Friday, January 28, 2022

The Grind Part 6 - Grind Through Boredom (Before it grinds through you…)


Life does not owe anyone continuous stimulation, excitement, or entertainment. “I’m bored” has become a phrase that is often over-emphasized as an exaggerated catastrophe, kind of like someone saying that they have been diagnosed with a disease, or they just broke their leg or found out their wallet was stolen. In reality, at its worst, boredom is just uncomfortable.  Yet it is hardly a tragedy or crisis to be bored every now and then. Rather than look at boredom as a malady, emergency, or a stroke of misfortune, why not embrace the challenge of boredom? Boredom does not need to be unpleasant. This idea of embracing boredom may seem outlandish at first but when thinking deeper about it, boredom often means that there is time available. Time is actually a resource so having open time can be viewed as a strength. Therefore, rather than experiencing “having nothing to do” as a weakness, embracing boredom requires accepting the challenge to fill this open time with something positive.


In essence, the “cure” to boredom is finding something interesting to do with the open time allotted. “There’s nothing to do” is a fallacy that needs to be reframed by the bored mind. There is always something to do. So, saying to oneself “I need to find something to do” is a much more strength-based perspective to conquer temporary states of boredom.  What we find for ourselves to do may not feel interesting at first. This is because quite often, for something to become interesting, this first takes patience and persistence. Often, interest is an “acquired taste” so to speak

Consider an analogy: If someone were to say “I’m hungry but there’s nothing to eat” – then the obvious cure would be to get something to eat. However, if this person were trapped at home and unable to go out to get something to eat, then one solution would be to go through the cabinets and find a clever way to whip up a new dish to try to alleviate the hunger. In this case “picky eaters” may need to expand their tastes and try new things or new combinations of old things cooked up or prepared in a new way, possibly with new spices or sauces. People often learn to like these new dishes that arise through experimentation and trial and error.

Boredom follows the same course. If it feels like there is “nothing to do” and “nowhere to go” then attacking this situation by trying to experiment with new ideas or combinations of old ones can fill that feeling of boredom the same way the hungry person stuck at home resolved their hunger. The same principle of experimentation, trial, and error as well as “spicing up” old ideas with new perspectives and ideas can be the resounding answer to the boredom question.

The truth is that “boredom happens” to the best of us and it can be expected in a situation involving substance use or mental health recovery.  However successful people learn to master these moments of boredom rather than falling victim to them - When handled correctly, boredom does not need to be a trigger or a barrier or even something to fear. Rather, when we embrace the challenge of boredom then boredom can instead be:

An opportunity

A motivator

A pathway to (healthy) curiosity and creativity

A serendipitous encounter with new ideas

A fortuitous chance to try new things and develop new interests

The doorway to expanding our mind, our knowledge, our experience and our perspective


Discussion Questions:

Consider some of the following ways to grind through boredom (even if it is not easy at first)


1.   People – Ex “I was bored so I finally called that person who gave me their number at the AA meeting and over time we became good friends”



2.   Places – “I got so bored I went to the library for the first time since I was a kid and at first it was awkward now, I love going there”



3.   Creativity – “Instead of mindlessly surfing the internet, now I create my own content as I have a blog and record videos about my experiences with mental health and addiction”



4.   Learning – “I used to complain all the time how bored I was then I started using YouTube videos to learn how to play guitar and also to learn how to speak French which I now practice weekly”



5.   Simple ideas - “I got so bored that I put a coat on opened the front door and just started walking. Now I love walking and I make sure to do it every day”



6.   Outside the box – “I used to make fun of people who knit and now I have a list of people waiting for me to make them a scarf or hat”



7.   Persistence – “In the past every time I tried reading, I got frustrated and gave up but it but eventually I caught the fever for reading and I finish a book a week and love it”



8.   Other? – What else can you think of as a strategy to use boredom to your advantage?



Thursday, January 20, 2022

Integrity Self Exploration


Introduction: Read and discuss the following statements as a group while trying to be as honest and open with yourself and the group as possible.

Would you rather…

Be hurt by the truth or comforted by a lie

Be uncomfortable yet open or “safe” but secretive (About yourself in this group)

Experience the sting of pain from confessing a mistake or the slow and steady stress of concealing your errors

Struggle honestly today with a clear conscience or get ahead faster through scams and deceit

Walk away from a fight to maintain inner peace or engage in a confrontation but deal with lingering drama

Face the music on your own terms now or run from the consequences knowing they may catch you later

Take the hard road now with self-respect or take the easy way out and risk remorse or regret

Questions like these are related to the important topic of integrity


Integrity is an important human quality that can be difficult to define. Here is one definition:

Integrity (noun)

Adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character;

 the state of being “whole”


Digging Deeper (Discuss)


Think of a bridge – Would you cross a bridge if someone told you the “integrity” of the bridge is compromised? – Why not?


Part of the definition of integrity says that it involves being “whole” – What do you think that means?

o   To help put that in perspective, how is a person who lacks integrity “divided”?


Now please share your own personal experiences with integrity by discussing these questions:


1.   You’ve reviewed the definition of integrity but now share what does integrity mean to you personally?


2.   Can you think of a time in life when your integrity was put to the test? – How did it work out?


3.   Sometimes doing the right thing can bring some discomfort, stress, and even pain (at least at first) – How have you taken the hard road with a decision in life in order to maintain integrity?


4.   One way to learn about integrity is to see how a person deals with adversity – How do you tend to deal with life’s unexpected challenges today?


5.   Keeping it real – Would others say you have integrity? Who do you believe feels this way about you?


6.   Finally, what helps you build integrity in your own life?

Four Keys to Personal Integrity Building

Life in this world can be hard so don’t feel discouraged because building and maintaining integrity is an ongoing effort for everyone alive today. Life has many, many challenges that test our integrity

Here are four key aspects of building and maintaining integrity


1 – Honest Self Awareness (Self-Honesty) – Ask yourself the difficult questions and don’t hide from the uncomfortable answers. Below are some examples of self-questions when facing an integrity challenge:

·  Is there something I need to change here (even if I don’t necessarily want to)?

·   Am I avoiding the truth or running from reality in this situation?

·   Even though I feel I am right, is there a possibility I am actually wrong?

·   Am I just making excuses to avoid responsibility?

·   Am I blaming other people or circumstances when I really need to look in the mirror about this?


2 – Accountability, Acceptance and Ownership – When faced with a challenge, can you honestly make the following self-statements?


·        “I accept my role and own my part of the problem and of the solution”

·         “I will work on what I need to reasonably and ethically do to make things better even if it comes at a hardship to me”

·        “I will see this through to the end (if possible) and not try to escape my commitment to this issue”


3 – Consult and Plan with the Right People – People with integrity surround themselves with others who have integrity. Consider the following questions:

·        Are there honest and upright people in my life who will tell me the truth, even if it is uncomfortable?

·        Are these people available to consult with when I am facing a challenge?

·        Am I distancing myself from people who try to get me to compromise my ethics and principles?


4- Decisions and ActionsTrue integrity is defined by the choices we make and the actions we take. Talking the talk is a good start but walking the walk is the real sign of a life of integrity. Consider the following

·        Are my current goals in line with a life of honesty, self-respect, and trustworthiness?

·        Could I be considered a role model to others (like family and friends, and especially children?)

·        Am I preparing myself to face and make the difficult decisions in life when I need to?

·        (To the degree I can, as we all make mistakes) – Are my actions mostly congruent with my principles? (Avoiding duplicity or hypocrisy)


Final “Take Home” Questions


What is one (or two) things that you will take with you from this discussion?


What is one thing you can start doing today (or at least very soon) to increase integrity and make self-improvement toward your recovery and personal life goals?




Wednesday, January 12, 2022

"Roll" Play...aka "This May Get Dicey"


“Roll” Play…aka This May Get Dicey – This is a group activity to encourage group cohesion building, open-sharing and discussion. Simply take turns rolling two dice and follow the corresponding directions for each roll

If there are no dice available or if this group is being done via telehealth, then you can use this virtual dice roller. Use the top “Virtual Dice Roller” but set it to 2 dice. -

If after playing the game for more than one turn, a player gets the same roll again, they player should just do something a little different than he or she did the first time that they rolled that number.

Scoring (optional) – Group members get one point for each successfully completed task and a bonus point if the bonus suggestion is completed for that roll as well – If scoring used, select a scorekeeper before starting




SAY ANYTHING – Say anything that you want to the rest of the group to hear (As long as it is not mean, insensitive or offensive) – BONUS If this is done in person while standing up



MEMORABLE - Tell someone something you might remember one day in the future about them or something that they said – BONUS if you pick someone who has a different type of lifestyle than you right now


SHARED LIKE – Tell the group about something that you like and then try to pick one person in the group who you either know or think likes this too – BONUS if you get it right (No drug answers please)



APPRECIATE - Tell someone something you admire or appreciate about them – BONUS if you select someone in the group whom you do not interact with that often



FEELING STATEMENT – Share your feelings by completing this sentence: I feel (Choose feeling word) about or when... (complete the rest) – BONUS if the counselor decides that you gave a heartfelt and meaningful answer about your feelings



SELF SHARE – What is something about you that you have not yet ever shared in this group? (Does not have to be “deep” – Anything goes as long as its new) – BONUS if the group agrees that this is indeed something new you have not shared before



RELATE - Tell someone in the group what you relate to about them – BONUS if you pick someone who tends to be more quiet, shy or reserved in the group



ADVICE - Tell someone something that you feel might be helpful for them – BONUS if the person receiving the advice agrees this was healthy and helpful feedback



LEARN – Find out something new by asking someone in the group about something that you don’t know about them – BONUS if you pick someone from as different of an age group as possible


WHY - Ask someone an interesting why question – BONUS if you let someone else pick who you ask



OPINION – Give your opinion on any topic of your choice – BONUS if you let someone else pick the topic

If using scoring: At the end of the group have the person with most points get a reward that was predetermined by the counselor before the group (For example a treat of some kind if available, get to leave 5 minutes early, get to choose tomorrow’s topic, get to pick a song for the group to listen to and discuss etc. – be creative


Wednesday, January 5, 2022

Starting and Staying on a Positive Note


This exercise is designed for anyone who is ready to reevaluate where they are in their overall plan for making positive changes related to substance use and any coexisting mental health or other conditions. However, even if you are already on an established path toward positive change and recovery, you can still benefit from this exercise by simply checking in on some key aspects involved in making and sustaining positive changes for growth and progress toward your substance use and mental/emotional life goals.


Directions – As a group review and discuss the following areas that can be essential aspects of “starting and staying on a good note” in the positive change process. The counselor/group leader should decide to do this exercise one of two ways:


General Group Discussion – Depending upon time and overall willingness of group members, it may be easier to just talk through each section with no writing involved. If using telehealth this may be optimal


In Depth Write and Review – For more motivated groups with members who are ready to do some more effort and hard work, have everyone write down their answers to each section as a worksheet. Then discuss completed worksheets as a group



Starting and Staying on a Positive Note:

Discussion Areas: Parts 1, 2 and 3


Part 1 – Building Momentum


Rid Yourself – To achieve your goals what do you need to remove or get rid of in your life?






Keep Close By – Who and what do you have in your life now that helps you on your path to progress?






Add On or In – What else do you think you could add on or into your life that would help you to keep moving in a positive direction? (For example: Supports, hobbies, coping skills, new job, etc.)






To-Do List – In the next month or two, what are a few essential things on your life “To-Do List”?






Not-To-Do List – What are a few things you are going to do your best NOT to do in the next few months





Part 2 – Sustaining Progress: Keeping Life Moving Forward and Upward



Stay Awake and Aware (Insight) – This can be challenging but think of how you are going to keep your goals in front of you, so you don’t “fall asleep” on your progress and slip back into older negative ways of thinking (or not thinking clearly because of a lack of self-awareness)





Sustaining Forward Motion (Internal Motivation) – Making progress is a process with ups and downs in motivation from day to day. How can you remember every day to keep trying without giving up? How can you keep the fire of motivation burning inside of you on a daily and long- term basis?





Push From the Outside (External Motivation and Support) – What is your plan to involve others to help you stay on the right path? Who can help “correct or redirect” you when you start to step out of line?





Inspiration – Who or what inspires you to keep going on a deeper more meaningful level?





Part 3 – Measuring Progress


How will you know for sure that you are making progress? (Counting days alone is not enough)- How can you measure the quality of your progress in addition to quantity?


The Taking the Escalator Method is focused on enhancing and sustaining these three essential qualities in the diagram (Insight, Internal Motivation and External Motivation/Support) to establish and drive the positive changes needed for inspiration and progress toward treatment and overall lifestyle goals