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Posted by on in Drug Addiction

I'm sure that many of you can relate to coincidences like when you learn about a new word, you find that you hear it more, but when in reality it's just something new that has come into your awareness, it was really there all along.  This is of course something that happens to me often, but has certainly been my experience since I have been writing this blog, as it is now always in my awareness to look for opportunities for what to discuss next and they just keep popping into my life!

Working in the addiction field, and the job I have in particular, keeps me very focused but also very isolated.  Working in addiction also creates a sort of bubble, being that my clients are all trying to get out of their active addiction, my co-workers are all in recovery, and the doctors are addictionologists.  I had been in California for four or five years and didn’t realize that I was protecting myself in a way, by not branching out of my comfort zone.  So it wasn’t until about two years ago, that I started to go out to new places and interact with new people that have never struggled with an addiction.  (People that experience temporary stress instead of chronic anxiety are still a wonder to me!)

The benefit, however, of the bubble realization was that all of that prep work that I had been doing (working with a sponsor, doing the steps, going to multiple types of therapy to figure out the core issues as to why I was using inhalants, then working on those core issues) was in preparation for returning to the real world and all its challenges and this time having a more positive impact, on myself and on those around me, and it was time to use them!  The tools I have learned (especially emotional regulation, coping skills, and trigger identification) and the resources I have developed have been crucial in my relapse prevention, because life sure does throw me some curveballs and when I did come out of hiding, I found that some of my wreckage from my past was still there waiting for me.  I am definitely grateful that I was given the opportunity to have a second chance, to get to be the same person, but a better version.  By doing the footwork, it allows me to look at the same situations but have different reactions and therefore different outcomes than I would have in the past.

I feel that in order to be effective in communicating with people who are also struggling and/or looking for solutions or education, I need to write about things that truly affect me emotionally, because if what I'm writing doesn't induce some sort of feelings for me, how could it in someone else?  So full disclosure in the hopes that someone can relate and hopefully allowing me to be of service.

The reason that the ability to have different reactions that produce different and better outcomes is on my mind is due to some events that occurred in my week.  I felt discouraged this week for two reasons, and I feel like they have happened while I have volunteered to write this blog for a reason.  I am a person that falls victim to a certain type of mental trap, where your brain immediately jumps into negative thinking or disaster mode when you hear certain things that are not ideal.  In the treatment facilities I work with, we refer to it as addict brain.

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Tagged in: 10th tradition 12 step 12 step recovery AA abstinence accurate self-appraisal action program action steps addict addiction addiction help addiction memoir addiction recovery Addiction Specialist addictive behavior addicts affected affirmations Alcoholics Anonymous answers anxiety anxiety and recovery ask for help Asking for help attitude of gratitude awareness balance being a loving mirror being a loving person being of service Big Book Caring for those who still suffer co-addiction co-occurring disorder compassion courage dealing with a using loved one depression discomfort drug abuse drug addiction emotional management emotional maturity emotional regulation emotional sobriety emotions faith family recovery fear first step goal setting goals gratitude gratitude journey Guest Blogger guilt healing HELPING OTHERS higher self inadequacy inner satisfaction intervention inventory letting go Life Challenges life on life's terms literature memoir mental health mindfulness mindfulness and recovery Motivation My Story openness positive energy program of recovery recovery recovery talk relapse prevention Resilience right action right intention self care Self Love self-compassion self-confidence self-esteem self-help self-honesty serenity shame sobriety sponsor stepwork struggle substance abuse suffering suffering addicts Support surrender tenth tradition thinking thinking errors Trying to save a Life turn it over twelve step recovery twelve steps Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions twelve steps of aa twelve traditions twelve traditions of aa why i used drugs
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Posted by on in Alcoholism

Over the last 12 years, I've done a lot of self-study about what kept me in lock step with the powerful disease of addiction. I've peeled myself back, layer by layer, to unveil the root causes for this.

One of the most profound things I uncovered during that investigation was how the toxic phrase “I should know better” directed my life.

Growing up, I heard, " Honestly, Alison you really should know better” on a rather regular basis. This phrase was so ingrained into my head that as I grew older, if I found myself in a bad spot, within a second I’d think, “Ugh! I should have known better!”

For the average person, a reflection like that is nothing more than a casual check-in.

Not so for someone who lived for decades underneath the addictive, obsessive diseases of alcoholism and an eating disorder. For someone like me, that statement is monumentally damaging.

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Posted by on in Alcoholism

When I celebrated my 12 year sobriety anniversary with my home group yesterday, I mentioned the fact that on New Year ever New Year's Eve, I always write down intentions for the upcoming year. Increase A member of the group commented, "I don't like to make resolutions. I take my recovery one day at a time."  I paused to reflect on what both of us stated and feel that semantics sometimes confuse the message. 

To clarify, when I state that I write out intentions for the New Year, I simply mean that I construct in my mind and on paper how I want to grow spiritually in the following year. This inventory is more of a grand scale 10th step since I reflect on my good and bad behavior over the prior year and imagine how I can act my way into greater freedom, connection and fulfillment in the following year. 

Every person who is successful in an endeavor will tell you that it is important to have a clear idea of what you want and how you plan to achieve it if you are to succeed. An important part of goal setting is to be realistic. Realistic goals can be hard for addicts in recovery.  Due to our overwhelming guilt or sloth or perfectionism, we can set goals that are either way too lofty or impossible.  This is why I like to review my intentions with my sponsor or someone else in my support group. In this way, I gain a sense of how healthy my intentions are from someone who is not emotionally attached. 

I set out to achieve those goals ONE DAY AT A TIME.  I do the best I can do for the day and I slowly act my way into progress toward my goals.  The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions of AA say a few things about  creating a plan for successful sobriety and growth.  First, "we prepare ourselves for the adventure of a new life." Second, "Many AA's go in for annual or semiannual housecleanings." Third, we look to sponsors or spiritual advisors to acquire the habit of "accurate self-appraisal." And, lastly, "there's nothing the matter with constructive imagination; all sound achievement rests upon it. No man can build a house until he first envisions a plan for it."

Whether its to begin the New Year, the path of sobriety or just another sober day in AA, experience tells me "it helps to envision our spiritual objective before we try to move toward it."

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