Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Four Year Prediction Time Capsule (aka The Leap Year Special)

Four Year Prediction Time Capsule (aka The Leap Year Special)
This is a fun activity to do any time of year, but it can be especially interesting around Leap Year because it is based on a four-year time period.

Intro: READ - Think about how much you might have changed from your first year of high school until your graduation for example (or for kids think of 4th-8th grade). Surely a lot of the changes you experienced at that time were a direct result of going through puberty and growing physically and mentally. Still a lot of what happened during those 4 years also depended upon your goals and your life choices. Thinking about four years of school puts in perspective the idea of how long, and also how short, a four-year time period is in life. For this group activity, we are going to focus specifically where you and others in the group see yourselves four years from now by making some predictions.

Directions – Fill out the four-year prediction grid according to the following directions.
There should be one prediction in each box. This activity is supposed to be fun and encouraging so please refrain from any negative or hurtful predictions such as “End up in jail…” or anything like that. Also, be realistic:  It may be fun to predict something like “Will rule the world!” but that is unrealistic and unlikely. Try to focus on positive and hopeful possibilities for the next four years.

Next follow these steps:

First, each person should get a copy of the Four Year Prediction Time Capsule Grid

Next, each person should write their name at the top of their grid to identify it as their own

Then fill out Row 1 with three predictions about yourself and your own life in the next four years. Come up with one for each category: Probable (Good chance it will happen), Maybe (It might happen) and You Never Know (There is a shot at it coming true if things work out right)

Next fill out Row 2 with any prediction for the next 4 years about anything in the world. For example: “So and so will be president in 4 years” or “My team will finally win the championship.”  -  Anything goes in this row…

When Rows 1 and 2 are complete, everyone should stand up. Group members should leave their grid in a visible place and everyone else in the group should walk around with a pen and write predictions on one another’s grid in the boxes in Rows 3 through 6 – Again remember to be positive, encouraging and realistic. Some examples are below to provide ideas:

“I see you living in a house of your own, married and starting a family”
“You will own your own successful marketing business and live in an apartment in the city”
“You’ll be in college studying to be a counselor at a place like the one we are in now”

Row 7 is open for however the group decides to use it. You may want to expand one of the existing ideas or come up with a new and unique way to use it, or just leave it blank. The group can decide

Have fun! – (You don’t need to fill every single box, depending upon the group size and level of participation but everyone should try their best) When everyone’s grid is done or close to it, everyone should sit down again with their own grid and go around the room sharing some of the interesting predictions as time permits. If the group is large or time is short, it may be better to just highlight a few from everyone’s grid.

FINALLY: THE TIME CAPSULE CHALLENGE – When closing, everyone should put their grid in an envelope. Write the date for 4 years from today on the envelope. Everyone should take their grid home and put it somewhere (like a sock drawer) and hopefully open the time capsule up in four years to see what came true!


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Saturday, February 15, 2020

HP Squared

Hurt People Hurt People

Almost everyone has heard the phrase "hurt people, hurt people" - This group activity examines this concept further and discusses breaking the cycle of hurt and instead focusing on the healing process

HP2 = Hurt people x Hurt people – The answer to this equation is exponential because if a person feels hurt enough, that person may choose to hurt several other people. Those hurt people may proceed to hurt several others more and so on. This can cause an exponential growth in the number of hurt people out there unless people decide to BREAK THE CYCLE

Breaking the Cycle - First, it is important to recognize the fact that many people who are hurt, do not end up purposely hurting others. Some people learn to heal from past hurt and move on without acting out later. Still, no one has had a perfect life, so everyone has been hurt at one point or another. Therefore, everyone should be able to benefit from this exercise on some level regardless of whether or not they have hurt others. Below we will discuss the process of breaking the cycle of hurt.

Do you feel annoyed or angry more often than you would like too?

Would others who know you say that you seem to be irritable or stressed out?

Do you find yourself getting into arguments or disputes or having interpersonal difficulties?

Do you find yourself feeling angry at yourself or thinking bad thoughts about yourself?

Do you find yourself thinking about/feeling resentment, revenge, regret, depression or self-doubt?

Overcoming Lies and Excuses – There are a number of lies and excuses that we may tell ourselves which can perpetuate negative behaviors and attitudes that may be fueled or triggered by hurt. Consider a few:

“Hurting other people makes me feel better” – People can spend a lifetime fighting, arguing, yelling, etc., with the false hope that this will result in self-healing. The truth is that aggression toward others may bring a temporary rush of adrenaline that may feel good, but the problem is that this is only temporary. What often happens is that a person may need to keep on fighting and hurting others to keep experiencing the same temporary relief, which is not a long-term solution. Rather it is a recipe for ongoing pain

“I was hurt, so it is ok to hurt others” (Justifying) – It can be a mistake to fool yourself into thinking that being hurt yourself justifies hurting others. This just perpetuates aggression and violence in the world

“Nice or kind people are weak- I need to be tough” – This is also another lie. To the contrary, there is great strength in being able to walk away from a fight or an argument. At times the world promotes the idea of the need to step on others to get ahead. The truth is that a peaceful life is more likely to lead to real success.

Heal by Changing Hurting Behavior - Healing from hurt can take a long time. Some people are able to make progress on their own with support from friends and loved ones. Others need additional professional help and therapy. It’s a process. The truth is: Everyone Can Improve:  As stated earlier, regardless of whether you have identified this as a problem or not, there are things that everyone can work on to be less hurtful. Review the following list and pick some items that stand out to you as areas you could benefit by working on

Give people the benefit of the doubt – Rather than jump to conclusions and get angry at people without knowing all the facts, try not to make assumptions and instead drop it when possible

Patience – A lot of arguments and fights can be avoided by just being patient and waiting to speak or act

Empathy- Practice putting yourself in other people’s shoes. This can help with understanding and make it easier to give other people a break or to just let it go

Lower your “offense radar” – If you are looking to be offended hard enough, you will find it. It can be helpful to overlook smaller, more innocent mistakes and misunderstandings without turning to anger or aggression

Turn it over – Rather than act on anger, turn the anger over to a more positive source. Try to speak to a close friend, support group or a therapist rather than acting out when you feel hurt. If you are spiritual then you can pray to let go of your anger.

Improve your surroundings – If you find yourself feeling hurt often, perhaps you need to look at who and where you are spending your time. Sometimes you can put yourself in more positive surroundings. If you hang out with angry or aggressive people, that can be contagious. Instead look for peaceable easy-going associates

Therapy – If you feel like you suffer from deeper hurt or trauma, therapy may be needed and it can be very beneficial

Focus on the present – This means learning to let go of the past. If your past is hurtful, it may be time to start working on letting it go.

Positive Self Talk – If hurtful messages are running through your brain, it can be helpful to fill your mind with positive thoughts about what you are grateful for, what you love and appreciate, and ways you can feel the joy of helping others which will in turn help you help yourself

Forgive, live and love – Use the energy you might have wasted on revenge, depression, aggression or pain instead toward something positive like helping others or doing your part to make someone’s life a little better

Forgive yourself- Sometimes hurt stays active because of resentment toward ourselves for not doing something different in the past. Letting go of any negative self thoughts and feelings is essential to healing. Healing often starts from within

Saturday, February 8, 2020

Parenting - Taking a Look at Skills


This activity can be used in any type of group whether it be substance use treatment, mental health, or both; Good parenting is global across all types of situations. However, parenting struggles are often linked with substance use issues because substance use, when it progresses to addiction, often has a negative impact on parenting just like any other disease. The degree can vary from one situation to another as no two situations are exactly the same, however two things that almost every parent can agree on are:

Being a parent is challenging (for anyone – regardless of addiction)

Everyone can improve their parenting skills in some way as no one is a perfect parent

Group question: Based on your experiences does everyone agree with the above two statements?

“Selfing” – If for some reason you are participating in this group and you are not a parent, you can look at the skills that are going to be discussed in terms of “selfing” instead of parenting. Selfing would involve looking at these skills from the perspective of how you can better manage your self and your own life. Although this list of skills is specific to parenting, many of these skills are effective for anyone when it comes to improve their life. So, if you are participating as a non-parent, simply think about how you can help yourself with the following skills:

Parenting Skills List - Review and discuss the following list of parenting skills as a group. Think about your areas of strength and areas you need to make improvement

Building Bonds – A bond is a close relationship created by spending quality time with someone resulting in a connection. Ask yourself: As a parent do you feel a strong connection with your children? Do you think that they feel a strong connection with you?

Being Available – You may need to work, do household chores and other important things which is important – However, is there time in your schedule when your children can count on you being there?

Meeting Needs – “Wants” are things like gifts and presents which are nice for children. But needs are even more important as meeting needs helps a child to thrive long term. Are your kids physical, mental, social, educational, emotional and spiritual needs being met?

Setting Limits and Boundaries – Kids of all ages from toddlers to teens need parents to help them learn boundaries and rules which would include how far to go or not to go with things. This can be a challenge but are you doing what you can to set limits with your children whenever needed?

Decision making – As a parent, do you make the kinds of decisions for your own life that you would want your kids to imitate? Are you teaching your kids how to make good decisions for themselves?

Teaching Skills – The older a child gets the more life skills they need. Even toddlers can learn basic skills for managing the challenges of life and this gets even more important as kids get older.

Focusing on the Positive (over the negative) – Growing up in a negative or critical environment is not a constructive situation for children. Even if life has struggles, (which it often does for most people), are you doing your best to keep the focus on the positive?

Teaching Empathy – Caring about others and taking the time to understand where others comes from is essential to positive human relationships. Ask yourself: Am I teaching my child not only to care about him or herself but to also care about others and to try to understand different people?

Communication – A child’s primary source for learning how to communicate is through parents or caregivers. You might ask yourself if you are doing your best to teach your children to express themselves openly and assertively?

Modeling Positive Relationships – It can be tough to expect your children to learn to develop friendships with positive peers if your own friends or romantic relationships are with others whose lives may be a wreck.

Resilience – It is a sad reality that disappointment, hurt feelings, loss, mistakes, and failures happen to everyone. As a parent, are you helping your children to develop the skills to bounce back when things do not go as expected?

Respect – To get ahead in life, a person needs to know how to respect themselves and how to respect others. Parents/caregivers are usually the ones who teach this deeply personal but vital quality

Emotional Security – There is a lot to teaching children to be emotionally secure. This includes teaching kids to identify and express emotions, anxieties, and fears as well as hopes and dreams. Skills for managing difficult emotions and anxieties are also an important part of this

Meaning and Purpose – Life is much more than seeking fun and pleasure. It is a parent’s job to teach their children to set goals for a meaningful life and to guide them as they search for answers to life’s big questions