Tips For Maintaining Your Recovery

Maintaing Your Recovery

Recovery takes action. You can start simply by setting your alarm earlier in the morning, getting up, making your bed. You can do things like clean the house, or something that you’ve put off for some time. Go to a meeting, meet up with friends, maybe you haven’t done that in a while either but remember, recovery takes action.  Also, breathing is important. Recovering from any illness can be difficult, like an injury, so this is definitely the case recovering from alcohol and drug addiction. So please commend yourself for your courage for coming into recovery and just breathe.

Connections. Connection provides purpose. Coming into recovery we can start to feel feelings of guilt, shame, isolation, fear, depression, so making those connections with people who are necessarily like-minded can really help boost your recovery. Finding a mentor, spiritual advisor or sponsor is really important, again it links up with connection. You’re going to find a much more intimate relationship with someone, somebody you can tell all your deepest, darkest secrets, your problems, all your stuff from active addiction. So, it’s important that you find somebody like this as it will help with your confidence, your self-esteem, it will help build you back into the person that you were meant to be.

Asking for help is important. Asking for help is not something that comes naturally to people who suffer with alcohol or drug addiction, so asking for help, may look like reaching out & saying, ‘I can’t do this anymore and I need help’. It is difficult, recovery, life, is difficult, and you may be in a relationship, you may have children, you may have a stressful job, you may just really struggle with day to day life, so asking for help with these things is really important because there are people out there that will help you, especially a sponsor, mentor, and people in the recovery community.

Take one day at a time. Coming out of addiction or being in addiction we can live in the past which can then create lot of depression, or we can project into the future. This can bring a lot of anxiety as well, so something that we teach is definitely to keep it one day at a time. What can I do just for today to help me in my recovery? It might be eating three meals a day, taking the kids to school, doing a bit of exercise but definitely taking it one day at a time.

Meditation helps in taking things one day at a time. Meditation can help keep you grounded, it can help you deal with any feelings and emotions that you may be feeling for the first time in a long time. It can help you switch off busy thinking, it can help you really learn to sit with yourself. People who struggle with alcohol and drug addiction tend to suppress feelings so when these feelings start to come up for the first time normally in a very long time, meditation is a great way of grounding that and actually accepting things for what they are.

Excercise is important.  Coming into recovery is a forward behavior, it’s a healthy choice, and excercise is something that actually releases a natural endorphin into your brain. So, it’s actually healthier for you, obviously you see the results externally, but internally it makes you feel a lot better as well, so if you can exercise three or four times a week, that’s really positive. Volunteering or giving back in any form to the community really helps early on in recovery. It helps you to adapt to new relationships, it helps you to get out of yourself, so if your head’s busy, if you’ve got a voluntary position, it’s something positive to concentrate on. You can also make friends and boost self-esteem, it can give you a new direction in life and open up new ways to finding goals.

Learn how to have some fun!  Recovery is not all doom and gloom. Yes, it can be hard, as life is hard, but recovery should also be fun. Find yourself a group of like-minded people, try some new hobbies, do things that you’ve always wanted to do, find some inspiration, go for walks in the woods, go to a sober dance. The world may be your oyster, so go on holiday, go trekking in the mountains, there’s many things that you can do to have fun in your recovery.

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The Importance Of Boundaries

Setting Boundaries in Recovery

A clear vision of what you are trying to achieve in setting health boundaries will help motivate you “to feel the fear and shame and do it anyway,” which will enable you to begin setting boundaries so you can heal, grow, and allow your True Self to emerge. When you’re ready to take your first steps, begin by practicing in the mirror and with trusted supports, such as a best friend, sibling, or your spouse. Explain to them what you’re trying to do, which is learning to speak up when someone does something that bothers you. Warn them that your first attempts might be sloppy, so ask them to be patient and constructive in their feedback. After such practice, move on to other situations.

Bear in mind that you have the right to set boundaries about things you do not like or want.  Healthy people will respect your boundaries. Unhealthy ones might not.  Either way, you must continue moving forward by skillfully speaking up in order to take care of yourself. So, when you identify the need to set a boundary, do it directly, preferably without anger, and in as few words as possible. Do not justify or apologize for the boundary you are setting. Do not allow others to draw you into an argument. Just set the boundary – calmly, firmly, clearly, and respectfully.

Some examples of what setting boundaries may look like…with a spouse: “Honey, I know you’re just trying to be affectionate, but when you grab me from behind, it startles me. So, please warn me when you’re coming.” With a friend: “I know you don’t mean any harm, but I don’t like it when you call me ‘Shorty,’ so please stop.” With an ex: “Our relationship is over. You must stop calling me or I will take legal action.” With a neighbor: “No, Bob, I won’t lend you any money.”

If you are not used to setting boundaries, you’ll probably feel anxious, selfish, mean, or embarrassed when you set one. Feel the fear and the shame and do it anyway! Remind yourself you have the right to take care of yourself. After all healthy people do it every day. You can’t set a boundary and take care of the other person’s feelings at the same time. You’re not responsible for his or her reaction to the boundary you are setting. Your only responsibility to the other person is to set the boundary in a respectful way – meaning assertively not aggressively.

When you feel angry or resentful, or find yourself whining or complaining about someone, you probably need to set a boundary. Listen to yourself, and figure out what you need to do to take care of yourself. When you are confident you can set healthy boundaries; you will have less need to put up walls. I say this because when some people become sick and tired of being used by others, they put up a wall to everyone. This may be a helpful first step if all of your relationships are dysfunctional, but it’s not the ultimate goal, which is to learn to create healthy boundaries so you can have healthy relationships.

In first setting boundaries with people, you will be tested by some. Plan on it. Expect it. Be firm. Remember, your behavior must match the boundaries you are setting. Do not set a boundary and then apology for it or undo it with verbal or nonverbal behaviors that send the message, “You don’t have to respect my boundaries.” People with low self-esteem sabotage their boundaries by sending a mixed message, so don’t send a mixed message. Healthy people will respect your boundaries, but toxic and dysfunctional persons may not. Be prepared to double down when your boundaries are not being respected.

If truly necessary, put up a wall by ending a relationship, sending a cease & desist letter, or obtaining a protective order. You will set boundaries in your own growth and time, not when someone else tells you. A good motto is: progress not perfection, so be patient and encouraging with yourself. Build a support system of people who respect what you’re trying to do, and eliminate toxic persons from your life. Learn to trust, honor, and listen to your true self. Stop being a people pleaser and, instead, be a people respecter, including respecting your own needs and feelings. Setting boundaries will allow your true self to emerge, and that is an exciting journey!

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The Cycle Of Denial

The Cycle of Denial

One of the hardest things for somebody to do is actually to ask for help, to realize that they need help, and that happens when somebody decides they want to go to rehab because life has become too painful for them and they want to do something to change the way they’re living their life. Honesty is something that you find difficult when you’re in active addiction. You develop strategies which will justify and rationalize what you’re doing, you start being dishonest with your colleagues, your family members, about the amount you’re drinking or using, you start telling people that you’re doing really well when in actual fact you’re not and you’re feeling miserable. You start to rationalize, you start to think that, well, if you had my job you’d drink, or if you were in my relationship you’d drink or use or whatever your substance is.

When addicts rationalize, what they are actually doing is trying to find a good enough excuse that will justify using. So, if I have a job that I really don’t like and I find difficult, well if you had that job you would drink too, or I can’t sleep at night, that’s a huge one, I need it to sleep. We look for ways to make sure that ultimately, we don’t have to admit to ourselves that we’ve got a problem. I mean, who does, who wants to admit that they’ve got an issue that they can’t deal with themselves, it takes a lot of pain and consequences before one is willing willing to do that and ultimately that’s what the process is.

Addicts go through a lot of pain and discomfort, lie emotionally, psychologically, lying to ourselves, lying to other people. The pain of that as human beings becomes very difficult to bear and the only way that we can really carry on doing that is to continue using a substance, but our substance use then, in effect, is causing the consequences, so you get caught in this loop that just spirals down. Hopefully you’ll get to a point when the consequences and the pain have got so great that you have one choice left: you have to do something about it.

Once we’ve rationalized and once, we’ve justified, our denial patterns, our denial mechanisms become reinforced. We learn to live in a certain way that allows our addiction to continue. Now, once you come into recovery you start looking at those patterns and behavior and you realize, or hopefully you start to realize, and become aware of those patterns of behavior which have allowed you to do what you’ve been doing for a long time. Those patterns which may have helped you and have been useful in addiction are no longer useful and actually cause you more harm.

Firstly, it can be difficult to recognize those patterns of behavio,r and secondly it can be difficult to actually do something about it. Awareness is great and it’s really powerful to become aware of your behaviors and your denial, but actually then to do something about it, that’s where the hard work starts. In denial, even though we hear from our family, from our friends, from our colleagues, they all tell us about what they see going on in our lives but we find a way to deal with it: we just don’t listen. We refuse to listen, we start getting angry with them, ‘why are you having a go at me all the time?, it’s not my fault, everybody else drinks or uses, it’s just normal’, etc. We start using loads of statements like this to justify, to rationalize, to deny exactly where we are and what the consequences are to ourselves.

Shaking denial and becoming honest is about recognizing the difficulties that we have and asking for help, which in itself is a very difficult process. This is difficult because one of the things that we have to do if we want to get well is to allow ourselves to become vulnerable. People seem to think within society and the wider culture that it’s seen as a weakness to become vulnerable but actually if you can allow yourself to become vulnerable, that takes courage, real courage of a type that most people struggle with. However, people do respond to vulnerability and you start to get well when you allow yourself to be vulnerable and start talking about what’s going on, Change begins when you get the denial, the justifications, the rationalizations out of the way and you start being honest with others, and more importantly honest with yourself and where you are.

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Signs You May Be An Empath Or Highly Sensitive Person

Signs You May Be An Empath

An Empath or Highly Sensitive Person (HSP) are people who deeply feel the emotions of those around them. Just as introverts, empaths are likely to feel overwhelmed by crowds and loud noises. They are also prone to feeling drained and completely exhausted to the point of fatigue. Although introverts and empaths share many traits, there are several characteristics that distinguish empaths.

An HSP is sensitive to many types of energies, and reacts emotionally to being over-stimulated. It’s not like you cry over spilt milk or anything, you just feel emotions – very deeply. If someone is telling you about an incredibly difficult time they went through, chances are you’ll be the one who starts tearing up. On the other hand, you’re quite susceptible to extreme mood swings, because you are so deeply affected by the emotions of others.

Empaths have a deep sense of knowing when it comes to understanding other people’s motives. You can usually tell if a person is lying or not being authentic. You are very observant of the subtle messages other people send through body language and facial expressions, so you can easily read people like a book.

Being an empath or HSP means that you simply can’t stand disagreement. In the face of conflict, you will either completely avoid the situation, or seek to resolve theissue immediately. Your motto is “there is always a way,” and thanks to your persistence, you usually find it. You’re also very sensitive to violence and aggression in the media. You are deeply affected by the news, television and movies. You may be moved to tears or even feel ill from watching violence on television.

Having a keen energy antenna not only leads you toward being an empath, but usually towards creativity, as well. Whether a painter, musician, mathematician, inventor, or social revolutionary, you feel inspiration from beyond, and this propels you to do things that move society forward;Things that most people don’t currently understand, and that seem to go against the grain.

Empaths tend to listen to a broad range of music genres. Your music preferences are usually influenced by your varying emotional states. However, you should be especially mindful of the messages in the music you listen to. You can be deeply affected by the lyrics in a song. Sometimes, an empath may be better off just listening to instrumental music.

HSP’s tend to connect deeply with animals, and they’re not going to be the people who tie their dogs up outside for hours on end. You likely have a pet or two at home, and you may feel the need to be outdoors often in order to neutralize negative emotions you take on from others. And since you can feel the pain of animals, eating meat just throws you off.  You may decide that it’s easier on your heart to simply go vegan.

People often go to empaths when they need to talk about something, and empaths are usually great listeners, but they’re not good at listening to a bunch of small talk. One second you’ll be listening to your friend telling you about her day at work, and the next you’ll be thinking about what someone said to you earlier, trying to decipher its meaning. If something is particularly boring or completely disconnected from emotion, you tend to drift off into your own little world.

Empaths may walk into a party or social event, and immediately feel the energy of the group. Whether it’s positive or negative. If you sense it as positive, you likely join in with the socializing. If you sense it as negative, you may just decide to leave.

An HSP, at heart, is a free spirit who finds rules and routines debilitating.  Spending eight hours a day in a cubicle?  No thanks! You get bored easily if you aren’t properly stimulated, and if you don’t find what you do for a living very interesting, you’re probably going to end up leaving your job sooner than expected. You like to feel free to express yourself in the world, in your own unique way, and you are often drawn to adventure, travel – and of course, freedom.

Empaths often attract people into their lives like magnets because of their gentle compassionate nature. But you pick up others’ emotional energies like a sponge, and this drains you. An empath may feel like others actually suck the energy out of them. As an HSP, you may just want to get away and be by yourself to reset your energy field and gain your sense of balance. Solo time also helps you feel inspired and creative. If you find you resonate with the information provided here, then you’re likely an HSP.  If so, take it as a good thing, a gifted and creative way of being.  Are YOU an empath?

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Love Addiction

Love Addiction

The concept of love addiction comes out of the addictions treatment community, thus the name addiction and there’s this understanding or it was previously thought that love addiction was rooted in what would be called an addiction process or a process addiction. Therefore, the treatment, the thinking, the approach to working with love addiction was similar to working with other addictions.

Attachment styles, or a system that’s built into our brain and is connected to our nervous system and this attachment system being how we bond and connect with people, which in turn comes from our family, from our parents. Another phrase used is called primary caregivers. So, if we had a close person that was our significant caregiver, we developed an attachment style that really allows us to use that template in our mind for how we create and recreate adult relationships in our life.

Now there’s a challenge to this attachment system if there were insecure attachments within your family or with the primary caregiver, often times if we have some kind of history of being abandoned or neglected or ignored and for some people that also includes being abused. Regardless of where you fall in that spectrum when there is an insecure attachment, we seem to bring that into our adult lives and we then create an insecure attached relationship. This is not conscious, it has to do with the part of the brain called the limbic brain and the limbic brain is not the thinking brain or the conscious brain. It’s the part of the brain that operates from a very primal, emotional place that experiences trust and safety and knows how to interact and relate with another person.

If the limbic brain gets triggered or activated in such a way out of an emergency, a sense of separation, feeling like the relationship is not full of trust and safety, what’s going to release are a number of hormones. Hormones will get released into your body, certain chemical processes, and it’s going to activate anxiety. And how we manage this anxiety really determines or will evidence the number of symptoms that we call love addiction. So, what love addiction is all about is developmental, emotional trauma that is rooted in attachment injuries. That’s a little bit of a different focus than channeling our thinking through an addiction lens or an addictions model for how we would work with these symptoms and characteristics referred to as love addiction.

To seek out a relationship with another person is to say will you show up, will you listen, will you bring a level of responsibility, a level of seriousness to this conversatio, to be able to witness the part of the me that I need to share; part of my humanity. A way to capture the importance of relationships and a reason why love addiction begins in the first place, is due to our personal history. For love addicts that were not seen, known, heard or understood. When they are seen, known, heard and understood, there’s an exchange. There’s this emotional attunement, there’s an emotional connection that’s made between two people and our bodies are nervous system functioning in our brain actually activates and we sync up with another person and this allows us to calm down and to feel a sense of peace. Life will have a sense of possibility when we derive strength and support from other people.

This is what we all want deep down on a very fundamental basis, we want to experience that level of connection, of being seen, known, heard and understood. When a person is struggling with an attachment injury and you have a lot of anxiety or you have the symptoms showing up that get referred to as ‘love addiction’, it’s impossible to think yourself out of the activation of that anxiety. The reason is there are different parts of the brain that are working when this emotional trauma is activated or triggered. It’s not thinking based, you’re not just going to be able to think yourself out of it. For that reason, phrases like, ‘just let it go, just get over it, calm down’, etc. are essentially unhelpful because they appeal to reason & not emotion.

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Resentment: The Main Offender

Resentment in Recovery

Resentment is the number one offender on the road to relapse in addiction recovery. When we really can hold on and really feel the pain that we’ve had, in some cases for a very long time, where maybe we feel we’ve been wrongly done or we’ve been hurt where perhaps we shouldn’t have been…it can really take grip and keep us wrapped up in addiction. Resentment serves to help us re-feel old pain and we kind of torture ourselves with it by re-feeling it and hitting the replay button many times. Doing so actually turns into self-resentment, loathing and self-pity, we can take ourselves out of the equation feeling that we have no part in that resentment. Probably we did and it normally works out that we had a lot more part than we believe and it wasn’t all on the other person, place or thing.

It is important to work on your resentments in rehab, in recovery and throughout life in order to stay sober. Many people struggle with resentments towards family members and that can be really difficult, it’s an ongoing thing, a work in progress. We have to change our actions, really recognize our part and learn to show compassion towards people who are imperfect. People tend to deal with what’s been passed down to them and so much resentment is just passed-on pain patterns with which we need to break free. When we can have compassion, that people are just human, people make mistakes, we can break free from resentment, we can give ourselves a good chance to not keep hurting.

If we believe its important just to find some peace in life, especially in recovery, then its best not to keep re-living our grudges. The more we disengage or isolate and cut people off when actually we crave connection. The deeper into a resentful attitude we may descend, the closer to relapse.  It’s through connection, it’s through belonging that we are going to succeed in recovery. Often what we see with resentment is that we’ve actually engaged in the same behaviors that we are angry about, what we feel has been done to, then we’ve gone on to do the same things to others. So can we really be so blameful towards those people when we’ve done just the same to them or others?

Can we see that perhaps we’ve wronged people in similar ways and it was all because of our addictions turning us into somebody we never wanted to be? Things we never really wanted to do, we ended up doing because of the grip of addiction. We can break free from that and change behaviors, actions we take today so that resentment doesn’t keep us returning to active addiction. In recovery, its important that we highlight this issue and do the work that we need to. There’s work to be done and this work can never be done alone, we’ll never get out of resentment on our own. Our own head makes it real, it makes it true, but when we share what we are feeling to another human being in an honest attempt to rid ourselves of resentments we can get another perspective. This may help us see things clearer and find freedom.

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