Tag Archives: acceptance

What Frees You To Be Yourself…And To Achieve To Your Potential: Acceptance Of Self And Others From A DBT-CBT Perspective

I came across a discussion item on LinkedIn a little while ago about “What frees you to achieve to your potential.”  The individual posting the question focused on “self-discipline”…well, that was not what I had in mind when I read the discussion headline in my email.  Here’s my response!

“I believe self-discipline is a must, but that hasn’t set me free…it burdens me because I am overly-driven. I believe that my tenacity, perseverance, and ability to stay at a task long after others would have left it is a God-given gift…yet sometimes, I think it is also a curse! I guess I haven’t incorporated the “balance” component yet!However, I also believe that I am able to step out of my comfort zone, put myself “out there” or extend myself, try things…and achieve some pretty awesome things now and then because I do not expect that I will be perfect and I recognize that foibles, errors, and imperfections are very human. I realize that not everyone will like me or my style…and that’s okay…because not everyone will! No matter how great someone is…there’s always critics in every corner!I believe acceptance of my humanity and acceptance of the varied temperments of others helps to free me to be myself…extend myself…and be who I was designed to be…and do what I was designed to do. That sure helps me to work through the neurotic self-doubt and shame that has haunted me over the years.”

As I considered that response, it reminded me of a section in the introduction of the DBT-CBT Workbook I wrote last year.   This section is entitled, “Saving Face: DBT-CBT in Action” and the text from this section is below.

You’ve heard the saying about “stepping in it.”  Well, I sometimes “step in it”…and the work of this book is no exception!  I spoke to a professor at Texas A&M, Dr. Brian Stagner, about reviewing this workbook.  He was my mentor during graduate school and he graciously agreed.  Although I’m proud of this work, at the same time, I’m a little embarrassed by it!  That’s a dialectical problem by the way!  I figured he’d be impressed by the content, but stunned by the language and grammar…so, I never sent it to him!

Part of DBT-CBT is Choosing Our Battles and Taking a Stand and Fighting for what’s MOST IMPORTANT to us…NOT EVERYTHING in life.  It’s also about being prepared for and accepting the consequences of our behavior and choices.  It’s also about being wise…and we’ll see if I made a wise choice!  I expect to take some hits on grammar, like dangling participles, commas instead of semicolons, overuse of contractions, pronoun and antecedent disagreement, Texas slang, and other informal language and grammar.  The truth, I wrote this for the average person and in a language many people speak…except for some southern slang!  It wasn’t written for a professional audience, though I hope many in that audience will read it.  I’m an informal, “down-home girl” and I wrote this for “down-home people.”  I CAN BE formal if I have to be, but I certainly PREFER NOT!

Another criticism I expect is repetition in the workbook.  I tried to write this as I would speak it and teach it in Group.  When I teach important principles and concepts, I often repeat myself by explaining the same thing in different words…one sentence right after another.  Sometimes, hearing something said in different ways helps us to understand and remember it better…and if our minds have wandered, maybe we’ll get it the second or third time around!  I’m very invested in the people I work with…and I’m passionate about doing my part to change lives.  I drill home some points because this is intended to be a learning AND recovery experience.  It’s NOT designed for casual reading or entertainment purposes!

You’ll notice some repetition across chapters. My belief, most people don’t have audiographic memories…like they hear something once and remember it. My goal is for people to understand and remember these life-changing principles, concepts, and skills…so they’ll be equipped to apply them in Real Life. Many of us are hard-headed and need this information drilled into our minds. We may not WANT to hear some things and we may not be ready to look at or process some things. We usually have to be emotionally MOVED before we DECIDE to make difficult life changes. Being MOVED often involves looking at the Big Picture of Reality until our eyes are opened and the truth sinks in. Further, to learn how to carry out these skills and to live these concepts…we need to live, eat, and breathe this information until we know it so well we can repeat it back to ourselves. We LEARN by repetition.

Also, everyone doesn’t read a book cover to cover in a few days.  When time goes by, a review of important principles and concepts helps us to get the most out of what we’re reading.  Further, when we’re stressed out by life, our brain is working full capacity to survive and meet here-and-now demands…and it isn’t always so able to fully process and learn new information.  On top of all this, some of us have used a lot of drugs and alcohol, are aging, on medications, or have had head injuries…and our attention, concentration, and memories aren’t like they used to be!  Also, some folks have had learning problems all their lives.  Others may have symptoms of mental illness which affect their ability to concentrate.  In my mind…REPETITION IS GOOD!

The last point of embarrassment is…there WILL BE errors and typos…and Lord, I hope not…lost lines…where they disappear when the document is printed.  I know I’m obsessive-compulsive…a perfectionist in many ways.  I could review this book for ANOTHER year…and continue to make changes.  However, if I don’t GET ‘ER DONE…it’ll be half of forever before it’s in print and can be helpful to people who are HURTING and SUFFERING.  Getting this in print is much more important than perfection and my ego.

Some folks don’t like how I’ve used CAPITAL LETTERS.  I took some out, but left many.  Again, I’m trying to drill home points.  The capital letters are intended to draw attention to important principles and concepts…things I really want folks TO GET and be aware of!  Sometimes, they’re for emphasis (like to say louder when we’re reading), but most often they’re there to highlight a point.  The capital letters may make reading a little difficult until you get used to the writing style.

So, I resolve my dialectical problem of being both proud of this work and embarrassed by it.  I realize I want to print the PERFECT book to please a professional audience…however, I also recognize this book is for the average person who desperately seeks recovery.  THAT IS its value and purpose.  I ACCEPT that no matter how obsessive-compulsive and perfectionistic I am, I’m not perfect and I’ll make errors despite my best efforts to avoid them.  I also understand that although I’m a highly educated professional, it’s not my spirit to interact with the world in a formal manner.  I’m different, I’m down-to-earth, I am ME…and I’m okay.  Some people will accept and embrace this work…others will criticize it.  I understand some people will find fault no matter what…but, I’ve “stepped in it” and have set myself up for criticism because I haven’t used proper grammar or writing rules.

I’ll take my hits, do Damage Control, fix things as I see appropriate, and I’ll move on down the Recovery Path…and on with life!  Perhaps our paths will cross as we journey through the Pathways of Recovery.  Hope to see you there.

And to that, I say, “AMEN!”

So, what frees you to be yourself…and to be who you were designed to be…and to do what you were designed to do?

This text was adapted from the DBT-CBT Therapy Workbook – “Out-of-Control:  A Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) – Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) Workbook for Getting Control of Our Emotions and Emotion-Driven Behavior”  by Melanie Gordon Sheets, Ph.D.  – copyright 2009 – Recovery Works Publications

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Using Rational Mind to Challenge the Emotional Mind Lies We Tell Ourselves That Sabotage Our Self-Confidence and Recovery: A View of Addiction Recovery from a DBT-CBT Therapy Perspective

Here’s an “adapted” excerpt from the DBT-CBT “Out-of-Control” therapy workbook.  It’s from Chapter 7, the Rational Mind chapter.  This chapter discusses Rational Mind in detail and offers many Rational Mind challenges for the Emotional Driven Lies we tell ourselves AND WE BELIEVE…ones that often sabotage our self-esteem and our recovery.

The Self-Fulfilling Prophecy of Failure:
“I expect to fail so I don’t try very hard …so, I fail.”

SKILL BUILDER: Failing to Succeed…or Successful Failures

Consider the lies we tell ourselves about success and failure, like,

“I’ll NEVER be  able to do it.”

“Everything I try gets screwed-up somehow.”

What do you say about your failures?  ____________________________
________________________________________________________

The truth…we MAY HAVE failed at MANY tasks.  If so, we need to rationally understand why.  Quite often, we fail because we DON’T TRY to succeed.  We “KNOW” we can’t do it…so we DON’T TRY, or we DON’T TRY VERY HARD.

Despite USUALLY giving things ONLY A HALF-HEARTED EFFORT, we may recall some times WHEN WE REALLY TRIED, but failed anyway.  BUT, DON’T THINK we’re off the hook because of some FULL EFFORT failures.

WE DON’T GET TO STOP TRYING just because when we’ve REALLY TRIED, we’ve still failed!  Rational Mind would inform us that MOST PEOPLE WHO SUCCEED HAVE FAILED MANY TIMES.  There are many TRUE stories to support this TRUTH.

Which stories have you heard…about people who FINALLY SUCCEED AFTER A LONG STRING OF FAILURES? _____________________________
_____________________________________________________

Abraham Lincoln ran for MANY political positions and lost MANY TIMES before he ever WON an election.  The ONE he won was THE BIG ONE…the PRESIDENTIAL election!  There are MANY stories about business leaders who had MANY failed businesses before they hit it big!  Henry Ford went bankrupt 5-6 times because of failed businesses before he gained success in the automotive industry.  The Heinz company had the same kind of start.  Have you read that Oprah was fired from a reporter’s job because she wasn’t right for TV?  Somebody certainly misjudged her!

Some of our greatest leaders and wealthiest people failed many times
before they achieved great success.

When we fail, we need to SEEK AN UNDERSTANDING of WHY we failed.  We need to LEARN FROM IT and CORRECT WHAT WE’RE DOING.  We need to change or adjust our plan to deal with what went wrong.  Successful “failures” start with PLAN A and go to PLAN B, C, D, E…and so on until things work out!  Despite their failures, THEY KEEP ON KEEPING ON!

It’s also important to be Mindful of our successes and accomplishments and to note WE’VE ALL HAD SOME!  We also need to realize that WHEN WE’VE TRIED…when we’ve REALLY STUCK WITH IT, we’ve overcome challenges…and WE HAVE BEEN SUCCESSFUL. Consider the 8-18 attempts at recovery that it takes people ON AVERAGE to become clean n’ sober.  Through our recovery attempts, we learn about our triggers and relapse patterns.  We learn we REALLY HAVE TO change the things in our life that we DON’T WANT TO CHANGE…things that we’ve refused to change, like friendships, activities, and abusive or conflict-filled relationships.  Because of our repeated failures at recovery, we FINALLY SUCCEED!  That’s because we’ve revised our Recovery Plan SO MANY TIMES that we FINALLY GET ENOUGH OF THE NECESSARY CHANGES made!  We’re hard-headed and we’ve got to learn from OUR experiences…and in the world of recovery…these experiences ARE OFTEN RELAPSES.

Does this information change the way you think about your “failures”?  If so, explain.  ______________________________________________
___________________________________________________

Changing our LIFESTYLE and our LIFE IS VERY DIFFICULT.
We need to ACCEPT OUR FAILURES

and UNDERSTAND they’re a NATURAL part
of the LEARNING PROCESS…
IF we learn from them.

It’s clear that Emotion-Driven Thoughts like, “I can’t do it. Why try?” are lies we tell ourselves. What’s the truth? _______________________________
______________________________________________________

The truth is, WHEN WE KEEP TRYING, things FINALLY work out.  Sometimes, we don’t succeed because we aren’t going about it the right way.  Therefore, we need to get a NEW PLAN.  Sometimes, we try to do more than is do-able at one time.  We plunge head first when we’d be better off wading in and taking smaller steps!  There are many reasons why we haven’t reached our goals.  Fortunately, most of these problems can be overcome with PERSISTENCE and a REVISED GAME PLAN!

Footnote: This footnote is “margin text” from the workbook alike the dark red inserts in the text above…however, these weren’t so easily woven in!  This first one relates to the 8-18 tries at recovery it takes on average to recover from substance abuse.

“Some say, ‘Been there, done 14, I’ve got to be real close to making it!’ Folks who are new to recovery are discouraged, ‘I don’t want to do this that many times.’ Be Mindful that 8-18 is an average. Some make it on the 1st try (they need to write the book!), others on the 25th. Some make it in 3 tries, others in 20. Bear in mind though…these numbers don’t mean it’s okay to relapse 17 times and then work real hard on the 18th try!”

These are “sayings” in the margin that go along with the text:

“If we don’t put forth a FULL effort,
we’ll never REALLY KNOW if we can succeed.”

“We never fail until we quit trying.
Success comes to those who are determined
to overcome obstacles in their path.”

When we understand that our failures are part of the learning process,
then we can constructively accept our failures and learn from them.

We’re so willful and hard-headed about recovery…
we won’t take someone’s advice or learn from THEIR experiences.
We have to learn from OUR personal experiences…
which is often OUR failures!

A mistake is only a mistake
if we fail to learn from it!
When we learn from our experiences,
our failures become a stepping stone toward success!
Therefore, a recovery goal is to Turn On Rational Mind to challenge our “failure” lies…
and to Turn On Wise Mind to make some adjustments to our Game Plan!
That’s because WE haven’t failed, our plan has!

Hope you enjoyed this blog entry and that it helps to challenge destructive “failure” thoughts.  It took half of forever to format this…the format of the workbook doesn’t cut n’ paste very well…or at least I haven’t learned yet how to do it more efficiently!  Life is one big learning curve and I guess sometimes we’ve just got to hold on…persevere…and enjoy the ride!

What Causes People to Change? When It’s Painful To Change But More Painful Not To

Pain and Suffering and the Pain of Change

Pain is a type of distress.  It’s a natural part of life.  Pain is designed to be temporary.  The purpose of pain is to PUSH US TO DO SOMETHING to end the pain…so we can return to a pain-free state.  Pain is a call to action.

Alike most things in life, we have two choices when it comes to pain.  We can either LEAN INTO the painful situation and change things or we can work hard to avoid dealing with it.

If all we do is work to avoid pain…if we don’t Lean Into it…if we don’t deal with it…if we refuse to accept it…if we refuse to do what’s needed to get through it …OUR PAIN WON’T GO AWAY.  It’ll be with us for a long time.

Running from our problems just prolongs our agony and brings us to a chronic state of suffering… a long-term condition of being overwhelmed with despair and stuck in the same place and time… and we don’t move forward.

We want things to get better in our life, but we’re NOT WILLING to do the things that will make our life better.  We want life to change, but we’re not in the mood to change.

We generally DON’T CHOOSE to make major life changes “out of the blue” or on our own.  Change usually happens when we’re FORCED to make changes.  And most often, we make changes when we have NO OTHER CHOICE but to change.  We generally let things get SO BAD that the pain of living like we’re living is MUCH GREATER than the pain of change…and that’s when we begin to change.

If we really want our life to change, we have to make changes…despite the distress of change.  Our life isn’t going to get better unless we do things that make life better.  When people make major life changes, a strong commitment is made, like, “Come hail or high water, this is going to happen.  I’m going to do what I have to do, no matter what.  I’m so tired of living this way.  I refuse to allow myself to live like this any longer.”

Excerpt from Chapter 11 “Distress Tolerance” of the DBT-CBT Therapy Workbook entitled: “Out-of-Control: A Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) – Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) Workbook  for Getting Control of Our Emotions and Emotion-Driven Behavior” (Melanie Gordon Sheets, Ph.D. – 2009 – Recovery Works Publications)

http://www.dbt-cbt-workbook.com

Radical Acceptance – “Accepting the Unacceptable” – From a DBT-CBT Workbook Perspective

We have a choice to accept difficulties as they come our way…
To lean into them and to get a game plan for dealing with them
AND a choice to Follow Through until we can Get Through…
OR we can choose to avoid, ignore, and numb-out our pain and problems
And stagnate in our pain and suffering.

When we choose to confront things
With an attitude of acceptance
That gives us the serenity to change the things we can
And the wisdom to know our limits.

Acceptance of our life situation and what we need to do about it…is a way of turning suffering we cannot tolerate into pain we can tolerate. It’s a way of turning hopelessness into hope. Most of us have been suffering the pain of our lifestyle and choices for years…and somehow, we remain willing to experience ongoing pain and misery because of them. We’re somehow willing to suffer long-term pain, but we’re not willing to go through the temporary pain of change. We’re somehow willing to dwell in a painful past, to remain in painful situations, and to continue painful addictions and impulsive behavior. We do so because we’re unwilling to accept and undergo the changes that will bring peace and stability.

Radical Acceptance involves accepting what we’d normally consider unacceptable. When we LIVE BY Radical Acceptance, we CAN ACCEPT something whether or not we approve of it and whether or not it’s right or wrong, fair or unfair, or pleasant or unpleasant. Radical Acceptance is about CHOOSING TO ACCEPT whatever is in our best interests to accept.

We MUST ACCEPT whatever we HAVE TO accept because NON-ACCEPTANCE keeps us emotionally troubled and stuck in negativity. To have peace, we must accept many things whether or not they’re acceptable. We must accept things from the past and present. Anything in the past that’s unfixable, we need to LET IT GO. Anything in our current life that we CANNOT CHANGE, we need to accept that it MAY NOT change. Anything we CAN change, we must LEAN INTO…to MAKE THE CHANGES we CAN MAKE. Our Recovery Goal is to live a life that MAXIMIZES peace, stability, meaning, and productivity. To do that, we MUST ACCEPT what has happened HAS HAPPENED, what we’ve done, WE’VE DONE…then, we need to LET IT GO…so we can GO ON with life.

From pages 313 and 316 – Excerpt from “Out-of-Control: A Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) – Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) Workbook for Getting Control of Our Emotions and Emotion-Driven Behavior” by Melanie Gordon Sheets, Ph.D. – 2009 – Recovery Works Publications

Willfulness and Willingness…Fighting for Recovery…From My Overeating Disorder!

“You get skinnier every time I see you.” That’s what my friend said to me today…and I thought, “Fat chance of that!”

Weighed this morning – 128. Not horrible, better than 129 the other day…but lots worse than my monthly average the last few months (125 range) with lows at 122-123.

Getting dressed, I put on my size 10’s…my larger pants since I’m not in the 125 range. Oh my God, they were tight. I am not doing tight first thing in the morning, else by mid-afternoon seams will be a-bursting! Went up a half size bigger…ahhhhhh…and to think I was going to put those in storage just in case I started to get fat again. I shouldn’t need to wear those. I wore those at 135. But…if the pants fit, wear them!

I was feeling despondent, helpless, out-of-control…desperate…hopeless. Then, anxiety hit. I realized this could easily be a relapse point. Eating out-of-control…felt discouraged…was bloated…and having to wear “fat pants”…everything was just right for an Emotional Mind recovery sabotage.

My first panic thought was to strictly reduce my calories to 1100…to punish myself. (Emotional Mind thinking).

Rational Mind said, “That’s too low…and punishing yourself will backfire..it’s not a good thing for you.”

Wise Mind said, “Chill out Mel…work to maintain calories in the 1200 range…that’s very do-able for you…you can tighten up a bit.”

Thank God I’m into this DBT-CBT thing…and I live, eat, and breathe it. And thank God I caught myself in the middle of this serious Emotional Mind game. I thought, “You know, I’m not going there.” Then I thought, “I think I’ve just entered a fight for my recovery. It’s at that point now.”

I then recognized I felt a bit angry about this eating thing…frustrated, just tired of it. Then another thought flew through my mind, “I don’t get mad, I get even.” This is usually a negative, revenge type of Emotion-Driven thought, a self-destructive thought. However, for me…today…it was more like, “It’s time to kick this in the ass…I’m tired of it.” “It” being…”I’m tired of my crap”…it’s like “Shit or get off the pot”…or…”If you’re serious about this diet thing, then make it happen already…Get control or lose control. Game’s over. It’s time to get serious.”

I thought about DBT and “Willfulness vs. Willingness.” Well, one is usually bad – the stubborn, willfulness one…and willingness is usually good – the “I’ll do whatever I need to do to be okay”…it’s the “I surrender,” “I accept,”…the, ”I’m ready and willing” one.

Well, for me today, Willfulness was a positive thing. It was the stubborn and determined part of me…that fight from deep inside…being willful in a survivalist type of way…the, “I’ll be damned if this kicks my ass” type of fire from within!

Willingness was there, too. They stood side by side. I was willing to do what I needed to do to get this eating thing going on. I surrender my will to eat whatever I want to eat. I surrender to setting limits for my eating.

Well, I’ve done very well today with just a minimum of distress. Ended the food day at 6:30pm with 1185 cals. For breakfast I had 1-1/2 fat free turkey sandwiches (double fiber whole wheat bread) and drank coffee with about 25 calories of flavored coffee creamer. I had a can of green beans for lunch. That held me over until my mid-afternoon can of black bean soup which kept me from leaving work starving to death and ready to eat everything in sight when I got home from work. Upon arriving home, I had 3 black cherry yogurts (80 cals each and quite a treat) and a Snickers 290 calorie chocolate protein bar (quite a treat…like a candy bar!) I picked at leftovers and had a couple bites of chicken with green peppers. SUCCESS. Had to forego fruit and sunflower seeds today, but I’m fine. Started the sunflower seeds in the evening when I quit cigarettes a few months ago…and also added a lot of fruit then to deal with the nicotine withdrawal CONSTIPATION! Did just fine though without them tonight.

Now…today I went back to some of the dieting basics like I resolved to do a few days ago…yesterday…whenever it was. I kept a running tally of my calories through the day…and emailed them to my home! I was mindful of what I would eat (for the most part), planned my food day (for the most part) and I did the “think through before you do” thing. Now, tomorrow is a new day and I sure hope I experience that fire from within…and fight for my recovery all over again! I hope my battles help you in your fight.

DBT – CBT and dieting: Counting Calories…and They’re Adding Up!

I did good with my eating ALL day…until the bowl of Stouffer’s lasagna just a little while ago. Boy, it sure was good! Enjoyed every cheesy bite! Didn’t need it, just chose to have it. Put me about 200 calories higher than desirable for the day…makes for a “bad” day. Total calories today – 1465. Month average is now 1265 which is perfect for me…just where I want to be. Allows me to lose about a pound or two a month.

I’m bothered by eating more than desirable today. Did well with mindful eating ALL day…until the lasagna! However, I haven’t given up on me…yet. I’m determined to figure this out. A part of me says, “Maybe your body is just ready for maintenance eating” rather than losing weight. That’s probably Rational Mind! Emotional Mind says, “Well, I’m not ready for that. I still want to lose about 10-15 pounds” (Yes, I’ll still be within ideal body weight and more where I was most of my life before I got heavy in my late 20’s.)

The Wise Mind thought crossed my mind, “Just exercise some each day, that’ll take care of those extra calories.” My stubborn, Emotional Mind responded, “Nah, I’d just rather try to eat less.” In other words, I’m too lazy to exercise…I have other interests and things to do…I want to do the diet my way…not the way I know is best. So, I’ll persist in my stubborn ways and see how it goes.

Rational Mind says, “You can continue to try it your way, but if it isn’t working, you’ll have to try something else.” And, Wise Mind says…”See that bowflex and stepping machine behind you…” I think I’d rather give up that chocolate Snickers protein bar (290 cals) rather than exercise an hour! I’d much rather do that!

Touchdown Minnesota…Can’t help to favor Favre!

Tomorrow I’ll eat like I did today, but not allow myself to have the Snicker’s protein bar.

My God, what an awesome play by Green Bay…major pass from Rodgers…touchdown Green Bay. Score is tied. Exciting game!

An Intro to Recovery from the Out-of-Control DBT-CBT Therapy Workbook

Welcome to DBT-CBT! This is an exciting time! You’re about to embark on a journey that CAN change your life! The original DBT program developed by Marsha M. Linehan, Ph.D. was designed to treat some of the MOST DIFFICULT to treat individuals…and the results have been ASTOUNDING! This program, DBT-CBT, is based on Dr. Linehan’s work, but it has been GREATLY modified! It includes many original concepts, principles, and techniques developed during 24 years of patient care. MANY PEOPLE have described DBT-CBT to be LIFE-CHANGING, so HAVE GREAT HOPE! Applying the principles of DBT-CBT to your life CAN BE LIFE-CHANGING…but only if you’re WILLING TO MAKE CHANGES in your life. I assume you have great interest in changing your life…in feeling better, in responding to the world better, and having better life outcomes and experiences… else, you wouldn’t be reading this book…especially an Intro!! You’ve already taken the first step on this journey…and the Road to Recovery! WELCOME ABOARD!

This workbook is written for people who are hurting and suffering the pain of life. It’s about bringing hope and peace and the life-changing gift of healing and recovery. I hope you heal and recover. I hope this workbook leads you there. Even if it’s just about “planting seeds” or watering the seeds of recovery that were planted before, then, IT IS GOOD. This workbook CAN BE life-changing…AND HOW I HOPE…it is YOUR LIFE that is changed!

Think about this…if we do not make positive changes in our life, our life will NOT change for the positive. Please remember this. Repeat it over and over…”IF I DO NOT MAKE POSITIVE CHANGES IN MY LIFE…MY LIFE WILL NOT CHANGE FOR THE POSITIVE.” Let that penetrate your soul. Making major life changes is hard to do, BUT with effort, support, and the grace of God, MANY people RECOVER! We all know these people or we’ve heard their stories. They’re RECOVERED drug addicts, alcoholics, career criminals, “treatment failures,” and “hopeless cases.” They’re people with long histories of depression, anger, anxiety, suicide attempts, self-mutilation, abusive relationships, aggression, eating disorders, Bipolar Disorder, codependency, Borderline Personality Disorder, and other major life issues. Something Happened and they became disgusted enough or slowed down long enough to Think Things Through. They set their heart, mind, soul, and spirit on recovery…and THEY RECOVERED.

Think about people you know who have recovered…or recovery stories you’ve heard. How did they do it? What changes did they make in their life?

Recovery Requires Us…

    …to make major life changes…including changes in how we think and respond to life…our life in the past, the present, and the future.

    …to turn away from old ways and respond to life in new ways.

    …to use Life-Enhancing Coping Skills to deal with tough and trying times rather than our preferred Self-Destructive Coping Behaviors.

    …to make changes in what we allow in our life and what we allow ourselves to be involved in.

    …to remove toxic people and situations from our life…and add life-enhancing, recovery-supporting people and situations.

    …to fill our life with meaningful activities and relationships…things that give life meaning and value.

    …to have hope and faith that things will get better as we get better.

    …to accept that life isn’t easy or always enjoyable.

    …to accept and deal with the difficult things that Come Our Way.

    …to give ourselves time to grow into and be…more and more the person we were designed to be.

People who recover make many changes in their life. They realize recovery is a process…a lifestyle…and NOT a one-time event! Recovery requires work. It’s work worth doing…because we’re worth the work and the people who love us and depend on us are worth our work and sacrifices! Recovery requires dedication and perseverance to live, eat, and breathe the principles, concepts, and skills for living a Recovery Lifestyle. This workbook also requires dedication and perseverance to work through. It’ll teach many principles, concepts, and skills for living a Recovery Lifestyle.

Our Humanity
It’s important to accept we’re human…and because of our humanity, we’ve made many errors and bad decisions. Most of us have done some pretty stupid and shameful things…and many self-defeating things over and over! We’re human and we have a record of our life to prove it! If you find yourself wearing these shoes, realize you’re not the trailblazer. Many have come before you…and many are walking the same path right now. You might say, “Yeah, some more than others!”…and you’re right!

We’re a product of our past experiences and the environments we were raised in. It’s RARE that a kid with a stable home environment, emotionally healthy parents, positive role models, and good self-esteem begins to live a troubled life. Something generally happened that led the kid off course. RARELY do kids with “good enough upbringings” just “go bad.” This isn’t meant to minimize OUR RESPONSIBILITY for our behavior and choices, but it’s important to understand “why we are the way we are” is because Something Happened in our life, be it one very difficult situation or many.

On Acceptance
Recovery requires us to accept what has happened…has happened…and what we’ve done, we’ve done. These things are of the past. They’re over and they’re done. Nothing we can do now will change the past. It’s history. It’s our history. Today is the present…and the things we do today CAN CHANGE our life…our today and our tomorrows. Focus on today and plan for tomorrow…and live the wisdom of “The Serenity Prayer” – “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

This workbook will help us develop skills to manage our life in the here-and-now. We’ll learn skills to cope effectively with our problems, to set boundaries to prevent and minimize emotional distress and problems, to gain peace and acceptance, and to make lifestyle changes which will gradually lead to relief, peace, then satisfaction, and finally, joy. Some people recover on the first try; however, recovery usually takes many attempts over many years. Some days may be easy…and some more difficult. Recovery hinges on minute-to-minute and hour-to-hour decisions to remain on the Recovery Path. We can help ourselves along the way by seeking people who will support and encourage us along the path of recovery…AND BY AVOIDING people who are critical or negative BECAUSE THESE PEOPLE ARE TOXIC TO OUR RECOVERY.

On Recovery
We can be “straight A” therapy students. We can earn extra credit on every assignment. We can have all the answers and understandings possible. However, to recover, WE’VE GOT TO BE WILLING TO APPLY THE PRINCIPLES OF RECOVERY TO OUR LIFE! Knowing what to do is one thing…actually doing it is another! We must DO recovery things and LIVE a Recovery Lifestyle. This often requires us to STEP OUT OF OUR COMFORT ZONE AND TAKE THE STEPS NECESSARY TO CHANGE OUR LIFE. The question is…“WHAT ARE YOU WILLING TO GIVE UP OR CHANGE IN ORDER FOR YOUR LIFE TO CHANGE…FOR THE BETTER?!!”

That’s a difficult question. Honestly reflect on it a minute. What are you WILLING to give up or change in order for your life to change?

No doubt you have some things in mind…and heart…that YOU KNOW MUST CHANGE…in order for YOUR LIFE to CHANGE and your LIFE SITUATIONS to IMPROVE. There are many things we need to give up and change. These are often things we have NO DESIRE to give up or change. That’s where we run into problems. We have the gut wisdom TO KNOW what these things are…they’re just hard to look at and deal with! What do you NEED TO CHANGE? This question will come up many times during this study. The answer you write today may be very different from your answer later. That’s because this study will help you gain insight and learn more about the things that mess up our lives and keep our lives messed up.

Take a few moments and reflect on your thoughts and feelings about this opening reading. Does it make you excited? Uneasy? Anxious? Does it bring a sense of hope and peace…and light at the end of the tunnel…or does it bring a sense of dread…or some of both?