Tag Archives: relapse

Recovery is a Process: When a Boulder Slams Into Our Recovery Path

Recovery is a Process

“Why try? I’m tired of trying. “Why change? Nothing ever changes?” Many folks in early recovery believe NOTHING will ever get better or they believe things will get better, but only temporarily! They expect that when things are going well, something will happen and ruin everything…the bottom will fall out again and they will end up in the same position or worse. They have trouble believing recovery will make a real difference in their life.

The truth, when we are living a recovery lifestyle things get better in our life. As recovery time increases, the big picture of our life begins to come together and many good things happen. At first, one or two good things happen. When we build on these improvements, several more good things happen…then several more…and several more. Soon, we go from experiencing relief to experiencing some life satisfaction. Over time, periods of joy occur…and meaning returns to our life! The truth, things get better when we get better. Things change when we change.

When a Boulder Lands on Our Recovery Path: Things rock along okay for a while…3 months, 6 months, sometimes longer. We’re dealing with stuff that comes our way…and we’re making gains day by day…and then, something happens. Boom! It’s like a boulder falls out of the sky and smashes right into the middle of our recovery path. We’re now faced with a huge stumbling block…something big…and something hard to get around.

The boulder that slams into our recovery path may be an old friend who shows up one day, maybe someone we’ve been in love with before. We’re feeling all the fun and excitement of the good ol’ times. We’re tempted to spend time with them to relive old times and cherished memories…however, their situation or lifestyle conflicts with our recovery plan. Maybe they still drink or use drugs, or cut, or shoplift…maybe they have a bad attitude or they don’t have steady work and want to stay with us for a while…maybe they’re moody and get very critical and ugly…maybe they’ve abused us before.

The truth…life is going to happen. Difficult things will come our way and boulders will land on our recovery path. The direction our life goes depends on the choice we make when we’re faced with difficult situations. It’s like we come to a fork in the road. We can keep on the right path or we can go down the wrong road. No matter what we do, WE ALWAYS HAVE A CHOICE…to stay on the Recovery Path or to go down Relapse Road.

At this point, we’re faced with a major decision…and we have two choices. We can fight to stay on the recovery path and work to deal with the situation productively, or we can relapse into old behaviors and habits to numb-out and white-out the pain and distress. If we choose to stay on the recovery path, we’ll probably have a tough time dealing with the situation. Getting around, through, and passed a boulder takes time and we’re impatient creatures…especially when we’re expected to tolerate discomfort, inconvenience, pain, and suffering without our preferred destructive coping behaviors! We don’t want to tolerate distress and it’s very tempting to give up…and give in to old ways…the ways of relapse. We don’t want to take the time it takes…to deal with the boulder. We want the pain and discomfort to go away…fast. We don’t want the stress. We don’t want the heartache. We just want to be happy. We want life to go smooth…and when it doesn’t, we get discouraged. We want to call it quits. If life has to be like this, we don’t want any part of it.

The truth is…to maintain recovery, we must have an attitude of willingness. We must be willing to do whatever we need to do to be okay and to maintain our recovery. If we don’t do what it takes to stay on the recovery path…if we don’t try hard enough for long enough…it’s likely that we’ll relapse into our former destructive ways. Then, many of the things that became good because of our recovery will once again go bad…and that’s when we’ll walk away saying, “Why did I even try? I always relapse and things get bad again.”

The truth is…when we try…and continue to try to deal with life and all the boulders that come our way, life will get better and better. If we keep on keeping on, we’ll finally get through…passed…over…and around the boulders and obstacles in our recovery. That’s how people recover. They don’t give up…or they don’t give up for long!

Recovery is not one action. It is not something that happens in a day. It is step-by-step, decision by decision, and day after day. It is a lifestyle…and a life-long endeavor!

Why try? Because life gets good when we try and even better when we keep trying and refuse to give up! The something that happens that destroys our life is our decision to relapse. The thing that really breaks us and causes us to bottom-out emotionally and spiritually is a broken promise to ourselves…the promise we make at the start of recovery. It’s the promise that, “I’ll do whatever it takes to be okay…because I’m tired of living this way. Come hail or high water, I’ll do whatever I have to do to be okay…because I refuse to live like this anymore.”

In our recovery, there will be times when we’re holding on by just a thread…but we’re holding on. It’s only when we let go, that we fall. It’s like the saying, “You never fail until you stop trying.”

—————————————————–

Adapted from Chapter 3 “The Pathways of Recovery” from the DBT-CBT recovery workbook “Out-of-Control: A Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) – Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) Workbook for Getting Control of Our Emotions and Emotion-Driven Behavior” – Copyright 2009 by Melanie Gordon Sheets, Ph.D.  (www.dbt-cbt-workbook.com)

Why We Relapse: Desperate for Peace in a World of Emotional Turmoil

I responded today to a LinkedIn discussion started by Elisabeth Davies, MC of Bright Alternatives, Inc.  and the author of “Good Things, Emotional Healing Journal: Addiction.”  The discussion topic was, “Is relapsing with unhealthy substances an attempt to get more peace of mind? Being so passionate about this recovery topic, here’s my long-winded response!

“For many, yes. Many use substances as a coping behavior to help bring their emotional level to a more tolerable or comfortable level. Also, returning to such a behavior reduces the extreme tension of wanting to do it and not allowing ourselves to…thus, the experience of immediate relief or peace in-the-moment. To help us to feel better about relapsing, we’ve probably come up with all types of reasons (emotion-driven lies) as to why it is okay to do and would help us…and how we can also quit again when life settles down, etc…unless of course, it is a major emotional reflex to an immediate stressor and we do it VERY impulsively…without giving it much thought.

Relapsing on substances is little different than wolfing down a big bag of cookies or scoops n’ scoops of ice cream, or starting to smoke again, a “forbidden” sexual encounter….whatever. I think these types of behaviors have to do with attempts to bring an “out-of-control” emotional mind into control…so that we feel better and more comfortable in the emotional moment. It is all about being desperate for relief and doing what brings us relief, often immediate relief. It’s a desperate way to experience a sense of emotional, psychological, and physical peace IN-THE-MOMENT…although we’ll have hell to pay when we come to (when the emotional moment passes and rational mind picks up strength).

When we come to and realize what just happened and are faced with the consequences of our behavior…and the unresolved problem…we feel bad again…and then we may continue destructive coping….chasing “peace in the moment”…When we use destructive coping behaviors to deal with our pain and problems, we enter the Cycle of Suffering. Our problems multiply and intensity and we go through a period of increased pain and suffering as a result.

I believe most people use destructive coping behaviors to some degree (e.g., overworking, oversleeping, physical aggression, yelling, throwing fits, being rude and ugly, ‘always speaking our mind”, lying, gambling, obsessive exercise, cheating, sleeping around, codependency, procrastination, smoking, prescription meds, alcohol, overeating or eating the desired “poison foods” for us, being hyperreligious, narcissistic….and the list goes on and on.) I actually tell my patients that it’s “normal” to be “abnormal” and entirely abnormal to be so perfectly normal and in control of ourselves. We all do some destructive coping behaviors and the healthier or more in recovery we are…the less we do these things…and the more we work VERY hard to stay in control of our emotions, behaviors, and our addictions of choice….and the more we choose life-enhancing coping behaviors instead.

I’m obviously very passionate about this…it’s one of those, “been there, done that, still doing that…having to fight for recovery at times to stay in control…and not to get too far out of control” type of things for me. I believe that when we are in recovery…we remain “works in progress.” Sometimes it’s a daily battle and sometimes, an occasional battle. We’re emotional critters and creatures of habit…and when we hurt or are feeling desperate and “out-of-control”…we tend to fall back into old patterns of relief-seeking behaviors…or to certainly think about doing them!

We’re emotional critters and creatures of habit…and when we hurt or are feeling desperate and “out-of-control”…we tend to fall back into old patterns of relief-seeking behavior…or to certainly think about doing them!”

And you know the more we think about doing them…the more likely we are to finally do them. That’s because the tension is building…we want…and we won’t allow ourselves to have…and we want…we tell ourselves “NO”…and we want…and we’re tired of the pain, problems, tension, and frustration…and we become desperate for relief and peace…that we finally do what we keep trying not to do…and we relapse. Have you “been there, done that?” Have you been through this struggle? It’s a battle of the minds, Emotional Mind vs. Rational Mind and Wise Mind. It’s a battle of wills…willingness vs. willfulness. Which recovery skills do you use to get through the “fixing to relapse” moment? Do you still have these moments?

I believe that one of our major recovery tasks is to learn ways to keep our Emotional Mind in control and to tame our Emotional Mind when it is getting out-of-control. That’s my biggest recovery task…and it’s always a battle of the mind states and a battle of will. Sometimes, I grow tired of the battle and dealing with my emotional, willful self. At those tired, weak moments, I remind myself….”Mel, what do you want…peace and stability or chaos and pain?” Isn’t it horrible that you have to parent yourself even when you’re a grown-up!?

Link to the LinkedIn discussion

Link to Elisabeth’s book:  “Good Things, Emotional Healing Journal: Addiction on Amazon

Link to Elisabeth’s blog

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!

A Partial Relapse or a Full Relapse – Using Rational Mind and Wise Mind to Tame an Out-of-Control Emotional Mind (A DBT-CBT Workbook Perspective)

The following is “Pete’s Story” – an excerpt from the DBT-CBT Out-of-Control Workbook which highlights a “real life” relapse experience.  This relapse is processed using principles and concepts from the DBT-CBT Recovery Program, especially the three mind states of DBT.  It’s an example of DBT-CBT “In Action.”  The content for this post is the opening for Chapter 7, the “Rational Mind” chapter of the workbook.  As it is from Chapter 7, it refers to things discussed in Chapters 1-6.  So, if you feel a little lost reading it…that’s why!

Chapter 7 – RATIONAL MIND

We’ve been working with Rational Mind (1) throughout this book, so you’re somewhat familiar with this mind state. Rational Mind is the part of us that processes life in a logical, legalistic, fact-driven, reality-oriented, and cut n’ dry manner. In other words, Rational Mind uses reasoning, it respects rules, it’s guided by truth, it deals with how things really are, and it’s the calm, cool, intellectual, and unemotional part of us!

Emotional Mind is driven by how WE SEE AND EXPERIENCE the world while Rational Mind is driven by how THE WORLD REALLY IS!

The Purpose of Rational Mind

A Recovery Goal is PREVENTION of Destructive Emotion-Driven Behavior. We need to STOP OURSELVES before we do what we really feel like doing!
Rational Mind helps us to gain control before things get Out-of-Control.

When we’re in a troubling Emotional Mind state, the first step for gaining control is Mindfulness. We need to be aware of what’s going on in Emotional Mind. We need to be Mindful of our Raw Emotions, Emotion-Driven Thoughts, and our desired Emotion-Driven Behavior. This includes awareness of our feelings, the thoughts racing through our mind, and what we’re thinking about doing! Once we become aware of what’s going on in Emotional Mind, we need to TURN ON RATIONAL MIND to look at our situation logically and realistically.

Rational Mind helps us to know what is true and factual.
It helps us to perceive the reality of our situations and our life.
The reality of Rational Mind is generally quite different from the picture Emotional Mind paints!

Rational Mind helps us to understand THE BIG PICTURE OF THE SITUATION and the TRUTH about what’s going on. This helps us to challenge our Emotion-Driven Thoughts and to get our emotions MORE IN LINE with the REALITY of the situation. This REDUCES our emotional distress because we FOCUS on the HERE-AND-NOW situation RATHER THAN EVERYTHING that has EVER HAPPENED to us.

Rational Mind also considers the Big Picture of Our Life and REMINDS us of the CONSEQUENCES we’ll SUFFER if we ACT ON destructive Emotion-Driven impulses. WHEN we’re USING Rational Mind to deal with what’s going on in Emotional Mind, WISE MIND TURNS ON and BRINGS US to a GAME PLAN for effectively dealing with our situation. Our Recovery Goal is to PARTICIPATE EFFECTIVELY in our life… so we’re MANAGING and DEALING WITH our problems RATHER THAN CAUSING OURSELVES MORE PROBLEMS!

APPLICATION: The Meeting of the Minds

The following story, “Pete’s Story,” is a good example of how the three Mind States work together in real life.

Pete’s Story

Pete has a lot of stress and family conflict caused by his responses to life. His family has allowed him to stay in their garage apartment “for the last time.” His probation requires him to be employed. He doesn’t have a good work history so it took a while to find a job. He just bought a used car and now has visitation with his kids because he’s paying child support. Things are pretty good in his life… though not the greatest. His boss accused him of doing something he didn’t do. He blew up and walked off the job. He went to an old hangout and started drinking again and snorted some coke. Thoughts began churning in his mind. He is very worried and is thinking the worst, “My family is going to kick me out and I’ll be homeless again. I’ll lose my car without income and I’ll lose visits with my kids. If I get called for a UA (2), it’ll be dirty and my probation will get revoked (3)…especially since I’m now unemployed. Then I won’t see my kids for a long time.” He’s very upset with himself and thinks, “I am such a failure. I screw everything up. My family will NEVER let me hear the end of this. I should just kill myself. I can’t handle all this crap again.” Thoughts are racing through his mind. His emotions intensify and he becomes more and more upset. He begins to panic. He is desperate for a way out and considers going back to live with his ex-girlfriend. He’s afraid of doing that because she still uses drugs. He panics even more and all he can think about is killing himself. He ruminates about this stuff for hours and hours. It’s now 3AM and he’s worried about going home…so late…so upset…and so messed up.

Does Pete’s story seem like Real Life or does it seem like an exaggeration to make a good story? _____________________________________________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________________________

Have you been in a state like this before about a lost job or some other major problem? If so, describe how your experience is similar to his. ________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________________

The quality of our life comes down to two choices.
We can LIVE IN Emotional Mind and ALLOW our life to fall apart
OR we can TURN ON Rational Mind and Wise Mind
to get a Game Plan for dealing with our problems.
The choice is to stay on the life-enhancing Recovery Path
or to go the way of Relapse Route.

SKILL BUILDER: Pete’s State of Mind

Re-read Pete’s story and UNDERLINE the parts that describe what’s going on in his Emotional Mind. Put a BOX around the parts that are driven by Rational Mind.

You probably had no trouble identifying what was going on in Emotional Mind. You may have had some trouble deciding if his statements about getting kicked out of his apartment, being homeless…and losing his car, probation, and visits with his kids were Rational Mind or Emotional Mind.

What did you decide? Explain what you based your decision on? ________________________________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________________________________

When he went to the bar, he was upset.
then he began drinking and drugging,
then he became hopeless, desperate, and PANICKED.

Mindfulness of the consequences suggests he was in Rational Mind. Some think he was in Emotional Mind because it seemed like he was catastrophizing4 how bad things could get. However, given his life situation, his worries WERE based on truth and reality!

A reason to suspect he was Big-Time in Emotional Mind is…WISE MIND DIDN’T TURN ON and OFFER LIFE-ENHANCING SOLUTIONS. All he did was ruminate for hours about consequences and finding a way out…NOT A WAY THROUGH. He was panicking! All the COCAINE and ALCOHOL did was PUSH HIM DEEPER and DEEPER into Emotional Mind…and farther and farther away from Rational Mind and Wise Mind. He couldn’t think straight. The MORE he ruminated, drank, and snorted, the MORE DEPRESSED, ANXIOUS, WORRIED, and PARANOID he became.

In order to think straight,
we’ve got to be straight!

The Big Picture of Pete’s Story suggests he was Big-Time in Emotional Mind. He had SOME Rational Mind going on…but, not much. He was AWARE of the consequences of losing his job, he KNEW he should not return to his ex, and he KNEW his behavior would cause family problems. He was probably 80%-20% Emotional Mind – Rational Mind. Wise Mind flickered on and encouraged him NOT to call his ex. Not having that option…and having more time to drink and snort, he panicked even more…and came to believe that suicide was his best option.

Isn’t it odd how we can go from bad to worse…
and we begin to think the worst option is the best?

Given Pete’s story IS Real Life, how do you think this part of his story ends? _______________________________________________________________________________________
_______________________________________________________________________________________

He’ll either do something MORE DESTRUCTIVE, like a suicide attempt, driving drunk, or a full-blown relapse OR he’ll do something LIFE-ENHANCING like staying safe and sleeping it off in the car and TURNING ON Rational Mind WHEN HE COMES TO…TO GET HIS LIFE BACK IN ORDER.

Pete’s story tells about the “Something That Happens” on the Recovery Path and the two choices we have. Pete CHOSE the RELAPSE ROUTE in the Heat-of-the-Moment. HOWEVER, he DOESN’T HAVE TO stay on that path. He can call for help at 3AM or crawl into his car and sleep it off.

SKILL BUILDER: How to Get Control Once We’ve Lost Control

Let’s suppose he chose the Recovery Path at 3AM.  When he comes to and is able to shake off the cobwebs later that day, what might Rational Mind say to him? ____________________________________________________________________________
____________________________________________________________________________

Rational Mind might lead him to think,

“I blew up and walked off the job and I drank and used coke last night. I was scared. I freaked out…but this DOESN’T HAVE TO BE the end of the world. It’s time for DAMAGE CONTROL. MY PRIORITY RIGHT NOW is to get a job. Whether it’s my old job back or a new one…I need to act fast! No doubt my folks know Something Happened because I didn’t come home last night and I’m home now when I’m supposed to be at work. I need a plan for dealing with them, too, so I don’t lose housing.”

At this point, Emotional Mind will probably rear up with all kinds of self-defeating thoughts and feelings. Pete MUST TURN ON Rational Mind to Fight for his peace and stability.  He cannot ALLOW Emotional Mind to control the course of his life.   When a destructive thought comes up, Pete needs to remind himself that HIS NUMBER ONE PRIORITY is to STAY ON the RECOVERY PATH and that HE CAN AND WILL HANDLE this situation. He needs to tell himself that he STRUCK OUT last night, but there’s still MORE INNINGS in the game. He’ll have to challenge the destructive Emotion-Driven Thoughts AS THEY COME UP and REMAIN FOCUSED on TRUTH, REALITY, DAMAGE CONTROL, and PROBLEM-SOLVING.

At this point, Wise Mind will kick in to help him with a plan of action. What might Wise Mind suggest? ______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________

Wise Mind might suggest he visit his boss to apologize for blowing up and to ask for his job back. Wise Mind might suggest he TRY to assure his boss he didn’t do what he was accused of doing. Wise Mind would likely remind him if “Plan A” doesn’t work, he could apply for dozens of other jobs until he gets one…and that IT’S NO TIME TO BE PICKY! Wise Mind might encourage him to explain the situation to his parents…to let them know HE SLIPPED…but was BACK ON the RECOVERY PATH. If needed, he could tell them he’ll have a job quickly, REGARDLESS OF WHAT HE HAD TO DO. Wise Mind would likely inform him that it’s unlikely he’ll get called for a UA over the next few days and to pray on that! If he did get called for one, Wise Mind might suggest telling his probation officer what happened and the POSITIVE WAY HE’S DEALING WITH IT. Wise Mind would have MANY DAMAGE CONTROL and PROBLEM-SOLVING IDEAS for GETTING RECOVERY BACK ON TRACK!

When we mess up, we don’t give up.
We STAY IN the game even if it’s our toughest inning ever.

If at the end of the next day, he didn’t get his job back and he didn’t get a new one, Emotional Mind could easily start the self-defeating rumination and worry process. What could he do to help himself if this starts up? ________________________________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________________________________

Rather than spending days worrying about a catastrophe happening, Wise Mind would inform him that he’d be BETTER OFF PREVENTING ONE by focusing on a Game Plan! Wise Mind would strongly encourage him to chill-out and focus on Damage Control, problem-solving, and the use of Life-Enhancing Coping Behaviors (5) to avoid destructive worry.

Through Rational Mind, he could TAKE NOTE of the PRODUCTIVE things he’s done the last two days INCLUDING his MAJOR SUCCESS with QUICKLY GETTING BACK ON THE RECOVERY PATH and preventing a full-blown relapse. He could LIST HIS GOALS for the next day and a PLAN OF ACTION for the rest of the week. Since money is tight, he could WORK OUT A PLAN for paying what HAS TO BE paid. He could DISTRACT himself with POSITIVE ACTIVITIES (support group meetings like AA, helping his family prepare a meal, visiting with a recovery friend, etc.). He could SEEK TEMPORARY WORK cleaning yards, painting his parents home, and whatever else he can come up with to earn money and to KEEP HIS MIND BUSY. He could even talk with businesses about hiring him for a day or two to do “odd jobs.”

This WORK-UP of Pete’s story shows how RATIONAL MIND helps to CONTROL the INTENSITY and NEGATIVITY of an UPSET EMOTIONAL MIND! Rational Mind DOESN’T BUY INTO a “I’m a total screw-up. This is going to ruin everything. I can’t deal with it. I should kill myself.” mentality. Rational Mind CHALLENGES panic and negativity by looking at the situation in a calm, NON-EMOTIONAL, realistic, logical, and truthful manner. In the upcoming sections, we’ll look at some common Emotional Mind experiences from the viewpoint of Rational Mind. We’ll see how Rational Mind TAKES the POWER and NEGATIVITY OUT OF a destructive emotional experience.

Rational Mind tames what comes out of Emotional Mind.
Rational Mind pulls on the reins and helps to get control
of what is going Out-of-Control.

Footnotes

1- Dr. Linehan calls this mind state “Reasonable Mind.” On page 65 of her Skills Training Manual, she states, “This is your rational, thinking, logical mind. It is the part of you that plans and evaluates things logically. It is your cool part.”
2- UA – urinalysis – a urine test to check for drugs or alcohol.
3- Probation revoked – to lose the privilege of being on probation. Folks have to serve their sentence in jail if their probation is revoked.
4- Catastrophizing – (cuh-tah-stro-fi-zing) –when we’re focusing on the very worst things that could happen. It’s a form of the word, catastrophe – (cuh-tah-stro-fee).
5- Being busy with problem-solving…and working towards the solution is a powerful coping tool. Getting a newspaper and a phone book and making a list of jobs to apply for and businesses to call and visit is solution-focused. Visiting the employment agency and ironing a decent set of clothes for job hunting is very constructive, too!

Can You Lose Weight By Diet Alone…Or Do You Have To Exercise?

I have LOST 150 POUNDS WITHOUT EXERCISING! I’ve lost weight slowly over the past four years. I lost about 5 pounds a month for the first year…about 3 pounds a month for the next two years…and now I’m losing 0-2 pounds a month. I’ve lost about 13 pounds during the last 12 months.

My ideal body weight is in the range of 105 to 135 and I’m averaging about 125 now. It’s harder to lose weight now and it takes a whole lotta Mindfulness and determination to maintain my weight and to lose any weight.

I was modestly active most of my life, but the last 15 years has been high work, two kids, and little else…and mostly desk time. When I was planning how I would diet, I did not want to add exercise to my lifestyle because I realized it was VERY unlikely that I would maintain that lifestyle for any length of time. I felt it was a set up for failure…start slipping with exercise…start feeling bad about myself…and here I go…relapse fixin’ to happen! I chose to focus on diet alone and obviously this has worked very well for me.

I knew how to do “diet” because to maintain normal body weight for the first 30 years of my life, I had to keep calories low…so, I already had those skills. So, I chose to focus on what I would have the highest likelihood of success with…and avoided anything I felt could increase the likelihood of failure. I sat down and completed a DBT-CBT Therapy Workbook “Game Plan” for weight loss.

I included every diet tip I could think of and I reflected on how I used to do things when my weight was low. I decided I would drink a lot of water, not starve myself, eat breakfast to get my metabolism going for the day, eat what I was REALLY craving…and work to balance things out, count calories, eat something before leaving work so I wouldn’t arrive home starving to death, avoid food fests, avoid temptation, do the chocolate binge and get rid of the leftovers…etc.

Overall, the first four years of the diet were fairly easy, but now I’m struggling. I smoked for the last 18 months through June 2009 – recently quit…and it’s been harder to keep calories low. Weight is still good, but the struggle is certainly there. It’s not easy anymore! I was always aware that as I got my weight down, I’d probably begin to exercise so I would look better…well, I think it is time to exercise so I’ll look better, but the biggest impetus is to be able to eat about 100 calories more per day!

I’ve STARTED to exercise twice during the last year…but haven’t maintained it for more than a week at a time! Once I got that shoulder blade muscle cramping thing…the one with horrible pain that just doesn’t go away…and you can’t even breathe or move for awhile. The last time, I started to get sick…was exhausted…and didn’t want to stress my body! I am going to try to do a little at a time…not get so excited and ambitious and increase the amount or intensity so fast…just going to try to have some balance! Me, balance….ha! But, I’m going to try so I don’t sabotage myself AGAIN!!!!!

Why Am I Eating More and Gaining Weight: Using DBT-CBT Principles to Become Mindful of Mindless Eating

I’ve gone through a very hard time in recent months with my “diet”…or better said, “my eating plan.” My positive eating patterns had become a habit and little emotional energy was invested in the process. I had peace and stability in this area of life. People would ask, “Isn’t it hard to stay on a diet?” No, it really wasn’t because I HAD developed good eating habits…and eating in this manner was natural for me. It was more of a lifestyle than a diet.

But, SOMETHING HAPPENED and these past few months became the most trying time during my four year diet. Not sure what happened, but somehow things got Out-of-Control. I struggled through…and regained fairly good control. Naturally, I’ve been reflecting on WHAT HAPPENED…because I don’t want to let this lifestyle slip through my fingers and for things to get out of hand! I don’t want to get fat again…I don’t want to start the weight gain cycle…AGAIN.

Here’s some things I have thought about. I FINALLY quit smoking in June after 6 attempts this year! Quitting smoking leads to increased eating because my hands and mouth aren’t busy…and reduced metabolism because I’m not loaded with nicotine…HELLO WEIGHT GAIN…and increased appetite!

Another thing that has changed in the last couple of months is that I started taking a daily multivitamin. Now, I haven’t studied recently, but from what I remember, vitamins increase appetite. Not sure why that happens…or if that’s really true. Just some tidbit of information I picked up and think is true.

Another thing…I began living on fruit…fruit was my mainstay…the largest source of calories per day. I loved the fruit diet! However, something was going on and I was craving sweets more…like CHOCOLATE! I was eating the Snickers protein bars…Mmmmm good…however, they are 290 calories each. When I seek to keep calories below 1300 or so a day…that adds up F-A-S-T!!!!

So, I’ve stopped eating fruit…and this has led to a major decrease in the sweet munchies. I’m thinking the sugar in the fruit did something to increase my appetite for SUGAR! In my four years of dieting, I would chocolate binge about once every 4-6 weeks…and while on the fruit diet, the craving for CHOCOLATE was STRONG…and something I gave in to. I believe in “have a craving…satiate it and go on with life.” That has worked very well for me…because I’d eat 800 calories of chocolate…eat less dinner or no dinner…and suffer little net gain in calories that day…and little effect on the monthly average…and little effect on my weight…until recent months!

Another thing that happened in July…is that an overwhelming workload greatly increased…and the type of stress changed…from internal pressure to get the job done…to external pressure…like performance counseling…and a 30-day deadline! I expect the extra stress and the type of distress affected me, too.
Anyways, lots of changes…radical physiological and psycho-emotional changes (nicotine withdrawal and loss, diet change with increased fructose and then refined sugar…and EMOTIONAL STRESS from work…and stress from my daily diet spiraling out of control! You know, I’m sure there are other factors too…that I’m not currently aware of…but, those are the biggest ones on my mind right now!!!! You know…I may have gotten cocky too…had my weight down real good…had this diet thing “down to a science”…and then…slacked off a bit!

Anyways, things have gone fairly well the last 3-4 weeks…actually regained some semblance of peace and stability in my eating. Revisited the 124-125 range…the size 7’s fit again…(size 9 slim fits are sized like a 7!). Went out of town a few days…and did alright. Not a major pig out…ate some restaurant food, but did well with that. Got favorite foods and ate about half. Some extra calories…but nothing Out-of-Control! Back to work tomorrow, will tighten up again…and go on with life. Average calories for October was in the normal range for me…similar to the last 4 years…so,, that’s good!

The last couple of posts in October note what I did to try to get control, so I don’t want to restate EVERYTHING here…cuz I can’t remember and I’m too tired to go back and check!!!! I am Mindful right now that I greatly increased Mindfulness of my eating plan…by reminding myself of my goal (stability in eating, weight management, not get fat again!), counting calories all day so I’m not engaging in mindless eating and CALORIE SHOCK at the end of the day when entering data in the Excel file, controlled portions and food selection (toting certain foods to work and not toting others…and choosing how much to bring, deciding what I’d eat when I got home, eating a little something before I leave work so I don’t go home STARVING TO DEATH…and ready to scarf everything in sight), and temptation management (telling family about my struggle and how to help…DON’T BUY FATTENING FOOD AT THE STORE…and certainly don’t bring it in and let me see it…AND me not buying fattening foods at the store…the ones that are MY favorites!) So, I went back to my early days of dieting…what I did then that worked best for me…to attempt to regain control over my eating.

Another thing I considered is that my weight is low…calorie needs are lower than the early days of dieting…I may be reaching my low…and this may be as low as things naturally go…and I may need to revise MY goal to go lower…and just focus on maintaining this weight…that it may be unreasonable to push myself to lose more. So, with all this in mind…I’m TRYING to be Mindful and to approach this diet thing with Rational Mind and Wise Mind…because Emotional Mind is eating me up!

The Best Crash Diets are Crash n’ Burn Diets – An Excerpt from the DBT CBT Therapy Workbook

Crash n’ Burn Dieting

Why do you think a “crash diet” 1 is an Emotional Mind behavior?
________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________

We’ve all heard of these diets and most of us have done them! We see many advertised on magazine covers, “Lose 10 pounds in 10 days with the Grapefruit Diet!” Some have strict menu plans. Many limit food choices. We may be able to eat as much as we want…but ONLY lean meat and vegetables…or boiled chicken and rice all day! Consider how limited a high protein – low carbohydrate diet is. One reason these diets fail is they don’t allow us to eat our favorite foods…and WE’RE NOT GOING TO STAY ON A DIET LIKE THAT…FOR VERY LONG!

Crash diets are driven by Emotional Mind because we’re WILLING to do something DESPERATE to lose weight QUICK. We’re IMPATIENT. We want IMMEDIATE RESULTS. We DON’T WANT TO WAIT to lose weight in a REASONABLE and HEALTHY way…even though WE KNOW it’s the only way to lose weight and keep it off! We’re being IRRATIONAL! We’ve deluded 2 ourselves! We’re believing a LIE. SOMEHOW WE BELIEVE THIS CRAZY DIET WILL WORK…that we’ll suddenly develop skills to control our eating…that we’ll give up most or all of our favorite foods…and just eat certain foods. REALLY, IF WE HAD ALL THIS WILLPOWER, why would we need a crazy diet? Why wouldn’t we just do a “normal diet” and eat like a slender person? They eat all kinds of things…just smaller portions!

Just like other Destructive Coping Behaviors, we want IMMEDIATE RELIEF…for our long-term weight problem. So, we do something desperate to lose weight FAST!

The problem with a crash diet is it’s SO UNREASONABLE and STRICT we WON’T STAY ON IT the rest of our life! When we GET OFF the diet, we return to our old eating habits. We GAIN the weight back…AND THEN SOME! That’s because we’ve been starving our body and depriving it of what it needs to function. Our brain sends out “I’M STARVING TO DEATH” signals that tell our body to PROTECT ITSELF FROM DYING. So, our metabolism 3 slows, we BURN FEWER CALORIES, and fat stores up for future famines. 4 At the same time, our BRAIN POUNDS on us to EAT MORE to replenish 5 our body. Finally, we GIVE IN TO TEMPTATION and the demands of our brain and body and we do a ROYAL PIG-OUT! Then we FEEL HORRIBLE physically and emotionally. We’re bloated, sick, disappointed, and ashamed. WE FEEL LIKE A FAILURE. Weight loss seems hopeless, so, we GIVE UP on the diet. WE GAIN ALL OUR WEIGHT BACK…AND THEN SOME!

We’re willing TO TRY to defy 6 the laws of nature to lose a ton of weight fast! A friend once said, “I’ve given up on dieting. Every time I go on a diet, I end up gaining 10 pounds!” After we starve ourselves, our brain pushes us to gain extra weight so our body is prepared for the next famine!

What kind of diet would Rational Mind suggest? ________________
___________________________________________________
___________________________________________________

Rational Mind would encourage us to EAT THINGS WE LIKE, BUT LESS! Then our stomach will shrink and we’ll REDUCE CALORIES. We’ll get in the HABIT of eating “SKINNY PERSON PORTIONS” 7 and we’ll lose weight. Because we’re still getting our favorite foods, we’re less likely to get tired of this “eating plan!” It’ll become A WAY OF LIFE…that we can LIVE WITH for the rest of our life. We’ll STAY ON IT, LOSE WEIGHT, and KEEP IT OFF!

We’ve all heard THE BEST WAY to lose weight is to do it SLOWLY! If we’re not in a major weight gain cycle 8 and we cut our food intake by one-fourth, we may lose 2-3 pounds a month. That’s 24-36 pounds a year and 48-72 in two years! If we cut our intake in half, we may lose 4-5 pounds a month or 48-60 a year and 96-120 in two years! That’s a lot…and we can KEEP IT OFF if we KEEP IT UP! A “three-fourths” or “halves” diet will serve us MUCH BETTER over time than a “crash n’ burn” diet!

I’d rather lose 25 pounds a year by eating reasonably than gaining 10 pounds with a crash diet!

——————————
Notes:
1. A crash diet is very strict and is designed for FAST weight loss.
2. Deluded – (duh-lew-did) – talked ourselves or others into believing something that’s not true.
3. Metabolism – (met-tab-oh-liz-em) – the process of breaking down the food we eat.
4. Famines – (fah-men’s) – times when there’s little or no food in a country or region.
5. Replenish – (ree-plin-ish) – to restore and fill back up!
6. Defy – (dee-fi) – to go against or to challenge.
7. Ever notice how skinny people eat? They eat many of the same foods as an overweight person…just smaller portions. We had a store and I’d go there after my hospital job. I was always shocked to find half a bag of chips or half a candy bar left on the desk. I could never understand why the employee didn’t eat it ALL! Obviously, their eating habits were very different from mine! They’d eat half when I’d eat two!
8. If we‘re on a major weight gain cycle, we’ll have to cut down even more to get our daily calories in the range for losing weight. These numbers are estimates based on someone who’s maintaining their weight or is only gaining a few pounds a year.