Mental Health Recovery Self-Care

Beware: Ridiculousness May Lead to ROFLMAO

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Osho said, “You cannot live without laughter.” He has a wonderful point! When I got sober, it wasn’t the war stories that hooked me but the echoes of laughter in those dungy, smoky meeting halls. For one thing, there were others there who could relate to the mistakes I made and my subsequent suffering. It was there that I discovered my ability to laugh, not at others, but at situations and circumstances otherwise too dark to face. Ultimately, this is what initially gave me permission to begin the letting-go process regarding my shame and fear.

So, a funny thing happens when we introduce something like a laughing practice or laughing meditation in a recovery setting. Initially, it might be awkward for some of us to laugh for no real reason, but then a transformation happens: the laughter becomes genuine laughter, and the tension held within our bodies begins to unravel. Try it: laugh. You can laugh about the ridiculousness of laughing. At some point, the inevitable will occur: the guise of false perception will melt down, and along with the side cramp, you might find you are able to let go of what you think you “should be” and come to find solace in who you are.

According to Osho, there are three kinds of laughter: the first is laughing at others. This type of laughter is inherently unkind and unhelpful, yet also the most common in human behavior. The second is when laughing at ourselves; this type of laughter is definitely something to strive for. It’s not only beneficial but it really helps us lighten up a bit. The third type of laughter is when we laugh–not at others or ourselves, as outlined in the first and second types–but just to laugh. I imagine this type of laughter to be the most freeing of all. I have always been guilty of two things: seriousness and ironically, spontaneous and unfettered bursts of laughter. I rather prefer the latter: it’s proof that laughter allows us to soften and simultaneously open up enough to finally begin to take the world less personally.

Don’t forget,  Rule #62 in the 12×12 says, “Don’t take yourself too damn seriously.”

Mental Health Recovery Self-Care

Pursuing Happiness: Is Your Glass Half Full?

Sometimes I think attitude really is everything. I mean, if we walk into a room with a sour face and a negative attitude, then we are bound to gather the attention of our fellow sourpusses and their pals. These sorts of things act much like Velcro, fastening together similar minds and ensuring an acidic atmosphere remains intact. This trait, in its sheer nature, is not beneficial–to anyone. Yet, despite the knowledge that a change in attitude can purportedly change the outcome of a situation, it’s not always easy to do.

Enter the burgeoning practice of Positive Psychology: According to the University of Pennsylvania, “Positive psychology has three central concerns: positive emotions, positive individual traits, and positive institutions. Understanding positive emotions entails the study of contentment with the past, happiness in the present, and hope for the future.” At the core of positive psychology is a desire to encourage individuals to enhance their strengths in order to be their best selves. This differs from the psychology we are most familiar with, which aims to discover and treat dysfunction. In contrast, this relatively new field of positive psychology places its focus on helping people lead happier, more fulfilling lives. Both of these pathologies are important: when there’s dysfunction, we need to learn how to care for it, which leads to healing. At the same time, we must also learn to acknowledge our strengths so we can expand on them and live more joyfully. Lest we forget, our reactions to pleasant and unpleasant things are a direct result of our experiences; therefore, it’s not uncommon to get lost in the past, disabling one’s ability to thrive in the present.

This is where positive psychology gives us the opportunity to expand on our optimism in a potentially pessimistic, emotional environment. Part of gaining a positive mental attitude is realizing we are not our circumstances. Instead, we soon discover that we can hold those very predicaments with care and intention without getting lost in our feelings about them. Wayne Dyer says, “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” What a wonderful opportunity to begin to skillfully govern our difficulties! At the same time, this doesn’t mean we should be positive by being insincere or pretending to be happy about something we actually find disdainful or troubling. In other words, you don’t have to eat a crap sandwich and pretend you like it. If anything, this is a chance to garnish it with something you do like, including not having that sandwich at all.


Inspired by this: Shawn Achor: The Happy Secret to Better Work

Interesting articles and info about Positive Psychology:

Claremont Graduate University

Mental Health News

Pursuit of Happiness

Mental Health Recovery Self-Care

Self-Care = Kindness

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“When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” Isn’t that how the saying goes? Well, what if you suffer from alcoholism or addiction, or a mental illness, and the thought of self-care never even enters your mind? What if a bowl full of lemons merely represents the puckered, sour taste of your life?

While performing acts of self-care is a learned trait, it’s invaluable once you integrate the practice into your life. I think of the instructions you’re given in an airplane in case of an emergency: “Secure your own mask first before helping others.” Because we can’t always control our environments or the stressors that come and go in our lives, it’s important to have a means of caring for ourselves so we don’t get “knocked over” by life itself. Essentially, if we don’t learn to care for ourselves and ensure our well-being, we become bereft in our abilities to care for others.

You can start small, but I encourage you to start. Pick one or maybe two of these and see how it makes you feel!

  • Make sure you’re getting enough sleep. Sleep deprivation has a slew of negative side effects, including: irritability, reduction in alertness, memory problems, daytime drowsiness, stress and anxiety.
  • Don’t skip meals. Skipping meals adds stress to the body and increases irritability and moodiness.
  • Exercise. Go for a hike, take a walk, do some yoga, go surfing, et cetera. Moving your body raises endorphins and lifts your mood!
  • Read a book or watch a funny movie.  Sometimes taking a mental break and doing something purely entertaining is a great way to take care of ourselves.
  • Do one thing at a time. Yes, this might mean putting the kibosh on multi-tasking! The irony is, you’ll probably get more done.
  • Find a way to “do nothing” for 10 minutes…everyday. It’s a recharge for the brain. Seriously. Yes, that may mean logging off of Facebook for 10 min so you can take some deep breaths. I promise, you won’t actually miss anything.
  • Ask for help if you need it. I honestly think this is the hardest and yet most valuable component of self care. We can’t recover on our own, not from addiction, alcoholism, or mental illness.

As we begin to invest time in ourselves and create space for nurturing and self care, we fortify our hearts. Being able to recognize our needs is paramount in recovery. It’s not selfish to take care of ourselves; it’s an act of kindness.

When in doubt, remember this: “You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.” (Buddha)

Mental Health Parenting Recovery Self-Care Transparency

Father’s Day

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We’re coming up on Father’s Day, and for some, this is a wonderful opportunity to recognize their first hero, their first confidante, or their primary example of “the good guy.” For others, it might mean having to face someone whose trust was lost because of addiction. And for others, it may mean reconciling with the repercussions of not having such an important figure their lives.
I have the pleasure of watching my son and his evolving relationships with his dad and step-dad. I am fortunate to bear witness to their triumphs and struggles, wins and losses, laughter and tears. I understand the inherent value of a healthy, positive father-son relationship, and do all I can do encourage it. 
I was intrigued by this interesting article posted by the Georgia Psychological Association, where Dr. Williams writes about the varying stages of father-son relationships. He says boys often idolize their dads as children, “experience a period of discord” in their teens, begin to evolve as young adults, move into acceptance in their 30s-40s, and eventually “become a legacy of their father’s influence for better and worse” when they reach their 50s and beyond. Seeing my son step onto the path to maturation, I am keenly aware of the need to develop positive habits, some of which need to learned from his father(s). In his case, I am hopeful for a virtuous legacy.
The dynamic between dads and daughters is compelling: Some say girls grow up to marry a version of their dads, while others might carry the nomenclature of “Daddy’s Little Girl” well into their adulthood. There are those, too, who take on the mother figure when mom is absent and dad is left to raise the family on his own. Lastly, there are those whose fathers bailed out, leaving their daughters bereft of a solid, male figurehead. Clearly, things can get complicated. How we manage the complications and find ways to make them palatable is where our recovery work comes in.  As a woman whose relationship with my father is tenuous at best, the tools of my recovery have become invaluable. Learning to let go, learning not to take things personally, learning to remove the ego from the pain of abandonment, and learning to accept that I am sufficient, have become essential. Without these factors, I risk drowning in emotion, a perilous position for any alcoholic/addict.
So, regardless of your relationship with your dad, be it adoring or nebulous, being in recovery gives us the opportunity to develop some kindness and compassion and teaches us how to put it all to good use. (This may actually mean setting a boundary and showing compassion to yourself in some cases!). As we work the steps, we are given the opportunity to change our unskillful behaviors through taking action. After inventories, which require inward reflections, we begin to change our viewpoint and begin taking the appropriate actions toward making positive changes in our relationships with others. It’s the beginning of a lifelong process that teaches us to lesson our expectations, which ultimately increases our ability to accept things as they are.
May this this Father’s Day bring some healing to your hearts and lives. And may you celebrate with an open heart and a compassionate mind,  one breath at a time.
Addiction Feelings Mental Health Mindfulness Recovery Self-Care Spirituality


Resilience: That’s something an addict/alcoholic discovers in their back pocket when they overcome a difficult situation. It’s the ability to bounce back after the multitude of knocks we’re sure to get just by being alive.

In the using days, problems often seemed unsurmountable, so the only way to “deal with it” was to drink or use. In sobriety, that’s no longer an option. Instead, we sometimes try to “deal with it” by shopping, gambling, sex, video games, food, exercise, you name it. In the end, those behaviors don’t really correct the problem.

Sobriety presents us with an opportunity to learn how to live without the crutches of drugs and alcohol. Instead of infusing ineffective “solutions” to mounting troubles, we now have a toolbox equipped with the 12 steps. One by one, step by step, viable solutions will unfold. Before we know it, the hard work pays off, and our proverbial tool box gets filled with a variety of options. Mine has, anyway.

When I come across an aversive situation, I now have choices. I start with the foundation: the 12 steps, remembering I can approach difficulty one breath at time if need be. Or I might  engage the tools of a meditation practice, asking myself, “Am I breathing?”  Try it. You might even discover that you’ve been holding your breath!  Other times, I might engage the tools garnered from my yoga practice, asking myself,  “Am I present?” The majority of the time, however, it’s a combination of all three, allowing me to season my responses/reactions accordingly.

Recovery teaches us to face adversity with an open heart and a present state of mind. It teaches us that our previous acts of avoidance merely created a diversion to feeling better. The wreckage of our past proves when we walk around the issue, the solution feels and often is unattainable.  Here, in sobriety, we learn to “uncover, discover, and discard,” rather than to “run, hide, and duck for cover.”  So, if/when you find yourself faced with adversity, ask yourself this: “Is my reaction helpful or harmful?” If nothing else, you’ve provided yourself with a break and an opportunity to do the right thing.

Related articles:

Kevin Griffin: A Buddhist Approach to Recovery: Step Four — Searching and Fearless (

Addiction Alcoholism Recovery Self-Care

Love and Boundaries

What happens when someone you love relapses and decides not to get sober again?
Regardless of whether that person is a parent or a close friend, it’s a challenge, to say the least. In AA, we are told  “we simply do not stop drinking so long as we place dependence upon other people ahead of dependence on a higher power¹” This statement alone verifies the need to allay one’s reliance upon the static nature of the sick, and instead turn the focus on paving a new path toward healing.

In 1951, Al-Anon began using the steps, giving those married to and reared by the alcoholic, tools with which they could live by. One thing is key: Al-Anon and Alateen don’t focus or talk about the alcoholic; they instead focus on themselves and learn how they can lead a happier, freer life. Here, the lesson is not to fix the person we love, but rather how to live life fully and independent of their disease. That’s tough, especially when  our expectations have taken hold: “If only they get sober, then everything will be okay.” or  “I’m not the one with the problem, they are.” But when we place our focus on fixing someone else’s problems, obsess over their emotional health, and base our lives around their well-being, that IS a problem.

Alateen is a wonderful support for kids struggling with alcoholic/addict parents or siblings. When chaos is the norm, then Alateen provides tools for weathering the storm. As kids living with alcoholics and addicts know, reaffirming reality in their day-to-day lives is the norm; the steps and fellowship: however, help provide a healthy, non-threatening way to do that. At some point, we find that part of supporting someone else’s sobriety means allowing them to walk their own path, no matter how rocky that path may be. We can’t walk it for them. If that means that their sobriety is tenuous at best, then we have to learn how to step aside. I call it loving someone with boundaries. In other words, we can love you when you’re in your disease, but we won’t hold you up.

¹ BB Page 98 (Note: “God” was replaced with “higher power” in the post.)


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