Saturday, March 26, 2022

The Grind Part 8 - "Groaning Period"


Unexpected bad times are bound to happen. We all do what we can to avoid trouble but sometimes we still stumble upon trouble, or even worse, trouble finds us.  Problems will at times happen despite our best intentions. Other times, our own imperfections and areas of weakness and inexperience end up haunting us as we sometimes have to pay for our mistakes. Or sometimes we just screw up and just make a bad decision by doing or saying the wrong thing at the wrong time. This can feel even worse when we know tht what went wrong was our own fault and when we knew better but still stumbled. Sometimes we fail the test, we break the relationship, we wreck the car, we lose the race, we disappoint the boss, etc. Again, this is life's reality whether we personally accept it or not.  

The important thing to draw out of this sad and scary reality is that: Whatever the situation is, we can cope. We are survivors. We are resilient and ready. However, what can we do if at first, we feel overwhelmed? What if during the initial shock of facing adversity, we feel like we cannot fully yet carry on and move forward?

Obviously, if there is ever a safety issue and if anyone ever becomes a potential danger to oneself of others that is a different story needing immediate safety and professional intervention. However, if things are not at crisis level but still, we feel like we cannot yet move forward what can we do? 

Here is one suggestion: One way to start to cope in these challenging situations where we feel stuck, is to accept and implement a “Groaning Period”

A Groaning Period is a coping skill specifically for these types of situations. A groaning period is a brief, predetermined period where we allow ourselves to mope and we allow ourselves to temporarily quit, and we give ourselves permission to sulk in self-pity. Importantly, however, the understanding behind this concept is that once the groaning period is over, we will immediately get back on our feet and keep moving forward. The groaning period must have a definitive end point where we contract with ourselves ahead of time a specific time when to immediately stop the self-pity and get up and get going again, full strength in a positive and productive manner

Note: A groaning period is NOT an excuse for relapse, substance misuse, self-harm, acting out emotionally or engaging in other harmful behaviors

Here is a sample statement how an example groaning period could play out:

“I got fired in spite of my best intentions. I’m crushed, disappointed, hurt and angry. I am going to enter a groaning period of three days. This Friday, Saturday and Sunday I am going to just sit around, sleep, and sulk watch movies and eat ice cream in my pajamas. However, when Monday comes its back to the drawing board, and I am going to wake up early to start a new job search ASAP as I cannot afford to continue to wallow in self-pity. I know that I am resilient, and I will get over this and new opportunities await me if I go out and grab them"

Questions for group:

Have you ever had a situation where you either tried or could have used a groaning period?


What are some rules for an effective groaning period (for example a groaning period should not be an excuse to get high or drunk or engage in other negative habits)?


A groaning period may not be the first choice in a tough situation but when it feels like there is no other plan how can this be an effective tool? For you personally: How can you motivate yourself to keep going in spite of occasional setbacks or adversity?

Saturday, March 19, 2022

Giving Yourself Credit Where Credit is Due


Introduction: News flash: Dealing with substance use issues and addiction is not easy! -  Everyone working on these types of issues faces challenges. Otherwise, if this were easy, then there would not be so many people in the world affected by substance use issues. So, if you are feeling like you are struggling at times, you are not alone, this is normal and to is to be expected. This process takes persistence, time, effort, and hard work, but if you keep at it and do not allow discouragement to take you down then you will succeed!


This brief self-assessment is designed for the purpose of looking at how far you have come. Even if you are new at this, just by showing up and trying you have already come a long way.


Activity - Discuss the following as a group by identifying and describing the last time you were at a “low point” and comparing that with where you are today


Discuss What were was your life like the last time you were really at a low point with substance use issues (include also mental health if that has been an issue for you too) *Keep in mind that this group is for a self-assessment of progress and it is not a contest to see who had it the hardest.  Keep that in mind when sharing and discussing these experiences


Ø When (or how long ago) were you at a low point with your substance use (and if applicable, mental health too)?


Ø What was your life like at that time? – On the following page: Complete the grid by comparing how your life was at your last low point then looking at the progress you have made. You do not need to fill in all the boxes, just the ones that stand out to you. Also, give yourself credit for the progress that you have made! – Complete and discuss the following grid

When everyone is done completing and discussing the progress grid on the following page, close the group with the following questions:


1.   What are some areas that stood out to you the most? (What aspects of your progress are you feeling good about?)


2.   How does it feel now discussing all that you have been through and recognizing the progress that you and other group members have made?


3.   Finally, to end on a really positive note, what types of hopes and future goals are you now inspired to strive for and one day achieve?










Thursday, March 10, 2022

Motivate Me 1 2 3


Motivate Me: 1,2,3,

This activity provides an opportunity for group members to motivate one another. Also remember when we work to motivate others, we motivate ourselves! There is scientific evidence showing that helping others is good for us - Helping others can improve all of the following:

·        Self esteem

·        Our sense of purpose and belonging

·        Our perspective (Helping others can make us more optimistic and hopeful)

·        Our mood and overall sense of happiness

·        Our level of support (Helping others helps build meaningful bonds and friendships)

·        Our motivation (Helping others can inspire positive change in ourselves!)

Opening Activity – Motivate Me 1,2,3

Everyone in the group is encouraged to participate by doing or sharing something motivational for the rest of the group using one of three choices. Each choice has rules for time involved so the counselor or group leader should have a timer available. Here are the three choices


v \\1 Minute Role Play (Partner needed for this one) – Choose another group member or counselor to help you and prepare to act out or talk through a conversation where you help motivate someone through a make believe challenging situation. The role play should be at least one minute long


v 2 Minute Motivational Speech – For this selection all that you need to do is pick a motivational title like “You Can Succeed” or “Reaching Your Goals” (for example) and make a motivational speech based on your chosen topic to the rest of the group. The speech should be at least two minutes


v 3 Minute Video Find a motivational video on YouTube or another video sharing site and watch it as a group. If the video is longer than 3 minutes just watch 3 minutes to get a sample of what it is about. Then, the person who selected the video should be prepared to say a few words as to why they picked that video and what it means to them. The group should be invited to discuss the video as well

 As appropriate have group members discuss presentations by asking people to share what they learned or got out of motivational presentations in this group

Qualities needed to help motivate others:

Discuss the following qualities needed to help motivate and inspire others. As each quality is reviewed, share honestly if this is an area of strength or an area that needs work when it comes to your personal growth

 Passion – Our passion is often contagious. For example, if a person feels passionate about exercise that can help inspire others to work-out. Passion for substance use and mental health recovery can also be very inspirational to others who are also attempting recovery

Authenticity – Being able to show others that we believe in what we are saying is essential for motivating others. Typically, few people want to listen to someone who comes across like they are not genuine. Keeping it real is essential

Confidence – Confidence inspires more confidence. Quite often when we sense someone believes in themselves and what they are preaching, that can be very inspirational when it all comes together the right way. Confidence is not to be confused with cockiness or arrogance which can have the wrong effect and turn people off from listening and engaging. Is your heart in what you say and do?

Empathy – This may not seem obvious at first but consider how much easier it is to be listen and be inspired from someone else when we feel like that person understands us and has insight into our struggle. Understanding others is what empathy is all about and empathy builds bridges between ourselves and others


Selflessness – When another person sincerely expresses a true desire to give of themselves to help others, that can be extremely motivating. The uique sense that someone really wants to give of their time to help can inspire positive change in others


Setting an Example – Finally when someone’s actions match their words and they show by example that they are there to help and inspire others, then that can be very powerful. To the contrary, just talking the talk is not enough to help others because people eventually will sense a hypocrite - especially when actions do not match words. Our example can speak volumes


Closing Discussion:

What are your strengths from this list?

Based on all that you have seen, heard, and discussed today: What do you want to work on?

Finally: Obviously you are most likely in this group to first and foremost help yourself, which is appropriate. Your own recovery should absolutely be a priority. However, as you make progress in this group, then your progress may inspire and encourage others. Working together as a group to encourage one another can be an extremely powerful and motivating experience which is part of the reason why groups are effective and helpful


  • Ø With that said, what is something that you can do to help others in this group? (Anything goes, answers do not need to be “deep” or complicated, sometimes simple answers can be just as helpful)





Friday, March 4, 2022

The Mirror of Awareness – Using the Group as a Mirror

This is a straightforward group activity for building insight. One way that we can increase insight is to objectively look at ourselves through the eyes of others. Other people see us differently than we see ourselves so if we are open-minded about others’ views, we can use these opportunities to learn. This is not to say that other people’s views and opinions about us are always correct because other people clearly can be wrong. However, still there may be some truth to be learned through the eyes of others. We just need to be open minded, look and listen with a positive attitude

The directions for this exercise are as follows: Everyone in the group should get the handout “The Mirror of Awareness” on the following page. Then take turns asking another group member a question about yourself from the selections on the mirror diagram. Listen to what others have to say with an open mind and even if you don’t agree, that is still okay, just let it go. This is just about getting a perspective from others to “see” ourselves through the “mirror” of another’s eyes. Take what you can from feedback and leave the rest

The rules for people answering questions are:

Use polite and respectful language – Speak to others the way you want to be spoken too

Do not be insulting or hurtful (When in doubt, leave it out- If you think the person may be offended then do not say it)

Focus on the inner person, not appearance, physical characteristics, looks or style


Process questions after the group is complete:


1.  How did it feel to get feedback?


2.  How did it feel to give feedback?


3.  What is at least one (or more) things you learned about yourself or at least got a new perspective on?


4.  What are some things that stood out to you from this exercise that perhaps you can use as a positive take away?