Wednesday, August 29, 2012


The other day, I had this skype client who out of the blue asked me what is wellness? I thought  about it, and continued to think about it. I then asked the client what he thought? He said maintaining. Then I said that is a awesome answer.  Wellness is an ongoing process of maintaining physical, mental and emotional well being. With that said, wellness needs to start with self. Self needs to understand you take a pro-active approach to health. Learning to take care of yourself in a healthy way. When self is able to implement this approach, one can get a higher quality of life. A higher quality of life in this writers opinion will reflect the overall wellness of self. For instance, if you are taking care of your physical health by exercising, and eating healthy you will feel better. The mental side of this wellness suggests you can become more in tune to your own thoughts. Learning to control your thoughts and enjoying the moment. Being able to identify what your challenges are and working through them. This will be productive in your work and performance. The emotional well being of self is something that wellness helps create a positive energy force. You are able to use this force of energy in allowing positive things to happen while at the same you are letting the negative things go. Wellness is very important for self to engage, however; wellness will not work if your not having fun doing it. That is the key. Maintaining as my client suggested is half the battle, the other half is making your own wellness fun. When your life is at it's best, I guarantee your self is balanced, a higher power is present, and you are learning how to have fun in a healthy way. How is your wellness? Stay in your health, stay in the moment.

Monday, August 20, 2012

1 year to "live" exercise

We use this one year to live exercise with all our clients. This exercise you may recognize from previous treatment settings or other mental health support systems. Reclaiming reality starts with a clear sense of our limitations as human beings. But we live in a culture that denies these limitations at times. We are constantly invited to overextend ourselves- for instance, to spend more then we earn, (ala gambling addiction) work more than we need to, (ala self-esteem issues) or eat more then we should (ala eating addictions). We live as if there is no end. Take some time right now, and see how you answer these questions. This powerful exercise can show you your own limitations by picturing your own death. Looking at death provides vital perspectives about what gives your life meaning! What priorities you are ignoring and who or what your higher power is? Ok, imagine you are in your physician's office. What does it look like, smell like, and feel like? Your doctor shares the results of the tests that are in. You have a year to live, reflect for a moment? As you start to adjust to dying, do you change your life? Stop working? Do something different? You begin to make changes for self. Do you travel, or wish to take a trip? Who do you take with you? Perhaps, you want to try something you have never done before. What are some of these activities? Self begins to look at all the "unfinished" things that we have not completed. Will you complete them? What unfinished projects do you need to do before your die? Could making amends to people be one of your unfinished projects? Self has the power to say, "I'm sorry, or I love you".  Picture yourself saying the things you need to say before your time is up. Now the time line is here. You have three months before you die, your health is going, while you can still function, what are you doing, who is with you? Take your time with these questions, it is important you are honest and being real with self. Now, it's a matter of weeks before you pass, where do you go? Do you want to die in your home, a lake, mountains, where do you spend the last days? As you think over the events of the last year of your life, what were the most significant for you? What did you make worth while? Now as you complete this exercise, think about this- your are ALIVE, very much ALIVE, and these events you can create for self! Self has the ability to share feelings, and get in touch with your own grief and losses in your life. Do not avoid the feeling, you have the power to work through it. Use this exercise to make changes in your life, some new things you would try, and how you complete the unfinished things in your life. Find your spiritual connection, your own higher power! Learn about your current interpersonal relationships, and work on re-building them! Thinking about death may help you find what is real in your life and what is important to self. Addicts need to understand how they can balance, focus, and acquire self-responsibility. Denial and delusion we want to work on. Stay in your health, stay in the moment.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Learning to say no means yes!

One of the hardest things in recovery that people seem to struggle with is being able to say no! Addicts like to be in control, my way or the high way, right? When you were in your addiction, there was no anything, you said yes to all types of addictive behavior. You thought you were unstoppable, and everything you wanted to do was never about saying no! That was then my friends, this is now. Every day you say no to unhealthy behavior, and are able resist the urges and cravings is a yes! When you let the negative thoughts go, and focus on the positive you are really saying no to impulsive behavior and yes to being in control. That is a feeling that you want to validate self with. I am strong enough to say no, and feel good about that decision. Life is about choices. You have the choice to say no to destructive behavior that does not, will not, and did not let you make positive choices. When you are in your health, and staying in the moment, you are able to say no to old behavior and yes to recognizing how strong self is when struggle is present. You will always struggle in life, but it can be healthy struggle. Remember, we all struggled when we were in our addiction cycle, but we were unable to struggle in a healthy way due to not being able to say no, right? Our thoughts at that time were based on not being able to slow down, and work through our unmet needs. We said yes to anything that could fuel our addiction. At that time, there were no consequences that we were able to surmise do to our fantasy thinking that everything would be ok if we could just continue our addiction cycle. The positive of being able to say no is the yes to our new recovery. Self is stronger, learning how to balance our thoughts and behaviors with positive energy. Our higher power is the yes in our life. Having fun means saying no to our urges and cravings! Stay in your health, stay in the moment.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Finding the positive

One of the most difficult things that new clients appear to struggle with is being able to find the positive in their life at this moment. Regardless of your situation, there is still positive energy to be found. Self does not benefit from holding on to negative energy from their past or keeping negative thoughts in their head on a daily basis. The negative can act as a spark to fuel your addiction cycle. Negative thinking, and thoughts do not help self. Positive energy is there, but, you have to search for it. Honesty and acceptance will help you uncover your positive energy know matter where your thoughts are at this second. Don't focus on how you messed up, or what you did not do, or what you lost. That is the past, it is what it is, right? Focus on how you want to get help, and how you are going to be honest with yourself, while accepting where you are at now! Making things bigger in your head do not allow self to stay in the moment. There are positives in every thought if you are willing to take the time and think about it. Many clients are what I call at the impulsive stage in their addiction. This is where any type of struggle is present, they become impulsive and look to continue their addiction cycle. Self needs to understand that impulsive behavior is risk behavior. You already took risks in the past, look where that got you. The positive is that you understand where that risk, impulsive behavior took you. It is not a surprise. Once you ascertain how your risk and impulsive behavior gets you into trouble, you can look to other positive thoughts that will encourage you to slow down your thoughts! Find the positive in what you know now! Use your brain to help you, instead of creating negative thoughts that lead you back to addiction without thinking things through. Positive energy is everywhere, you have the ability to find it. Learn to struggle in a healthy way where you are controling the thought, and allowing the positive energy to assist you through the urge or craving. You are intelligent, now use that knowledge to focus on the positive. Learn from your past mistakes, by allowing positive thoughts to keep you focused on what you can control. New clients need to slow down their thinking. Stay in your health, stay in the moment.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Second, third, and fourth chances

Year's ago I remember working in a hospital on a rotation gathering clinical hours to finish my course requirements. This particular group that I was shadowing the therapist and psychologist listening to how they ran their program with patients who were in a residential treatment setting. There were a few patients that appeared to be, "repeat customers" as the clinicians told myself and this other student who was shadowing to. I then observed the group format and listened to the repeat customers on how they shared their stories of relapse with the other addicts. Immediately they were pressed by the clinicians running the group that second, third and fourth chances in recovery were bad. I was shocked at the time, many years ago. As I continued with my academics, I began to see other forms of this second, third, and fourth, clients who were in some ways looked down upon and labeled  addicts that were always going to be out of control addicts. That my friends, is not healthy addiction treatment in any capacity. Respectfully, I was ashamed to learn how some clinicians viewed the addicts, or in my case myself. When addicts relapse, it is what it is. Self can learn how to let that thought go, and move on to the next thought. Self has the power, the will power, to make each chance the last chance in obtaining recovery. There is no time table. Obviously, we want all of our clients to achieve recovery, but we understand each chance is a new beginning at life. Here is the moral to this story. I had this client five years ago that would come to my group, in one of the treatment center's that I was contracting out in. He had been with me for four years, relapsing each time he left treatment. Prior to that, he had been in seven other treatment programs. Total treatment programs eleven. I received a text from him last week. The last time I talked with him was last May of 2011. Guess what, he is clean, and is staying in his health. 13 months of clean time. He called me for a reference. He is currently in school and studying to be a drug and alcohol counselor. As I tell you this story, with his permission, the lesson learned is that second, third, and fourth chances at recovery are obtainable. Self will get it! Balance your thoughts and life! Your higher power is not keeping track of how many chances you need at recovery! You can have fun again while being clean! Each day is a gift, each thought is a reward. Stay in your health, stay in the moment.