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Posted by on in Co-dependency

For those of you unfamiliar with the concept of self-love, it is a phrase used to describe positive or compassionate actions, thoughts, and feelings towards ourselves. Although self-love may sound simple, putting it into practice is much more difficult. Many of us are in a pattern or habit of being critical and demanding upon ourselves. We are out of shape, we don’t make enough money, we are not beautiful enough, we are not smart enough, etc. The list of ways we use to belittle or judge ourselves is endless. Sometimes we are our biggest critic and the hardest to please. Maybe guilt and shame from our past looms over us like a black could. We say to ourselves, “I’m an awful parent/spouse/friend”. The degree to which we practice self-love varies, but for most of us it is generally very unfamiliar. In this post I will discuss how to begin practicing self-love and what mental and emotional benefits will follow. It is never too late to learn how to treat yourself with the love and compassion you deserve.

Practicing Self-Love Techniques

One of the best ways to start bringing self-love into your life is to practice positive self-talk. Contrary to thinking negative thoughts about yourself, positive self-talk is telling yourself helpful and rewarding things. If you have been judging or harsh on yourself for years, this can feel fake or forced. Like most things, an attitude of ‘fake it til you make it’ can lead into an authentic practice. It can be as simple as looking in the mirror and naming all the physical qualities that make your beautiful or unique. Tell yourself throughout the day that you are deserving of all the blessings you receive. If you believe in a higher power, think of the love that he/she has for you and how wonderful you must seem to them. Practicing positive self-talk can change the way we think about ourselves, do not underestimate how important the way we talk to ourselves is.

Another simple way to incorporate self-love is to write gratitude lists. A personal gratitude list is different than a gratitude list for your blessings. A self-gratitude list is when you search for and acknowledge all your positive traits, qualities, and aspects. For instance, it could include “I am grateful for my long hair, my sense of humor, my intelligence, my ability to comfort people, etc.” Recognize the great unique things that you were born with or inherited. When you practice noticing and acknowledging your positive qualities, you begin to make your self-worth a reality.

Lastly, self-love can be increased by practicing self-care. This is about taking time out of the day to relieve stress to our body and mind. Self-care of our body can be as simple as keeping ourselves nourished, exercising daily, and getting enough rest each night. Taking care of our mind is equally important. This includes things such as reading your favorite books, listening to your favorite music, or something creative that you enjoy. Self-care is about understanding your body and your mind’s needs and taking actions to meet those needs. Doing this can ease daily stresses and strains. When we make our personal needs a priority, we are enjoying and loving ourselves.

Benefits of Self-Love

When we start to incorporate self-love in our lives the benefits become apparent. Learning to love ourselves can dramatically change the way we feel about ourselves and the way we think others perceive us. We can notice a change in confidence in groups and a sense of calmness in our relationships. We no longer feel unworthy or not good enough. A strong program of self-love can help combat depression and anxiety, as well as reduce mental stress. Having self-love will protect us emotionally when disaster strikes (break-up, an illness, unemployment, etc.). We no longer have to rely upon people for approval and affection. It is empowering to know yourself completely and be proud of the person you are. Begin cultivating self-love today and see how much your life can change.

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Posted by on in Drug Addiction

Inhalant Abuse and Prevention Update:  The Alliance for Consumer Education has put together a site where you can go and make a pledge to talk to your child about the dangers of inhalant use, as Children are 50% less likely to try an inhalant if an adult role model talks to them about the dangers of inhalant abuse.  I have attached the following link for those who might be interested.

http://www.inhalant.org/nipaw/talk-child/

They also have public service announcements related to inhalant abuse from those affected, family members from children who have passed away, as well as former users, like myself.  I did a public service announcement with my mother and sister some years back for the Alliance for Consumer Education and the results of their effectiveness are amazing.

Www.inhalant.org also offers an Inhalant Abuse Prevention Kit, quiz, and lesson plans for anyone looking.

 

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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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Posted by on in Co-dependency

Many years ago a friend asked me the following question.  Initially I was going to ignore the question because how does someone answer a question like this?  My only other thought about it was, "Why is she asking ME!"  I didn't consider it again but about a week later I was out running (yes, I used to jog back then), not thinking about anything, & suddenly this huge profound answer dropped into my mind.  "That's it," I said to myself, "That's what Unconditional Love is."  I believe it to be Divine inspiration because this clarity came out of nowhere & I have never heard Love put this way before so I know it didn't originate from me.  I immediately stopped & went home & began to type into my computer the following insight.  Over the years I've shared this with many others & at workshops & it seems to resonate with others.  I hope that it is helpful to you too.     Just Love,

Barefoot Bill 

THE QUESTION:I've come across an interesting term, and wonder if I can tap into your wordsmith skills for assistance?  How do you define "unconditional friendship?"  How do you think one practices such a thing?  If you've got the time, I'd appreciate your input.  Peace & Love,

M.

MY RESPONSE:I smell more!  I see unconditional love & unconditional friendship as the same.  But, based on what you've given me (& what my Heart is prompting me to respond with) I offer the following as the three parts of what constitutes unconditional love, which I think generally apply except in a few rare cases (like a marriage partner or with our children):

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