Thursday, August 26, 2021

“The Grind” Part 1 - Recognizing the Grind


Recognizing the Grind and the Paradox of Self-Reliance and Support

Life’s a grind and if you haven’t noticed that then you don’t have a pulse or else you are living in a dream world. The day you first truly recognize and accept that you are going to have to grind things out in life is probably the first day you really have become an adult, regardless of whatever your true age may be at that time. As you get out there in life and practice grinding it out you will learn many things. Two things that are true about the grind are:

1.  Ultimately it is you who are responsible for making sure things get done in your life

2.  In spite of #1 above, you cannot do this alone.

There is an interesting paradox here in that in the end, we all stand alone on at the podium of judgement when our life is evaluated as we are all ourselves responsible for how we choose to cope with the many things that come our way in life. Many of these things that come our way will be unexpected, unjust, and at times even cruel and painfully unfair. However, in the end, we all must constantly and consistently make our own choices and then act to follow a decision about how we are going handle all of these things that we encounter along life’s path. Still, even though in the end we all carry our own load of responsibility, the journey of life is not to be traveled alone. There will undoubtedly be times when we lean on others, let others guide and help us and in some instances allow others to help pull us through the grind of life. It’s just too hard to always be self-reliant, even though at the end of the day having a foundation of self-reliance is at the core of the journey

With that said three things to think about are:


1. Do I recognize the grind? Have I accepted the fact that this is going to be tough at times, but it is necessary to be prepared to push myself to strive to succeed, no matter which path I choose?


2. Am I ready to accept personal responsibility for the outcome of my life? Remember this does not mean that we are responsible for what happens to us, but we are responsible for our reactions, resolutions and choices, good or bad. Also, we are bound to make some bad choices as everyone does, but are we ready and responsible to get back on the right course once we’ve recognized a mistake or error in judgement?


3. Do I have good people in my life to help me, to love me, to accept me and to support me? If not, am I working on finding these people? Quality over quantity is the rule, as one good person who is a true and trusting support is better than a group of people who are shaky, unrelatable or unreliable

Monday, August 23, 2021

Values: Past, Present and Future


Values: Past, Present & Future

Our values motivate us. We give the most attention, focus and effort toward that which is most important to us, our values. Therefore, so many of our thoughts, behaviors and decisions are based on what we value. The following activity is about exploring our values because changing our values can change our lives for the better.

Directions – Get something to write on and write with. Everyone should make their best effort to come up with a value (something or someone that is important to you) for each item below:

List 1-12 on your paper and come up with something or someone you value for each one:

1.  A family member whom you value


2.  Something that you own or possess has financial value or is a source of income (Examples: bank account, stocks, savings account, car, home, jewelry, business, inheritance, etc.)


3.  Something work or career related that has value (Your education, your job, job training or skills, special license or certification, etc.)


4.  A friend whom you value


5.  Something you value related to hobbies, interests, or recreation


6.  Something you own that has sentimental value (meaningful and carries strong feelings)


7.  A personality trait or other quality of yours (Funny, loyal, honest, hardworking, resilient, etc.)


8.  A skill or talent of yours


9.  A personal achievement


10.      A physical quality of yours


11.      A moral or principle that you believe is important (Honesty, loyalty, freedom, equality, respect, love, etc.)


12.      Wild card – Any other person, thing or idea that you value that was not already selected



Group Discussion and Process:

Part 1 – Values and the Past

Ø Discuss up to three things on your list that were hurt, lost, damaged, weakened, compromised, etc. as a result of substance use, addiction or related consequences (arrest, jail, arguments, etc.). Share your answers with the rest of the group



Ø How can successfully managing substance use issues (and mental health), help to enhance, increase, or improve some of these important life areas for you?



Ø What are you doing today to help make this (previous answer) happen or what do you need to do?


Part 2 – Values and the Present

Ø You are probably grateful for all or most of your values. Try to pick two or three values from your list that really stand out for you today that you feel especially grateful for.



Ø How can you show or display gratitude today for these values?



Ø What are you working on today to take care of, help, improve or maintain these areas of value in your life?


Part 3 – Values and the Future

Ø What are two or three things on your list that you can see a brighter future for if you keep making positive changes with substance use and mental health (The rewards of recovery)


Ø How do you see yourself positively changing your behaviors, thinking, habits, attitude and overall lifestyle for the better in order to care for, nurture, support or enhance these life areas that you value?


Ø Starting today (or in the near future) what is at least one (or more) things you can do or actions you can start taking or decisions you can make to start making to care for or increase what you value in life? (Try to pick something specific)






Monday, August 16, 2021

5 Key Aspects of Appropriately Managing Feelings

Five Key Aspects of Appropriately Managing Feelings:

Directions – As a group complete the following feelings self-assessment, which reviews some key aspects of feeling our feelings. The information in italics helps provide some in-depth understanding of each aspect. As honestly and accurately as you can, try to assess yourself for each item below using the following scale

0 – Rarely ever

1 – A little

2 – Somewhat/sometimes

3 – Often/A lot of the time

4 – Almost always

___ I can effectively identify my feelings


Ø  I can pause, focus, reflect and think about what I am really feeling then name my feelings in my mind appropriately and accurately 

I can accept my feelings


Ø  I can admit and confess to myself what I am really feeling without trying to deny it, hide it or cover it up. By contrast: Imagine a person with fists clenched and jaw tightened yelling – “I’m not angry!”


___ I can understand my feelings 


Ø  I can answer some of the Who, What, When, Where Why and How questions about my feelings so that I can get a deeper grasp of what is really going on with my feelings, where they may have come from and what may be triggering them.


___ I can appropriately express my feelings


Ø  I can let others know how I feel openly using appropriate feeling words and phrases, without acting out inappropriately, or doing/saying something I will later regret, hurting others or losing control


___ I can cope with my feelings


Ø  I can face my feelings and deal with them in productive and healthy ways while avoiding negative reactions, behaviors, words, and habits. This includes avoiding “self-medication” or repression of feelings through substance use or other potentially addictive practices


Discuss your answers as a group

Breaking it Down Further: Discuss the following five aspects of appropriately managing feelings:


Identifying Feelings:


1.    Learn and know both the physical and psychological signs of your feelings. For example – “When I am feeling jealous, I get restless and moody, but I often deny it at first which can cause me to shut down emotionally which later turns to anger”


2.    Build your feelings vocabulary – The more that you know about different kinds of feelings and what they are like, the better you can identify what you may be feeling

Accepting Feelings:


1.    Practice insight building, self-awareness and self-honesty by being able to look inside and explore some of the more uncomfortable feelings. For example, most people can eventually identify and accept anger but some of the deeper feelings like hurt or fear that are often behind anger can be more challenging to accept


2.    Learn about why you may avoid admitting some feelings. For example, some people are told from childhood upbringing that it is weak to express insecurity or there may be cultural reasons for avoiding certain feelings (For example: “Where I came from, a man is not supposed to show vulnerability or fear”)

Understanding Feelings:


1.    Practice asking yourself the difficult questions. To build an understanding of our thoughts and feelings it is essential to learn to probe our own mind to try to figure things out. Questions like “Why am I feeling this way right now?” and “What triggered these feelings?” and “What is really going on here that is bothering me so much?” are examples of insight-building, self-assessment questions to build understanding


2.    Practice empathy. Empathy is all about understanding others which can help us to build an understanding of ourselves. For example, suppose someone wanted to learn more about how to understand feelings of grief related to the loss of a loved one. Speaking with others who went through similar experiences and building understanding of their experiences can be a reference point for understanding our own feelings, even if we experienced different circumstances. This is part of the reason why support groups are useful


Expressing Feelings:


1.    Learn to take down “the wall” when needed. Some people have built a protective “wall” that prevents them from truly opening up about feelings. To build effective friendships and relationships it is important to learn to be able to take some risks and allow others to really see how we are feeling


2.    Learn and practice assertive communication. To be assertive is to be able to respectfully speak openly about what is on your mind and how you are feeling even if it is challenging or intimidating to do so.


Coping with Feelings:


1.    Learn to stop and redirect challenging feelings before they trigger negative behaviors, it is essential to be aware of several ways to cope with feelings effectively to avoid a regrettable decision later. Breathing, cognitive reframing, positive self-talk, exercising, reading, listening to music, etc. are all examples of coping skills for feelings. There are many tools and skills that work well with practice


2.    Build a support system – One of the best ways to deal with feelings is to have people in our lives who are ready to listen and provide caring support. It can be much easier to cope with challenging feelings with the help of others who care.


Saturday, August 7, 2021

Setback Prevention for Success

 The Setback Game...

Directions: Take turns doing the following: When it is your turn, you should select one of the topics in the grid below. Then, tell a brief story about a setback (an occurrence when your progress got stalled or halted altogether) based on the topic you chose. If possible, tell a real story, but if not, it is okay to make up a hypothetical one if you cannot think of a real story. Make sure to include in the story how the setback specifically happened. Then, when done, as a group discuss the following:

  • Brainstorm: What could help prevent this type of setback in the future?


EXAMPLE: Someone goes first and selects “I don’t care” from the grid and tells a story like this:


“The last time I had a setback I thought that everything was going well. I had stayed away from drugs for a few months, and I really felt better - and I was happier! Then one day, for some reason I suddenly just felt like “I don’t care” what happens anymore. I probably should have talked to someone, but I kept my feelings to myself and soon I was saying to myself “I am going to get high, and I don’t care what happens, I will just deal with it later” – As expected I then had a major setback and I was getting high for several weeks until I overdosed and found myself in the hospital and then back in detox”.

Ø Group discussion (based on above story) - What could help prevent this type of setback in the future?

o Some group member suggestions:

§  “Like you said, the next time you feel like you don’t care you could call someone who does care and talk it out”

§  “I would try to figure out what caused that feeling of not caring. Maybe it was depression or frustration. If you can figure out the cause of those feelings earlier, before you start using again, then you might be able to prevent a negative outcome in the future


Hopefully now everyone gets the gist of the activity – Now try it as a group:





Or visit:



(Search under the topic "Setbacks and Relapse")