Thursday, October 7, 2021

Letting Go of Regrets

Regret - a feeling of sadness or disappointment over something that has happened or been done.

Discussion – Read, consider and discuss the following points about Letting Go of Regrets

Letting go of regrets can involve the following aspects:

Forgiving yourself – Forgiveness is about letting go of feelings of resentment and releasing yourself from the shame or excessive guilt that we may carry or hold onto after making a mistake or doing something wrong. Sometimes what happened was not even our fault but we still may need to forgive and let go


Acceptance – This can be a hard concept to define, yet it is so very important. One way to look at acceptance is to say that acceptance is the ability to internally look at a situation, circumstance or experience and honestly say to oneself “it is, what it is” or “the past is the past” and thereby allow oneself to learn to escape negative emotions such as anger, hate, disappointment, injustice, or fear.


Another way to conceptualize acceptance, is to achieve a point mentally where we believe in our heart that:


·         “There is nothing I can do to change this circumstance (or situation)


·          I can only change how I adapt and cope and try to make productive choices going forward (Therefore I will do my best to move forward in as positive a way as possible)”



Some more points for discussion about letting go of regrets

When you let go of regrets you can rechannel your energy- Think of the energy wasted on regret. Imagine rechanneling that wasted energy and emotion into your present life and future in a positive way.


Letting go of regret can enhance and fuel motivation - Rather than hold on to regret, you can allow your experiences to make you work harder to be better today and tomorrow


You are allowed to move on from regret – Others may continue to judge you, stigmatize, blame, shame, etc. but you don’t have to continue to do that to yourself.  It is your choice. Your only responsibility is to make your best effort to learn from the past and make better choices in the future


There can be positive lessons learned even after regretful experiences - We are all products of our experiences and sometimes we “grow” past negative trials. Sometimes there are gains that come out of past bad experiences, even when those experiences fuel feelings of regret.


There is no guarantee that if you had made a difference choice, your life would have been better – Perhaps you feel like you regret a past decision and you feel like your life would have been better had you chosen a different path. That may be true. However, you will never know for sure. There is always a chance that had you taken another path in life, that may not have had the good outcome that you expected. It is better to accept what has happened and learn from it than perseverate on “what if’s” which just led to more frustration and often more regret – “What ifs” are a waste of time (Refer back to acceptance which is about letting go of “what if’ scenarios.


Coping with Regret – Regret can be likened to an anchor to a ship, holding you back, keeping you from moving forward as you should be. Regret can be that weight slowing down your journey. If you can “cut the anchor” of regret, you will likely soon find that you are “sailing forward” toward growth and positive change

Thoughts that can “cut the anchor” of regret - As a group, discuss which of these examples stand out to you the most as helpful and explain why:

A.   I did what I thought was right at the time

B.   I was a different person then, I’ve learned and moved on

C.   I honestly did not know better

D.   Other people were influencing me in a negative way, so my judgment was not clear

E.    I was using substances at that time, so my judgement was impacted, and I clearly wasn’t thinking straight

a.    Did you know that science shows that addiction adversely impacts the parts of the brain that are needed to make decisions? (The prefrontal cortex and hippocampus)

F.    I was not appropriately caring for my mental health at that time which affected and impacted my judgement

G.   I didn’t know then what I know now

H.   I’m human, I messed up, but I am entitled to another chance

I.      I am not the first, not the last person in this situation: Others have been forgiven and I deserve the same

J.    I have done some bad things, but I am not a bad person

K.   I was desperate, hopeless and afraid and I am not like that any more

L.    I’m truly sorry for what I’ve done so I am entitled to move on

M.   I’ve grown and I am simply not that person any more

N.   I’ve paid for my mistakes

O.   I deserve forgiveness

P.    My past does not define me

Q.   No more “what if’s” for me, I am done thinking about “what if” scenarios

R.   Other Can anyone in the group think of a statement of your own that you find helpful?

Process – Discussing Regrets

First make sure that the group is comfortable with this sensitive topic – Is everyone ready?

If so, it is important that there is a “no judgement” rule in place. Group members need to feel safe sharing their regrets without being shamed or criticized by others

If everyone is prepared and agrees to a healthy discussion of regrets, this is a suggested format for processing regrets (optional)

Start - What is something that you regret? (You feel sadness or disappointment about. Hard to let go of)

Digging deeper:  Why do you suppose you feel that way? – What messages might you be telling yourself that sustain feelings of regret (For example, messages of shame, self-judgement, humiliation, embarrassment, stigma, bitterness, disappointment, etc.)


How can you reframe those negative thoughts? – If it helps, use one of the thoughts listed above:  

A through P from list


Finally, allow group to share support and encouragement - The power of the group! We all can help one another get through this!


Friday, October 1, 2021

Fun Facts

Background– The purpose of this activity is to help the group get to know each other and build group cohesion which helps build comfort and trust. A group that feels comfortable and trusting has a greater potential to advance together in the therapy process. Substance use and mental health topics will also be discussed

Directions – For this group everyone will be discussing “fun facts” – Just to make sure everyone is on the same page, consider these two following qualities of “fun facts”

1)   A fun fact is a fact. This means it should be something real and truthful as opposed to just a made-up story or a random thought or personal opinion

2)   A fun fact should be fun – For this exercise, things that people share as fun facts can be happy and fun or they can be dark and not so fun. If you are going to share something darker, please make sure it is something you are comfortable with today and it is something you have accepted and can share without getting emotional. Consider some examples below

A fun, fun fact – “Fun fact: I consider myself a Disney fanatic as I watch all the old Disney movies repeatedly and I go to the theater on opening day for every new Disney movie”

 A “darker” fun fact – “I have a glass eye from an accident I had when I was a teenager”

ØIf the person sharing this feels anger, sadness or other unresolved emotions, it is NOT a fun fact and should not be shared in this group (perhaps in a future session or later today but not now).

Ø If the person sharing this feels comfortable and can discuss this without getting upset, it can be a “fun fact” (even if it does not sound all that “fun” when it happened)

Now just take turns going around the group sharing fun facts. The counselor//group leader should generate follow up discussion as appropriate (For example “Can anyone else in the group relate to that?”)

Part 2 – Fun Facts about Substance Use Disorders and Mental HealthReview and discuss as a group:


Studies repeatedly show that addiction is treatable and can be successfully managed. (Good news, right?)


Although drug/alcohol addiction is very serious in the world, tobacco is #1 as annually it kills more than AIDS, alcohol, car accidents, illegal drugs, murders, and suicides combined.


Research shows that men are more likely than women to use almost all types of illegal drugs


People may at times tend to value memories more than actual people, so sometimes you may really just miss the memories, not the actual person. (Keep in mind, this says “may” and is not always true in every case)


Many factors can influence the development of addiction. Environment, mental health, genetics, substance use and past experiences such as trauma can all be causes of addiction. (It does not seem to be just one thing alone, rather it is a combination of factors)


Legendary composer Johann Sebastian Bach created an opera specifically about an addiction to coffee


At one point in Vietnam, marriage applicants were required to obtain a Certificate of Good Mental Health from a doctor, proving that they are "mentally sound for marriage", before being allowed to marry


Some researchers who study brain scans have found that a brain in the initial stage of love looks surprisingly like a brain experiencing a drug addiction.


Some degree of stress can be a useful motivator for increased performance and productivity; therefore, stress isn’t always all bad


Maladaptive daydreaming is a psychiatric condition characterized by intense daydreaming that distracts a person from their real life and therefore can negatively impact relationships and functioning


Research shows that cuddling strengthens the frontal lobe of the human brain, the region of the brain responsible for how you react to emotional stress. (The “snuggle buzz” is real!)


Dopamine, the pleasure hormone, can cause some people to become addicted to seeking information. This is why some individuals find themselves struggling to stop endless scrolling on the internet or social media.


The smell of chocolate has been found to slow down brain waves, making us feel calm.


Convicted serial killer Ted Bundy worked at a mental crisis/suicide hotline and probably helped several people work through what they were dealing with and may have even saved lives.


Crying has a physiological effect on the body, releasing neurochemical substances that can improve mood.


The cells in your body react to what your mind says, so negativity can bring down your immune system


Studies show that massages, hugs, and hand holding reduce stress and boost the immune system


People who oversleep tend to crave even more sleep.


Evidence shows that listening to music can improve memory, strengthen immune system, and reduce depression risk


Reading aloud (and talking to yourself about the material) helps you learn more. Talking it out helps!