Sunday, November 28, 2021

"The Grind" Part 4: Comeback


The grind, that is life, will knock you down from time to time. Like a fighter, you may get knocked out for a few seconds but it’s up to you to never let them count to 10 and count you out for good. To successfully grind it out, it’s important to be able to get up from the canvas no matter hard you get hit. People who successfully keep on grinding are those who are able to find a way to keep on fighting until the final bell.

Often, it’s not over when you get up from a knockdown. You may feel dazed or confused from the blow that life stuns you with. Still, once you are on your feet again it essential to try not to go down again. To do that we at times need to change our strategy and modify our technique. We bob and weave, duck and cover, jab and run, and do whatever we can to stay in the arena that is life. Never give in or give up the fight, That is how we grind out until the victory!


How can you be prepared to avoid getting knocked out by life (Who or what can help you prevent experiencing a knockout punch?)


When life knocks you down, who or what helps you get back up? How can you adjust your strategy to keep on standing?


Why is life worth keeping up the fight for even when we need to change up our approach to prevent another knockdown?


Thursday, November 18, 2021

The Gratitude Grid



Directions – Fill out the following 16 space grid by writing down at one thing that you are grateful for today in each space. Feel free to put anything or anyone you want in any order as long as it is something that you feel appreciation, thankfulness or gratitude for


This Gratitude Grid will be discussed in somewhat of a “game” format as the group should follow the instructions of the group leader and then discuss thoughts and feelings related to the instructions – See below for explanation

Instructions for Counselor/Group Leader for processing the “Gratitude Grid”  -


Read each instruction below to the group. Make sure to pause in between each instruction to discuss thoughts and feelings related to each action listed below.

1.    What do you like best about what you wrote in box A1?

2.    How would you think and feel if someone stole or took what you wrote in box B2?

3.    If you got into a legal situation that limited your contact or exposure to what you wrote in box C3 how would that impact you?

4.    If you had money to spend to help or improve what you wrote in box D4 what would that be like for you?

5.    Look at what you wrote in box A2 – What is one of the first things that comes to mind?

6.    Which would be harder to live without, what you wrote in box A3 or B3?

7.    If what you wrote in box A4 became the primary focus of your life for the next month, what would your life be like?

8.    How would you protect what is in box B1 if there was danger or risk involved?

9.    What do you see in the future for what you wrote in box B4?

10.  Is there any relationship between what you wrote in box C1 and box C2? If so, what?

11.  How would you describe box C4 to someone who you never met?

12.  Look at box D1, D2 and D3 – Which one of those means the most to you of the three and why?

13.  If you got to choose to improve or enhance or help what is on any box, which would you pick and what would that improvement be?

14.  What is one thing in your grid that you need to give more attention to in your life?

15.  Are there one or two things in your grid that stand out as the most important of all?

16.  What is one thing in your grid that you need more of in your life?

17.  If you were to relapse related to substance use, how would some of the things in your grid be negatively impacted?

18.  When you are doing well with substance use and mental health recovery, what are some things in your grid that truly improve a great deal?

19.  What is something from your grid that you could show even more appreciation for?

20.  Pick one thing in your gratitude that you have not shared about yet – Tell the group about who or what it is

21.  As this group ends, what are one, two or three things in your grid that you are going to leave here today and try to actively think about over the next several days (in a positive way)

Additional Information: Discuss if there is time



The Grateful Eight – 8 Ways to Become More Grateful



Use your senses and be observant – Take extra time to really look at things in life you want to be more grateful for



Daily Reflection – Wake up or go to sleep thinking about things you want to be more grateful for



Keep a gratitude journal



Watch your words – Try to use more thankful and grateful language while trying to minimize complaints and criticism



Change from “I have to” to “I get to” – Increase gratitude by expressing things as a privilege rather than a chore For example “I get to pick up my kids today!” instead of “I have to pick up my kids from school today”



Consider what it would be like not to have things – For example if you want to be more grateful about your job, try to focus on what it is like not to have a job



Use visuals – Pictures in our surrounding can help us remember to be grateful



Reframe perspective – Things could always be worse – For example, if you get a flat tire, instead of focusing on how stressful it is to get a flat tire, reframe it and think to yourself “if this is the worst thing that happens to me today, this is still a pretty darn good day!”




Friday, November 12, 2021

Surviving Challenges by Adjusting Your Attitude


Surviving Challenges by Adjusting Your Attitude

Opening Exercise The Attitude Game

Directions – If done in person then cut out the 20 attitudes below to make 20 “Attitude Cards”. (There are 20 total: 10 Negative and 10 Positive – mix them up) Group members should take turns picking one of the attitude cards randomly then just read it silently without sharing it with the rest of the group. (Or if done via telehealth instead of picking a card, the counselor can pick an attitude from one of the cards and send it as a direct message though the “chat” feature on telehealth to the group member who is up for their turn) The person should then make a few statements that represent this attitude, to the best of their ability -. Dictionaries are allowed: If anyone is struggling with one of these attitude types, it can be very helpful to look up the definition

The rest of the group be shown the master list of all 20 of these attitudes and try to guess which one from the list that the group member had selected based on their statement. Once someone successfully guesses the answer, the group should pause to discuss the following two questions based on the selected attitude:

Is this a negative or a positive attitude type?  - Why?


How can this attitude help (make it better) or hurt (make it worse) an already difficult situation?


Example – First player picks “Inflexible” attitude card and says the following “inflexible” sounding statement – “I don’t care about the rest of you people, its my way or the highway and there is no compromise for me!!!”

Follow Up Discussion – Adjusting Your Attitude to Survive and Thrive

Read: In many space-oriented science-fiction movies and shows, one thing the spacecraft pilot always seems to do when trouble is coming is to make sure to “adjust the shields”. Whether it is a laser battle or asteroid field coming up on the horizon, it is so important for the protective shield around the spaceship to be prepared so as to prevent a disaster.

The same is true for humans. Similar to this spaceship illustration, when know we are heading into a potentially challenging emotional situation, we can prepare ahead if time by “adjusting our shields” so to speak. In this case, one key aspect of our protective emotional shield is our attitude. Our attitude can truly help protect us against “attacks” of negativity from others by deflecting negativity before it causes serious damage.


Discussion: Put this into practice as a group by choosing a potentially challenging future situation – If there happens to be an upcoming future situation that the whole group my be facing then the counselor may choose to pick one scenario for everyone to discuss. (Such as preparing for a holiday or other potentially challenging scenario)

For example, holidays can be emotionally challenging in many ways including dealing with difficult family or coping with isolation and loneliness – This discussion can be used for preparing for the upcoming holiday if applicable – If not, group members should come up with their own challenging scenarios

For the scenario selected, each group member should discuss the following

  • What is one attitude you definitely want to avoid for this upcoming situation, and why? (What harm could this negative attitude cause?)

  • What is one positive attitude that you want to focus on for this upcoming challenging situation? What is your specific plan for displaying this attitude when you needed it?

Example – Potentially challenging situation chosen for this exercise is ‘Holiday family gathering” –

Group member says (examples)

  • “At the upcoming holiday gathering I am going to be with my extended family and there are going to be some opinions discussed that I do not agree with – One negative attitude I want to avoid is being argumentative because it is a waste of time to get into stupid fights with people at these kinds of gatherings”

  • At the upcoming holiday gathering, the positive attitude that I am going to focus on is being easygoing. I am just going to go with the flow and watch football, play with the kids, and avoid getting into it with anyone there so I don’t end up getting upset like I did last year which ended up in relapse”

Friday, November 5, 2021

Triggered: A Discussion on Coping with Mental Health and Substance Use

Triggered: A Discussion on Coping with Mental Health and Substance Use

Trigger - n. a stimulus that elicits a reaction. For example, an event could be a trigger for a memory of a past experience and an accompanying state of emotional arousal.

Quite often, when people hear the word “trigger” in a therapeutic context, one may immediately think of substance use and “relapse triggers”. Although substance use is part of this discussion for this exercise, it is important to consider that the idea of feeling “triggered” can also relate to many mental and emotional situations and disorders. Here is a brief list of some life areas where triggers can come into play. Discuss how triggers can come into play in the following areas when they apply:


Substance Use


“Behavioral Addictions” such as gambling, sex, spending, etc.














Mood Swings




Eating Disorder


ADHD/Attention problems


Insomnia/Sleep Disorder


Insecurity/Self-doubt/Self esteem issues




Anxiety in all of its forms including these:

Ø  Generalized anxiety

Ø  Panic attacks

Ø  Social anxiety




So, remember, that a “trigger” is anything that stimulates or instigates a problematic set of symptoms, emotions or behaviors. We can feel “triggered” in many different ways and in many life areas

Exercise: Trigger Wheel

Directions: Use the previous list we just reviewed or add some of your own ideas. Then, choose 5 of these life areas where you could possibly experience feeling “trigged” (If you cannot come up with five, just X out the sections of the trigger wheel that you do not use.) Start your list of 5 life areas where you experience triggers:






Now draw a "trigger wheel" by making a circle with 5 sections. Write your five identified trigger life areas in the wheel by writing one in each section of the wheel . Then, write down some of your actual triggers for these trigger areas within each section. Discuss your Trigger Wheels as a Group