Despite the ideals of connectedness, family and merriment, holidays can be a tough time for anyone. This is exceptionally so for families who have loved ones in treatment. This certainly wasn’t “the plan” was it? John Lennon’s lyric from the song Beautiful Boy rings true, “Life is what happens when we are busy making other plans.” Evaluating our beliefs about what it is supposed to look like or what “should be” is really an integral part of the process. The clients in my group spend a lot of time assessing their patterns of thinking. The disease of Addiction requires a circuitous logic that allows the addict to justify, minimize, externalize and rationalize their behaviors. Under every drinking problem is a thinking problem and the process of recovery requires us to step away from our own best problem solving. The concept of letting go is a central theme in recovery literature. Letting go of expectations is especially important. We often say that expectations are premeditated resentments. When we have expectations of ourselves, others, or situations, we are planning in advance to be upset when things don’t go the way we expect them too.
Viewing entries posted in 2015
Part of my job at Evoke is to help staff manage the inherent physical risk that comes with an at risk population living in the backcountry. Mostly this risk looks like cuts and scrapes from hiking through brush, a burnt finger from a hot pan, or supporting a participant to stay hydrated on a long hike. That being said, you need to plan for the big risks as well, so you are ready and able if the time comes to deal with a challenging situation. Our field, logistics, and medical departments consist of well trained staff ranging in skill level from CPR/1st aid, wilderness first aid, and wilderness first responders, all the way to EMT’s, registered nurses, and doctors.
When I’m in the field working in a group and I look at a face of apathy, I’m looking at the 17 year old Elise. I remember feeling so done with the world around me. Yup, my depression in a nutshell.
When researchers distill the personal qualities that underpin positive outcomes in life, two traits come up consistently. The first is intelligence, the other is willpower. Unfortunately, increasing intelligence has proven to be difficult at best. Conversely, recent research indicates that willpower is something that we can increase and improve. In fact, much like a muscle, willpower can be fatigued from overuse and strengthened with consistent exercise.
The first thing I know about encouraging gratitude in others is don’t tell them to feel grateful; encourage them to feel everything. Gratitude, for it to be deep and consistent in our lives, comes from a sense of wholeness. When we learn to feel everything, we are more likely to recognize the feelings of gratitude. As we more fully hold our pain, sadness and hurt, we will also come to see their connection to love and joy. That is, our pain and hurt are evidence of our capacity for connection and love. Holding our pain and hurt with gentleness and awareness, we will begin to connect it to the things in our lives we most value. Instead, we often try to block out or “escape” our pain and in doing so we limit our capacity to feel joy and love.
Eleven years ago I moved to Santa Clara with a plan to work at Entrada for a year before attending law school. When the time came to go to school I found myself conflicted about leaving. I loved what I did and I loved the people with whom I worked. Ten years later I am still here sans a law degree and completely happy with my decision to stay.
Mandala, [muhn-dl-uh], noun
I’d like to begin with a quote…
At the heart of the Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) model there is one concept that is found to be a common thread among many, if not most, mental health issues: experiential avoidance. There is a growing base of evidence that experiential avoidance is a factor in the development and maintenance of anxiety, depression, and substance abuse disorders, all of which have a high degree of comorbidity with trauma-based disorders. As regarding the trauma implicated in Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) specifically, the DSM-V posits an entire symptom cluster (one of three) of PTSD as revolving around experiential avoidance.
A “parent workshop” weekend. Really? I have already admitted to myself that I failed as a parent. I am in the most emotionally exhausting and agonizing time of my life. My family system had malfunctioned. I dislike “group” meetings and I am supposed to feel comfortable in a room of total strangers? It really was something I did not want to attend.