“Look beyond the walls of therapy, towards independence and empowerment.”
In Recover!, Ilse Thompson and I liken your addiction to the noise of the surf that you dive under in the ocean. You then come up fresh on the other side of the wave. That image is an example of a mindfulness exercise or meditation through which you translate your thinking into a concrete image that you can identify with your addiction and manipulate mindfully.
Mindfulness means slightly different things in psychology (à la Ellen Langer) and Buddhism (à la Tara Brach). In Langer’s formulation, mindfulness is the awareness of what impels you to behave as you do, emotionally and situationally. In Buddhism, mindfulness is the acute awareness of your presence in the world, the here-and-now. Langer’s mindfulness allows you to control your environment and yourself; Buddhism’s to experience the world directly and instantly.
The first formulation allows you to feel your agency—that you are directing your life in place of being driven habitually and emotionally. The second allows you to be at peace with yourself—the notion of radical acceptance.
And both types of mindfulness are tools with which to attack addiction. Each of them shows you Continue reading
Are You a Loser?
People observe their behavior, and evaluate it in terms of how well they like it. If we did not do this, we would have no way of improving how we act. When people seek help in therapy, in self-help groups, or by reading self-help books, they are not merely observing and thinking of their behaviors and deciding how to make adjustments. Typically, their thinking interferes with their ability to adjust and often they’re mainly aware of their misery.
REBT attempts to show you that (1) events do not automatically create your thoughts, (2) events do not cause your emotions, and (3) by changing your thinking, you will see things differently, and then your thoughts and emotions will aid you instead of interfering with your actions.
Let’s say you failed at something important to you. Compare the following two sets of thoughts regarding how they make you feel, how truthful they are, and how well they help you adjust.
1. I failed and that’s bad. Maybe I didn’t pay close enough attention to what was going on to prevent my failure. I regret that.
2. I should not have failed. It’s awful to fail as I did. Because I did fail, I’m a loser; I can’t stand myself.
What is Mindfulness?
-Don Sheeley, MD, SMART Recovery Facilitator
I use the term “Mindfulness” to mean Active Self-Awareness.
We can be aware of our internal thoughts, feelings, and bodily sensations, and we can be aware of the interaction of ourselves with the external world (sight, sound, touch, taste, feel). We can be aware that we take in sights and sounds, etc. from the external world and process them and apply our internal thoughts and beliefs to them. Then we can become aware that there is someone who is aware of all that, and that guy is Me, the same me who was 12 years old, then 29, and now 62. (Yikes!) That’s it.
So we’re not really “aware of others.” We are aware that we hear what another says and then we are aware of what we think about that and how we feel about that, and maybe we are aware of how we process that.
Similarly, mindfulness is not necessarily placid, comfortable, or relaxed. Continue reading
by Margaret Speer, SMART Recovery meeting participant
I believe in self-empowerment and the power of choice. I successfully used these techniques to remain mindful and sober. I’ve improved my confidence, self-acceptance, and increased my independent positive decisions. I lived my life too long and blind to the power I hold within myself. Sobriety through self-empowerment was the hardest journey I have ever accomplished. I developed a healthier lifestyle within my daily routine and recovery goals. I know it is going to take my lifetime to maintain my recovery in addiction to alcohol while developing patience for my impulsive behaviors.
Since I was 15 years old, I have experienced complications with my involvement with alcohol. I was consistently battling, and failing with every attempt to stop my chemical use. Finally when I was 30 years old I woke up and removed my blinders – eyes wide open. Continue reading
April 12, 2014, 12:00 noon (edt)
Dr. Michael R. Edelstein, author of Three Minute Therapy will present “How to Overcome Addictions in One Lesson” on Saturday, April 12 2014 at 12:00 noon edt.
This webinar is designed to be helpful for any harmful behavior – drugs, gambling, eating disorders, smoking, self-harm — substance-related or not. Bring your questions! We think you’ll find, as one book reviewer noted, that: “Michael Edelstein cuts through the psychological jargon and makes clear how all of us can effect powerful changes in our psyches, in our lives and in the lives of our loved ones.”
Advance registration is required for this event. Please visit www.smartrecovery.org/events.
Dr. Michael R. Edelstein is a licensed clinical psychologist with over 30 years experience and has a private practice in San Francisco, offering in-person as well as telephone/Skype sessions. He is famous as the author of Three Minute Therapy: Change Your Thinking, Change Your Life, with David Ramsay Steele, a self-help book for overcoming common emotional and behavioral problems. Most recently, he published Stage Fright, with Mick Berry, Therapy Breakthrough: Why Some Psychotherapies Work Better Than Others, with Richard Kujoth and David Ramsay Steele, and Rational Drinking: How to Live Happily With or Without Alcohol, with Will Ross. He is a long-standing SMART Recovery Volunteer. Continue reading
A Tribute to Albert Ellis
September 27, 2013 is the 100th anniversary of the birth of Albert Ellis, founder of Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy. REBT is an action-oriented approach for helping people manage their emotions, cognitions, and behaviors. The techniques used in REBT have been found to be helpful for people working on addiction recovery and many have been incorporated into the SMART Recovery 4-Point Program.
Dr. Ellis is generally considered to be one of the originators of the cognitive revolutionary paradigm shift in psychotherapy and the founder of cognitive-behavioral therapies. Based on a 1982 professional survey of USA and Canadian psychologists, he was considered as the second most influential psychotherapist in history (Carl Rogers ranked first in the survey; Sigmund Freud was ranked third). Prior to his death, Psychology Today described him as the “greatest living psychologist.” During his career he authored or co-authored over seventy-five books, including “When AA Doesn’t Work for You: Rational Steps to Quitting Alcohol.”
Tom Horvath, Ph.D., President of SMART Recovery, recounts (below) highlights from the memorial that was held for Albert Ellis, Ph.D. at the 2007 annual convention of the American Psychological Association. In contrast to his public reputation as a kind of “Lenny Bruce of therapy”, Ellis was remembered by many for his kindness, courage, wisdom, wit, curiosity, learning, professional contributions, and personal generosity. Continue reading