, PsyD, Center for Motivation and Change

“Caring about and staying connected in a helping way with someone dealing
with substances is not only helpful, it’s one of the most powerful motivators for change.”

Positive ReinforcementIf you are a partner, parent, or child of someone struggling with substance problems, and you live in America, you’ve probably heard this word “enabling” (possibly many, many times). And you’ve probably heard this described as central to your interactions in helping your loved one. Mostly, you have heard “DON’T DO IT”!, and if you are like most concerned family members, you feel vaguely guilty for doing something you’re not even sure you are doing (but you must be, right?). By way of quick review, “enabling” actually means doing positive things that will end up supporting continued negative behavior, such as providing your child with money so they won’t “go hungry” during the day, knowing they use it to buy pot, or going to talk to the teacher to make sure they don’t get a bad grade, even though their bad test score was due to drinking, or calling your husband’s work to explain he’s sick today, when he’s actually hung over. These are examples of doing something “nice” for your loved one that actually (from a behavioral reinforcement standpoint) might increase the frequency of the negative behavior, not decrease it. The logic: if they act badly, and nothing happens, or something good happens, this behavior is encouraged, even if what you are doing is “nice”. This IS enabling, and this is not helpful in changing behavior in a positive direction.

But everything nice is not enabling! And that’s the quicksand we have developed in our culture. Staying connected, rewarding positive behaviors with positivity, being caring and loving; these things are critical to positive change. So what’s the difference? Continue reading

Overcoming Addictions – Recovery Web App

Posted on February 17, 2015

Scientifically Supported Recovery Option

Overcoming AddictionsLooking for a personalized, structured plan of attack for making positive changes in support of your addiction recovery?

Overcoming Addictions (OA) is a new alternative in the spectrum of recovery options. It is a confidential and interactive web app that can help you achieve and maintain abstinence from addictions.

OA is an abstinence-oriented, cognitive behavioral, internet application based on the program of SMART Recovery. SMART Recovery is an organization that has adapted empirically supported treatment strategies for use in a mutual help framework with in-person meetings, online meetings, a forum, and other resources. Continue reading

Addiction Recovery – A Sports Analogy

Posted on September 30, 2014

​How do you change from a team you’ve supported for a long while?

-HughK, SMART Recovery Facilitator
 

SupportersImagine you are in a stadium FULL of people. The game is drawn and the outcome hangs in the balance.

One team gets the ball, heads towards their scoring end and the crowd, or half the crowd, starts to cheer!

They score! Half the stadium goes WILD! The other half groans! It is the same actual event that they both see – the emotion and depth of their reactions depends on which side they support, and how intensely emotional they feel about their team.

In addiction recovery I was attempting to change teams from the Addiction NAL (in the National Addiction League), to the Engaged NWL (in the National Wellness League). These two teams constantly played off in the Super Bowl of my life!

Some of my family and some of my friends couldn’t understand WHY I ever supported Addiction NAL. But I had my reasons: Continue reading

A Mindful Approach to Addiction Recovery

Posted on June 24, 2014

Self-Management Begins with Intention
-Charles A., SMART Recovery® Facilitator


SMART Recovery is about actively managing your self and directing your actions. What do you intend to actively do today… or ‘NOW’… to manage your addiction recovery?

We have the power of choice, but in order to realize this power, forming intentions and doing the work of changing our thinking and behaviors is required for success… so…

… what’s your intention for self-management today?

Here are some examples (different addiction examples are included here.)

  • Study in my SMART Recovery handbook for 15 minutes
  • Attend a meeting
  • Take my vitamins
  • Work on an item I’ve put off
  • Eat sensibly
  • Respect myself by examining and rating my thoughts and behaviors… instead of self-rating and self-downing
  • Drive home a different way to avoid my old patterns
  • Exercise for 10-15 minutes
  • Drink water instead of soda at lunch
  • Create an urge log
  • Practice unconditional acceptance with myself and others
  • Set a new boundary
  • Do a Cost-Benefit Analysis worksheet
  • Spend 10 minutes reading in the online library, and then practicing what I’ve learned
  • Stay in the NOW, rather than letting my mind drift to the past or the future
  • Make a journal of the ANTs (Automatic Negative Thoughts) I have each day, and work to dispute them
  • Spend 15 minutes cleaning the kitchen

………… and so forth.
Continue reading