Wounding and healing

“Wounding and healing are not opposites. They’re part of the same thing. It is our wounds that enable us to be compassionate with the wounds of others. It is our limitations that make us kind to the limitations of other people. It is our loneliness that helps us to find other people or to even know they’re alone with an illness. I think I have served people perfectly with parts of myself I used to be ashamed of. ” Rachel Naomi Remen

All from a tin can2_4816033794202396630_n.jpg

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Honesty handout

This is a handout I use for groups that tend to be dishonest. 
  1. Figure out why you lie and who you lie to. We’ve all lied at one time or another, to different people, to ourselves, and for different reasons. But coming up with a systematic plan for becoming more honest will be difficult unless you try to define those reasons and those people for yourself.Transformation.jpg
    • Lies to make ourselves look better might include exaggerations, embellishments, and flat-out tall-tales we tell to others, and ourselves, to make ourselves feel better about our inadequacies. When you’re unhappy about something, it’s much easier to fill it in with lies than tell the truth.
    • We lie to peers we think are better than us, because we want them to respect us as we respect them. Unfortunately, being dishonest is disrespectful in the long run. Give people more credit for their ability to empathize and understand you on a deeper level.
    • Lies that avoid embarrassment might include lies told to cover up bad behaviors, transgressions, or any activity we’re not proud of. If your mom found a pack of cigarettes in your jacket, you might lie and say that they’re your friend’s to avoid punishment.
    • We lie to authoritative figures to avoid embarrassment and punishment, including ourselves. When we’ve done something we feel guilty about, lies are told to eliminate the guilt, avoid the punishments, and get back to the objectionable behavior we’re forced to lie about. It’s a vicious cycle.
  1. Anticipate behaviors that will make you feel guilty. To break the chain of embarrassment and lying, it’s important to learn to anticipate things that you’ll likely    feel guilty about in the future, and avoid those behaviors. When you lie, you’re covering up some uncomfortable truth that’s more easily couched in a lie. You can either get comfortable with the truth, or abandon the behavior that makes you embarrassed.
    • If you smoke cigarettes, you won’t have to lie if everyone knows it’s true. Own up to it. If a behavior is un-own-upable, it’s probably best to avoid it. It would be humiliating for your wife to find out that you had an inappropriate relationship with a coworker, but you won’t have to lie if you don’t do it.
  1. Avoid situations in which you’ll have to lie for others. Be wary when someone tells you something in confidence that you know that you should share with someone else (e.g., knowledge of a crime, a lie, or a harmful act against another). Hearing such information puts you in a difficult position, especially when the truth eventually emerges and reveals to the affected person that you knew all along.
    • If someone begins a sentence with “Don’t tell so-and-so about this, okay?” be prepared to offer your own disclaimer: “If it’s something that I’d want to know about were I them, then please don’t tell me. I don’t want to be responsible for anyone’s secrets but my own.”
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It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are. E.E. Cummings


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Setting boundaries

Setting boundaries is an essential skill in life, especially for people in recovery. Addicts often grow up in dysfunctional homes, where boundaries were either too rigid (leading to suppressed emotions or distant relationships) or too enmeshed (depriving them of a sense of personal identity). Later in life, their interpersonal relationships may continue to be defined by old roles and patterns, increasing the risk of depression, anxiety and addictive or compulsive behaviors. f-145

As part of recovery, addicts learn how to set boundaries and to respect other people’s boundaries in return. In the addiction field, treatment providers often refer to this process as embracing the authentic self. While it may sound like psychobabble, it is really a process of discovering who you want to be, how you want to interact with other people, and taking responsibility for the consequences of your choices.

Why are boundaries important? They keep you safe from being manipulated, abused or taken advantage of, while also protecting other people from harm you may consciously or unconsciously inflict. They prevent both parties in a relationship from blurring the lines between self and others, which can lead to enmeshment and codependency. With healthy boundaries in place, you can begin to tune in to your inner voice and trust your own thoughts and feelings, and then communicate those to other people.

Distinguishing Healthy and Unhealthy Boundaries

Without a healthy role model, it can be difficult to know what healthy boundaries look like. First, let’s cover what healthy boundaries are not. They are not threats or attempts to control or manipulate others into doing what you want. They are not rigid rules or “walls” designed to keep people out or shield you from expressing your emotions.

Healthy boundaries are simply a delineation of what type of treatment is acceptable to you, and what consequences will result from violating a boundary. People with healthy boundaries share their thoughts and feelings, take care of their own needs, and are able to say no when necessary.

merge-signBy contrast, people with weak boundaries often:

• Sacrifice their personal values, plans or goals to please others

• Allow others to define who they are and make decisions for them

• Expect others to fulfill all their needs

• Feel guilty when they say no

• Hesitate to share their opinions or assert themselves if they are being treated unfairly

• Frequently feel used, threatened, victimized or mistreated by others

• Frequently offer unsolicited advice, or feel pressured to follow someone else’s advice

• Take responsibility for other people’s feelings

• Tell others how to think, feel or act

A Boundary-Setting Roadmap

Every individual is called upon to set their own boundaries. What works for some may seem either too intrusive or too distant to others. When laying out your boundaries, work through the following steps:

Create a Personal Bill of Rights. Before you can start setting boundaries, you have to recognize your right to have your own feelings, values and beliefs and to express to others how you want to be treated. For some, this requires a colossal leap in self-worth.

Identify Your Emotions. Our parents always admonish us to “think before you act.” When you have a strong response, take a time-out to identify the underlying emotion and figure out what you want to convey. Doing so allows you to interact with other people in an honest, direct way rather than blaming or lashing out.

Set Limits. Once you have a few guidelines in place for how you expect to be treated, practice setting limits with people in a clear, direct way. Examples of healthy boundaries are: “I choose to be around sober people” or “I’ll be happy to talk with you when your voice is calm.”

Assert Your Needs. If you feel that your boundaries are being violated, speak up. This doesn’t mean lashing out or blaming others, but rather assertively communicating your needs. Ask for what you want and say no, politely yet firmly, if something isn’t right for you.

Listen to Your Instincts. If a situation feels uncomfortable or inappropriate, chances are a boundary is being pushed. By tuning into your instincts, you’re more likely to respond in ways that are true to your authentic self.

Defend Your Boundaries. Once you set boundaries, expect that they will be tested. Before this happens, set consequences that you are willing and able to enforce (e.g., “If you continue this behavior, I will…”). Know that by setting limits, you may disappoint the other person, especially if they have weak boundaries themselves. While you should always act with dignity and respect, you can’t control other people’s feelings and behaviors.

If someone continually violates your boundaries, you may need to minimize contact with them, or if they are toxic to your recovery, cut ties altogether. By choosing not to let people violate your boundaries, you stop being the victim, stop blaming others and start reclaiming responsibility for your own life.

Respect Other People’s Boundaries. Just as important as honoring your own boundaries is respecting other people’s, even if they are different from yours. If they don’t have defined boundaries, show them the respect you know they deserve anyway.

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Mood Disorders Across the Lifespan

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RSA ANIMATE: How To Help Every Child Fulfil Their Potential

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Thinking influences

Thinking influences our feelings through the things that we say to ourselves. Unhelpful thoughts can add fuel to the fire and play a large role in keeping anger going after the event has passed. However, using helpful self-statements (or ‘cooling thoughts’) can be a good way to manage our anger and guide our behavior. brainmpExamples of these include:

  • Chill out
  • Calm down
  • Breathe away the anger
  • Don’t yell
  • Don’t give them the satisfaction of seeing you angry
  • It’s not worth it
  • Give them a chance to have a say

 To use this strategy we need to break anger into several stages:

  • Getting ready for provocation: when we know we are going to face something that will make us angry.
  • During the event: early signs of anger are cues to use coping strategies.
  • Coping with stress: early attempts at anger management may not be successful.
  • Reflecting on provocation: time to evaluate the effect of the experience on you, continue coping or give self praise.


Preparing for a provoking situations

  • This is going to upset me but I know how to deal with it
  • What is it that I have to do?
  • Stick to the issues and don’t take it personally
  • Try not to take this too seriously
  • Time for a few deep breaths of relaxation
  • Easy does it, remember to keep your sense of humor

During the event

  • Stay calm, just continue to relax
  • Think of what you want to get out of this
  • There is no point in getting mad
  • It’s really a shame that she has to act like this
  • If I start to get mad I’ll just be banging my head against the wall
  • What he says doesn’t matter. I’m on top of this situation and it’s under control

Coping with stress

  • My muscles are starting to feel tight, time to relax and slow things down
  • It’s just not worth it to get so angry
  • Time to take a deep breath
  • Try to reason it out. Treat each other with respect
  • He’d probably like me to get really angry. Well I’m going to disappoint him Leaving the anger and looking back
  • Try to shake it off. Don’t let it interfere with your job
  • Remember relaxation, it’s a lot better than anger
  • I handled that pretty well. It worked!
  • It could have been a lot worse
  • My pride can sure get me into trouble, but when I don’t take things too seriously, I’m better off
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