Tuesday, August 30, 2022

The Grind Part 12 -Before You're Rude, Subdue the Mood


When working our way through the grind of life, many of us can be subject to a bad mood every now and then. If you are one of those people who never is in a bad mood, then this may not be for you. However, if you are one of those people who occasionally goes to that dark place mentally, then this is for you. Sometimes moods can be triggered and sometimes mood swings come up unexpectedly. No matter what the reason may be, it is important to use our coping skills to escape the darkness. However, the main topic here is to focus on what NOT TO DO during a bad mood.

The simple rule is expressed in the picture: Don’t let your bad mood lead you to use bad words. In other words, it can be tempting to say mean, insensitive, blunt, or even hurtful or regrettable things when caught up in the middle of a bad mood. If the mood itself is dark enough, it may even feel justified to say the wrong thing to the wrong person. Even worse, when the mood is over, there can be huge amounts of regret later on over what was said. The sad thing is, that you cannot take it back. So, like the saying says “Don’t mix your bad words with your bad mood”

The following questions are for self-awareness building, thought and discussion on this topic

Mood Triggers – What can set you off and trigger a bad mood? Are there certain times of day or other circumstances where a bad mood is more likely for you?


“I don’t wake up well and I know the first 20-30 minutes after I wake up there is an increased chance I will be in a mood”

"I get into bad moods when the weather is rainy, and I am stuck inside for too long"

"My mood goes to a bad place when work stress builds up for too many days in a row"

Mood Reminders – What are some “rules” and reminders that can help you do damage control when you are in a bad mood.


"When I am in a bad mood, I will try not to answer phone calls or texts until I calm myself down. I don’t want to say something I will regret"

"When I am in a bad mood, I will try to stay away from people who might set me off, so I don’t tell someone off"

"When I am in a bad mood, I will pause any serious decision making until my mood has lifted"


Mood Escapes – What are some healthy ways to improve your bad mood? (Examples: Relaxation, exercise, walking, breathing, praying, laughing, reading, writing, playing an instrument, spending time with pets, hobbies, etc.?) – 

Come up with a few of your own that work for you

Thursday, August 25, 2022

Three Ps for Coping with Anxiety in the Moment


Intro- Sometimes things come up suddenly or unexpectedly in life that can be very stressful which can produce a lot of anxiety. This exercise is about coping skills for getting through these anxious moments using the Three P’s:

1.    Pause

2.    Positive

3.    Proceed


Each is described below:


Pause – When anxious thoughts are going on, they are usually racing. So, pausing even for less than a minute or even a few second can be a game changer. During a brief pause in the middle of an anxious and stressful moment is like hitting the reset button on an overactive mind. There are many things’ that can be done during this brief pause so pick something that works for you or use a combination of skills. The most important thing is that you learn to use a pause to get your mind off of things long enough to reflect and refocus.


Some skills people use during pauses from anxiety:


Ø Deep breathing

Ø Counting

Ø Positive imagery

Ø Repeating a calming word or phrase “Breathe!” or “Slow down” for example

Ø Praying (if applicable to you)

Ø Grounding (Use your senses to escape by listening to the wind blow, or feeling the arms of the chair with your hands or visualize a positive scene or memory or focus on something in the environment)

Positive - Once you have paused and slowed your mind down, it is so helpful to learn positive self-talk. This effective anxiety coping tool involves examining a situation and reframing it by emphasizing something positive over the negative. It can be helpful to focus on what you can control instead of what is beyond your control. Some examples:


Ø Negative thought “What am I going to do if ____ happens!!!? – Positive self-talk can be something like “It may be stressful if ____ happens but I’ll find a way to get through it, I always do!”


Ø Negative thought – “This person (or situation) is making me feel really uncomfortable and I am stuck, and I can’t leave! – Positive self-talk may be something like “I can get through this if I just keep my cool as best I can and wait it out, then I’ll be out of this situation soon enough


Ø Negative thought – “People are going to make me lose it” – Positive self-talk may be “I can’t control what others do or say, but I can control what I say and do so I will focus on that”


Proceed – This final step is so important because learning to cope with anxiety often means pushing through some challenges and proceeding forward in spite of anxious feelings and thoughts. There may be times in life when you might feel that you need to leave. However, in most situations if you can calm yourself effectively you can proceed forward even though you are experiencing anxiety. This can take practice but gradually learning over time to function when you are uncomfortable actually expands your comfort zone and increases your resilience and ability to self-calm. For example, consider how much worse anxiety is the first time you do something compared with the 10th time if you stick with it and don’t give up. Proceeding forward when you can even if it’s just a little, every effort makes you stronger. Sometimes that first step forward is all you need (Again this is not meant to shame anyone who has left a situation because of anxiety as that can happen to the best of us on occasion especially when there is a history of anxiety or panic disorder)

Exercise – Apply the Three Ps in Anxiety Producing Scenarios

Read each scenario below. These scenarios were written based on some common anxiety producing life situations including:

·       Performances

·       Meeting new people (especially in groups)

·       Dating

·       Distressing public situations and crowds

·       Confrontation

·       Stating your views (especially when not a popular one in the moment)


Read each scenario and as a group work through how you can use the Three Ps (Pause, Positive, Proceed) to get through the moment,


Nervous Performance – Surprise! - You’ve just been recognized! – You are in a situation at work where the boss publicly praises you for your hard work and accomplishments and now your room full of coworkers is all cheering you on asking you to tell everyone how you did what you did so well. They won’t take no for an answer and want a speech. One person is even holding up a camera. You are on the spot  


Urine Trouble – You need to go to the bathroom pretty seriously and it cannot wait much longer. The only bathroom nearby is very dirty and crowded with a lot of commotion and has limited privacy


Distressing Date – You are out in public on a date, and you are in a newer relationship and suddenly you run into your partner’s family unexpectedly. You know the family is from a very different background and your partner has told you in the past that they are loud and not shy about asking a lot of personal questions


Taking a Stand – You suddenly find yourself stuck in a social situation with a large group of people whom you know but not super closely. Soon, the group is now doing something that you disagree with, and your view may be unpopular with others. You don’t have an out so its either express your viewpoint or stay quiet and just follow the crowd even though you disapprove of what it looks like is about to happen


Stranger Danger – A friend begs you to come out with them to a social gathering and the friend swears to you that there will be people there you know. You get there and you do not know a single person except your friend, who suddenly disappears and leaves you alone to fend for yourself socially


Wacked-Out Waiting Room – You are in a situation where you have to sit in a waiting room that is crowded with a lot of activity. People are loud and it’s not uncommon for some random person to try to make small talk with you. You need this appointment, and you can’t go outside as you don’t want to miss getting called so you cannot escape


Feared Firing – On Monday morning at work you find out from a coworker that there was a big misunderstanding last week at work that involves something you said or did and your coworker warns you that your boss may be really upset with you. You see your boss approaching in the distance with a serious look


Perplexing Promotion – Your boss just gave you a promotion with a significant raise that was way too good to turn down and you need the money and the job (cannot quit). On the first day back at work after you take the promotion your boss tells you that you will be accompanying her to visit several of your coworkers (most of whom you know and used to work with) to help her write them up for disciplinary action


If time or perhaps in a follow up session, discuss some of your own life scenarios, past or present and analyze how to use the Three P’s to effectively cope with anxiety in these situations. At the very end review what group members will take home from this exercise




Thursday, August 18, 2022

Staying the Course Toward Success – Know the SIGNS

 This exercise is for people who have made some progress and now want to “stay the course” in a positive direction. If we know the signs and take heed of them, we can avoid setbacks and pitfalls.  These activities are focused on identifying and discussing some of these important signs.


Opening Exercise – “Then and Now”

Directions – Everyone should consider the following boxes below which compare your thinking, feelings, attitude, motivation, and behaviors in the past (THEN) contrasted with the same areas NOW in your life. After everyone has had a chance to think this over discuss your thoughts on your life THEN and NOW 

*Each person can decide the approximate time and age in their life under the heading “THEN”. Choose a time when you may have been struggling - *Examples are provided in [brackets] to help 

Follow up:

THEN - “I (Wish) I Saw the SIGNS”

At the point in life when you may have been headed in a negative direction what were some of the SIGNS that you can see now?  - For example: “When I was first starting to spiral out of control with drugs, I was associating with some really negative people, and I was really running from a lot of my feelings and problems at that time”




NOW – “I Know the SIGNS so Now I Can Survive and Thrive”

Once again: When we know the signs that things may be taking a turn for the worse, we can prevent and redirect setbacks before its too late. As a group discuss some of the signs that might show you are veering off course and headed in the wrong direction with your goals for positive change and recovery. [Again, some examples provided]



[It’s a bad sign when I start thinking that I don’t need anyone’s support and I start getting overconfident]






 [If my anxiety, stress, and fears start getting the best of me, it’s a bad sign]






 [When I stop caring it’s a sign my attitude is going downhill]






[Procrastination and avoidance (“I’ll do it tomorrow”) show that I am losing my motivation]






[If I start lying, making excuses, and keeping secrets it can mean I am taking a turn for the worse.]





This can be a useful tool to stay on a positive path. Now that this has been shared with the group, everyone can help support one another. Also, it’s a good idea to share this with at least one (or more) people who care about you and who are willing to tell you when some of the SIGNS listed are present.

Knowing the SIGNS can help you reflect and redirect to stay on a course toward success!


Wednesday, August 10, 2022

What You Should Know About Me

What People Should Know About Me: 

This is a group icebreaker to help allow everyone to express themselves and their viewpoints and at the same time learn more about one another. For each item listed below, go around the group allowing everyone to share something about themselves related to the topic. Remember this is an icebreaker so it is okay to keep it simple. It is likely that there may be more about you than can be said in just one statement. However, this is not about telling your deep life story but rather just sharing some interesting thoughts about yourself to build group cohesion.  So, try to keep you answers to one or two sentences. Some examples are provided to help:


Humor – Example – “I love to laugh but I am not so great at making other people laugh”


Friendship – Example – “I am the type of friend that will have your back no matter what comes until you cross me or backstab me, then it’s over”


Strong Beliefs – Example – “I don’t get offended easily except that I cannot stand when anyone hurts animals as I strongly believe in being kind to animals”








Strong Beliefs








Substance Use




Stubborn areas (challenges)




Areas needing improvement


Topics I know a lot about






Education and work


Values (What’s important)


Goals, hopes and dreams


Random (Anything about anything)






·       Based on what you heard during this exercise, who is someone here who you have something in common with?



·       What is one thing that you can bring to this group for as long as you are here as a participant in this program?



·       Whether you are here voluntarily or you are mandated or somewhere in between, what is one thing that you hope to get out this group experiences before you are done?


Wednesday, August 3, 2022

Major Life Aspects of the Disease of Addiction

The following information discusses how addiction can impact one’s life physically, mentally/behaviorally, and spiritually and then aspects of recovery in the same three life areas (Part 2). Each person’s experience and recovery is unique so not every item mentioned may apply as some will, but some will not. Keep in mind, the physical aspects of addiction can be specific to the type(s) of substances or behaviors involved. Also, “spiritual’ in this discussion refers to a broader view of one’s sense of meaning and purpose and personal belief system and goals as opposed to a specific type of “spirituality” or belief system - Review and discuss the following:

The Life Impact of Addiction: