Friday, July 27, 2018

What is Self-Honesty and Why is it So Important?

What is Self-Honesty and Why is it Important?

Honesty all around is so important. However, one specific aspect of honesty that is critical along the path to self-awareness is learning to be honest with yourself. No one is perfect when it comes to self-honesty but some people are better at it than others. Unfortunately, lying to oneself can become so deeply ingrained and habitual that an individual can become completely blind to the reality that many others can clearly see. (It’s like the old saying says: DENIAL stands for “Don’t Even Know I Am Lying”)

Learning to be honest with yourself can be one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself. You can choose to stroke your own ego by telling yourself little lies to make yourself feel better when things start to feel uncomfortable. However if you are really only lying to yourself, any relief you may be getting is only temporary especially when the wakeup call of reality eventually comes to light. Self-honesty is a way out of that cycle.

What is involved in self-honesty and avoiding the trap of self-deception?

Consider the possibility that you may be wrongThere was a time when the prevailing view was that the world was flat until someone challenged that belief and learned the truth. People who insist that they are always right are limiting their potential to adapt, learn and grow

GROUP QUESTION: Can you think of an example in your own life when you once swore you were right about something but later learned that you needed to change your viewpoint?

Do not automatically close yourself off to viewpoints just because you initially feel that you disagree with themWere you ever that teenager telling all the grownups “I’m just having a little fun – I’ve got everything under control” - only later to find out you should have listened to them?

GROUP QUESTION: What is a viewpoint that you currently disagree with, that perhaps you could be more open minded about if you took a little bit of time to try to learn more about it?

Do the math – Does what you say is true, really add up? (Or do you just want it to be true) – For example, consider a man who says he is desired by many because of his good looks, which perhaps was true for him in High School but in reality he hasn’t been on a halfway decent date in years.

GROUP QUESTION: What is an area of your life that it may be a good idea to really sit down and honestly evaluate your current progress?

Look for evidence – If something is true there should be some proof more than just a “feeling” – Consider an athlete who brags that he or she “knows” that he/she is the “best”, but later that doesn’t end up showing itself in the win/loss column

GROUP QUESTION: How do you really know that you are making progress? What evidence do you use to honestly measure it?

Listen to the people who know you, love you and whom you can trustSometimes other people can be wrong, however quite often others can see things that you may not be seeing, so it’s worth a listen even if it hurts sometimes.

GROUP QUESTION: Who can you go to in order to get a truthful and honest assessment about how you are really doing?

Speaking of hurting, there is some truth to the phrase “the truth hurts” – If you are sensitive to a certain criticism be mindful that maybe there is some element of truth to it that you need to work on (Otherwise if it doesn’t apply – let it fly) – Imagine, for example, a person who always gets angry whenever people tell him that he is angry

GROUP QUESTION: What topics might come up in your life that can sometimes make you feel a little bit sensitive, guarded or defensive?

Friday, July 13, 2018

This is Your Brain on Drugs...(Fried Egg not Included)

 Addressing the topic of “Addiction and the Brain” can be likened to a group of people with varying degrees of knowledge and experience, looking through a telescope and trying explain the universe in great detail. Science has come a long way when it comes to understanding the human brain, but we are still only scratching the surface. Our amazing brain still holds out a lot of mysteries as to how exactly it all comes together to function as our source for thinking, feeling and behaving the way we do in our own special way. The exact answers as to why all of us think how we think, and feel how we feel and do what we do, cannot be simply explained alone in terms of just brain chemicals and nueroreceptors, at least not yet. Scientists are making amazing advancements like never before but there is still progress to be made especially when it comes to grasping the way addiction often has many similarities among people, however in many other ways it can often be a uniquely individualized experience from person to person.

To start a broad discussion on addiction and the brain, a good basic understanding is to recognize and acknowledge that addiction impairs one’s ability to effectively reason. What is exactly is reason?

Reason: n. – 1: the power of comprehending, inferring, or thinking especially in orderly rational ways: intelligence 2 -proper exercise of the mind 3 - sanity (Merriam-Webster)

Discussion – Review and discuss the following statements about addiction and impaired reason. Being as open, honest and reasonable as you can be, check off any that may have applied to you at some point:

Getting in trouble with the law multiple times for substance use related offenses but insisting that it was all caused by just “bad luck” or “people out to get me” but nothing at all due to substance use.

Repeated problems and arguments with family or other relationships about using substances yet insisting it is all based on others treating you unfairly or that they are all just being “crazy”

Experimenting over and over with the idea that “I can control this” but repeatedly proving that experiment is a failure by eventually losing control

Trying to convince yourself that “I can stop any time I want to” however that time never seems to come or when it does come it never seems to last.

Repeatedly falling into the “if trap” by convincing yourself that things would change for the better only “if” this or that happened but the “if’s” are all really just excuses or ways to blame other people

Thinking that “this couldn’t happen to me because I’m too smart” when it comes to addiction, when in reality addiction can happen to anyone of any intelligence level.

Getting intoxicated to a level where you lose control of your power of reason and then do something you later regret, only to do it again another time in the future, perhaps even repeatedly

Convincing yourself that “I just use drugs to have a good time or to feel good and that’s it” however in reality the stress from the consequences increasingly competes with the fun or the good feelings

Telling yourself you are fine when deep down you know that your use is compromising you mentally when it comes to your focus, your moods, your motivation, or your ability to handle stress.

Thinking that “I only use because I want too” when evidence shows, it’s not just that you want to use, but it has progressed to where you need to use

What other some other examples of choices you may have made either directly or indirectly because of substance use that could be considered to be unreasonable or just plain bad decisions?

Even if today, being honest, you still feel like you aren’t sure that you want to stop getting high, what other ways has substance use impacted you mentally? (Focus, mood, motivation, concentration, other?)

What if a family member of yours was here what would they say about you for these questions?