Monday, April 26, 2021

Shift to a Positive Focus


Shift to a Positive Focus 

Self-reflective discussion questions to help group get into positive mindset

What is good about you?

What can you say with pride?

What have you overcome to get here?

What is one good choice you have made?

Why are your worth recovery?

What’s good about life for you these days?

What is one way that you have safe, good clean fun?

What is something funny you’ve heard or seen recently?

What is one good thing that makes you smile?

What is a positive life lesson you have learned?

What is a memory of something kind or encouraging someone said to you?

What is one thing that is helping you today?

Who or what is something you love?

Where is your happy place?

What is something beautiful in your viewpoint? (other than in a sexual way)

What is something that makes you feel young (even if it’s just for a little while)

What is an area of life where you feel strong and confident?

What was a "win" for you in your life?

What was an experience you had where everything worked out just right?

What is one life area that you feel good about today because you were able to improve?

What is something positive that you have gained from your past struggles?

What is something negative, destructive or hurtful that you were able to get rid of in your life?

What is one small thing that can make your day better?

What’s something that brings you joy in life?

What has someone done for you that was thoughtful or helpful in your journey?

What is a positive milestone that you either achieved or are about to reach?

What gives you hope?

What helps you believe that you can succeed?

Who or what is like an anchor for you that you can hold onto when the seas of life get stormy?

“Every day may not be good... but there’s something good in every day.”Alice Morse Earle

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

The Struggle is Real


The Struggle is Real – This activity is focused on identifying and the strategizing ways to overcome the things that are giving you the most trouble in your personal positive change process.


Directions: If you are more advanced in your recovery and you are doing well then for this exercise, look back at some of your past struggles and consider some of them. If you are someone who is still struggling sometimes now, then try to identify a few areas from the list below that are particularly tough for you when it comes to managing substance use disorders


As a group, review and discuss these examples of some typical challenging areas in substance use recovery. When the group is done discussing this list make sure to allow everyone in the group an opportunity to identify and process some of their own ideas about areas of struggle


Do you now or have you in the past ever had a difficult time with any of the following…


    Getting past a certain point without relapsing (If so, when does that usually happen for you?)




    Sleep problems (insomnia/hypersomnia?)


    Mental health

o   Depression

o   Anxiety

o   Mood swings

o   Eating disorder

o   Trauma/PTSD

o   Other mental health issue- Which one?


      Physical Health

o   Coping with physical pain

o   Physical disability

o   Chronic health problem (If so which one?)



o   Difficult finding positive friends and/or staying away from negative ones

o   Poor choices in romantic relationships


      Attitude/Negative Thinking/Difficult Feelings

o   Overconfidence/Cockiness

o   Indifference – (Stop caring and give up- “What’s the point?” or “Who Cares?”)

o   Resentments/Anger leads to relapse

o   Bored with drug free life

o   Loneliness

o   Complacency

o   Maintaining balance/Becoming overwhelmed with responsibilities

o   Return of denial – “I can control it this time” or “Once more won’t hurt”

o   Giving yourself permission – “I deserve a reward”- then use


    Cross Addiction – (For example moving from drugs to alcohol or to gambling or compulsive sex, etc.)

        Other – What else that has not been discussed is a struggle for you or was a past struggle for you?

Closing Process Questions:


1.    Are you willing to share with the group the next time that you may be struggling? Why or why not?


2.    What have people told you to do and what have you tried when it comes to getting through tough times?


3.    What do you know for sure helps you?


4.    What have you not tried but you think may be helpful with successfully managing areas of struggle?


My Plan to Survive Areas of Struggle: Review and discuss the following:

How can this group help me to survive challenges?



What can I start to do now to be prepared for times of struggle?



Specific Struggle Survival Plan: If I am having a hard time, I will… (Be specific and realistic with your plan)








One thing that I am willing to consider trying which I have not tried or resisted in the past is:




I will stay motivated to overcome times of struggle without giving up or giving in by…




Tuesday, April 13, 2021

The Great Lie of Anxiety


The Great Lie of Anxiety

Background: So, what is the great lie of anxiety? The lie is something that many anxious people may tell themselves, which sounds something like this:


“If I think about this (stressful thing) long and hard enough, I will finally figure everything out and it will get better, so I have to keep on thinking and thinking until that happens”


Anxiety can tell us that the more we think about something the greater the chance the problem will somehow be “solved” just by repetitively thinking about it more and more and more. It is like waiting for a magical “Aha!” or “Eureka!” moment that will somehow unlock the answers that solve your worries and take your stress away.


The truth is that so many problems and situations that trigger anxiety are not “puzzles” or “riddles” that need to be solved by continuously thinking deeply about them. Often things that make us anxious are complex and involve a lot of factors that are out of our control.

Consider some examples of things people may repetitively obsess and worry over, that we have little (or no) control over:


The past – Anxiety can make us think repeatedly about our mistakes and traumas and other uncomfortable experiences over and over again as if that can somehow make us “fix” these issues. Consider a few examples of some thoughts related to a past event that someone may anxiously obsess over:

  • I can’t believe I let that person talk to me like that!
  • Why didn’t I leave my abusive ex many years earlier than I did?
  • I should have never dropped out of college what was I thinking!
  • I wish I would have just stayed home that night that I went out and got arrested

AS A GROUP: Discuss some other examples of things from the past that someone may obsess about

“What if” scenarios – In life it is great to be prepared and to think ahead to be proactive, but anxiety can make a person obsess over different potential problems that may never happen. Consider some examples:

  • What if I get sick or come down with a serious illness, what am I going to do then?
  • What if I never find true love and I live the rest of my life alone?
  • What if I stay broke for the rest of my life?

AS A GROUP: Discuss some other examples of “what if” scenarios that people may obsess about. 

Other people – Some people anxiously obsess over other people’s thoughts or behaviors. Consider some examples:

  • I want everyone to like me at my new job and I won’t be able to handle it if they don’t
  • I wonder what people are saying about me behind my back.
  • What if my partner wants to leave me for someone else?

AS A GROUP: Discuss some other examples of ways people may anxiously obsess about other people 

Our own shortcomings and current life challenges and limitations – Some examples:

  • Why am I not more attractive and loveable?
  • If I just could get a hold of big chunk of money all of my problems would go away
  • If I wasn’t in this legal situation, I would have it made and I could do what I want with no problems

AS A GROUP: Discuss some other examples of ways people may anxiously obsess about shortcomings or limitations

Fears – Things we are afraid of can fuel obsessive thinking – Consider some examples

  • I just saw terrible things on the news and now I am thinking those things will happen to me
  • I can’t stop thinking that my children are in danger because of….
  • If I speak my mind out loud in public situations everyone is going to make fun of me, I know it

AS A GROUP: Discuss some other examples of fears people may obsess over



Closing Group Discussion – Now, try to be specific about yourself, what kinds of things personally do you find yourself overthinking about or obsessing about at times in your life?

The Great Lie of Anxiety = The more I think about It  ----->  the better things will get

Specific false messages about obsessive thinking and worrying are part of the great lie of anxiety:

(Review and discuss these self told-“lies” as a group)

1.    When I worry it helps me to be ready for any scenario – Although it is a very good thing to think and plan ahead, worrying often involves going down many obsessive, at times irrational “what if” paths which can be time consuming and counterproductive. Being prepared is one thing but worrying about things beyond our control is another and so is trying to anticipate every single possibility.

2.    Worrying is a protection so if I think about scary things, they are less likely to happen – The truth is that some negative events are going to happen from time to time no matter what we do. Again, it is helpful to be alert, ready and to take reasonable precautions and safety measures in life but obsessively going over all of our fears repeatedly does nothing to lessen the odds that things will or will not happen to us

3.    If I worry that means I care – This is a lie as well. You can care deeply about others whom you love without obsessing or repetitively worrying about them. It is better to be there to support, help and guide those we love rather than wasting time thinking about a host of various fearful scenarios about them

4.    Worrying about things motivates me – The truth is that worrying and obsessing can have the opposite effect as overthinking can stifle motivation. There is a time and place to think about things that are important to us in order to build motivation, inspiration and creativity, but it is important to work on setting limits when thinking becomes anxiously obsessing about things.


All of these coping skills may be easier said than done and can be very challenging, but these are all potentially useful skill areas for people who worry or obsess. These all may take practice to learn but these skills can be mastered over time - Discuss how each of the following can help people cope with worry:


Distracting – Can you find ways to stop thoughts by distracting yourself?


Forgiving – Could it be easier to just forgive someone who hurt you rather than obsess about the situation?


Waiting – Can learning to just wait patiently for something to play itself out on its own help?


Choosing – You may be able to escape the “What am I going to do” trap by making a choice and going with it


Letting Go – For some problems and worries it is best to learn to just let go. As soon as some thoughts enter our minds it can be helpful to learn to let them go as fast as they come in


Surrendering – If it feels like you are swimming against the current, sometimes it is better to give in to the situation and go with the current instead of against it.


Sacrificing – This can be more drastic but on occasion it may be better to just get rid of something that is too much to handle. (For example, if you job is truly driving you out of your mind, maybe just take a less stressful one that pays less but you have peace of mind)


Accepting – The beauty of being able to truly believe and grasp the fact that “it is what it is” can be so liberating when it comes to anxiety and worry. Learn to accept what you cannot change


Facing (Fears) – With help and support, facing fears can be so therapeutic. Therapy can help


Your task for the next week: Pick at least one and focus on it in your life for the next 7 days


Saturday, April 3, 2021

“Must Haves” – Identifying and Discussing Basic Needs for Self-Improvement


Opening Exercise: “Gotta Have It: The small things in life”

Directions: As a group go through the following list one by one. With each item on the list, group members are encouraged to share their opinion using one of these choices:

*   “Gotta have it” - (This is something very important to you)


*   “Could live without it” – (You either are not interested at all or you could give it up or live without this if you had too)


Gotta Have It” List:


ü Morning coffee


ü Sunday football


ü A dog


ü Gym membership


ü Owning a car with driver’s license


ü 12 Step Meetings/Self Help Groups


ü Streaming video entertainment (Netflix, Hulu, etc.)


ü A relationship partner (as compared with being single)


ü Sweets


ü Newer more modern smart phone


ü Music on in the background at home when doing chores


ü A best friend


ü Regular, quality, professionally done hair cut/style


ü A book you are reading


ü A hobby


ü Continue with your own ideas: Now the group should follow this same process with everyone in the group coming up with at least one thing in life that you “Gotta have” then sharing that with the group to discuss in the same manner as the above examples




Part 2 – “Must Haves” for Progress and Goals

Directions: For this part of the exercise, the group will try to focus on more important things that are important in life as they are basic needs for goals. As a group go through each topic and group members should try to share “must haves” or basic needs that are personally important for making progress in each area. These things should be non-negotiable things you would not be willing to compromise. Discuss each one by one with everyone in the group encouraged to share at least one thought per topic if possible


Friendship – For someone to be your friend, what is one non-negotiable requirement? – Some examples provided to get the group started:

Ø  “For someone to be my friend, they have to be honest, I can’t stand liars”

Ø “To be my friend you have to be loyal and not talk behind my back or gossip about me”

Ø “I can only be friends with people who love animals

...Now as a group discuss people’s thoughts on Friendship then continue with the rest of the list:


Love (Romantic) – “For me to love someone they must….”


Serenity – “I need ____ in my life to experience inner peace”


Weekends – “On my weekends, I need to have….”


Entertainment – “What forms of entertainment are most important to you? (Reading, going outdoor, sports, binge watching, social media, music, etc.…)


Balance – “To achieve balance in life I need…”


Health – “To feel healthy in life I need…”


Safety – “To feel a sense of security in life I need” … (A guard dog, alarm system, self-defense skills, safe car in good condition, stay out of crime areas, etc.…)


Recovery (Substance related) – “To successfully manage substance use issues I need…”


Good Mental Health – “For me to be calm, stabile and regulated mentally I need…”


Happiness – “I need ___ in my life in order to be truly happy”

OTHER? – If the group is up for it and there is time, discuss other life areas in the same way



Closing Questions


Ø How do you make sure that you get your basic needs met?



1.  What specifically do you do?



2.  What skills or do you still need?



3.  Who or what can help you?



Ø What are you doing now to make sure you have your needs met?



Ø How can you improve for the future so that you have more of what you need?



Ø To close out the group, everyone should try to answer the following: “Three things that I will specifically start doing to make sure that my basic needs are met so I can achieve my goals are: