“WHEN YOU KNOW BETTER YOU DO BETTER.” OPRAH.

Sometimes it’s easy to be really hard on ourselves and heap on the blame – for everything. That is an example of irrational thinking and hurtful, negative self-talk. We and therapists need to listen to our Meta Model clues or violations. The Meta Model will be explained more later.

Due to a faulty belief/values system our map of reality becomes clouded or distorted. Recovery Theme Six points out that “People always make the best choice available to them at the time.” There could have been many other choices had we been aware of them or stopped to examine them.

But, “Every behavior is useful in some context” as Recovery Theme Seven tells us. Even illicit drug use or other crimes are useful in some way. They’re just not legal. Selling drugs to support a habit could be useful. Quick cash, no forty hour week, pays the bill now, are all reasons one could find to use or do crime.

But, it’s not a matter of “will you be caught? It’s a matter of when.” And if you always do what you’ve always done…you know what will happen. Back to the slammer. If you live.

So, trying to build a “New You” is about discovering and exploring more new and better choices. Carl Rogers said “Clients have the ability to explore and resolve their own issues given a healthy environment.” Hopefully this blog will provide the healthy platform you need. And remember, Choice is Better Than No Choice (Recovery Theme Number Eight). You will learn more and better choices here so you can do better.

YOU ARE NOT BROKEN

You, I and people in general sometimes seem overwhelmed or like we have met our end. There is an ebb and flow to life. It has its ups and downs. But we sometimes irrationally take it to mean the end, or failure.

Nobody is 100% successful at 100% of what they do 100% of the time. I lose track of this just like others do. Why? Maybe it’s the expectation of perfection all the time. But that just does not happen.

So, learning to question our self-talk can help. It can help to learn effective re-framing techniques. It’s good to learn to not be so hard on ourselves. How we define success and failure is important.

Tiger Woods has an interesting philosophy. To paraphrase him, “You get out of it [life] what you put into it. If you don’t succeed or get a lot out of it you didn’t work hard enough. You don’t deserve it.”

Maybe he is being too hard on himself. We know that he has worked hard his whole life at his profession. He is having a difficult time now. But he has not quit.

Persistence and patience are important. But we must have S.M.A.R.T. Goals as well. Having been trained (the right education for your goal) is important. Then, one should have a fair chance or opportunity to succeed. Opportunity is important.

But without desire and the necessary drive none of these will work on their own. So it’s important to understand how we work so that we can improvise to adapt to ever changing (ups and downs) life situations.

You’re not broken states Recovery Theme #5. You simply need to learn how you function best.

MORE AND BETTER CHOICES OF FEELINGS, EMOTIONS AND BEHAVIOR

This is about Recovery Theme Number Four. Why people use has been covered previously. As with all behavior we humans tend to move away from pain and toward pleasure.

That’s why we use alcohol and other drugs. We want to feel different (away) from how we feel to how we expect (toward) to feel. We probably want to feel better.

But if all we know to get out of this rut is alcohol or other drugs then that is the behavior choice we will make. Requisite (required) variety of choices can help people make better choices and changes. In this case, to change alcohol or other drug using behaviors.

Now, it’s time for a test. Looking at the behavior choice part of the map we can see that just prior to that are feelings and emotions. If we have more tools (requisite variety) for changing our feelings and emotions, then, we have a better chance to make the appropriate behavior choice: to remain abstinent. That’s what we are doing here. Creating more tools.

UNDERSTANDING RECOVERY THEMES ONE, TWO AND THREE

Just reading over this information is not good enough. It’s important that you master the concepts. Now is the time to go back over these three ideas.

In a prior post you were introduced to the Cognitive Behavior Map. I mentioned before that the map should be mastered as well. Go back and study that to make sure you have an understanding.

Notice what you are noticing. How do Recovery Themes one, two and three relate to the map? What about self-talk? How we communicate with ourselves may be just as important as how we talk with others.

We tend to move toward pleasure and away from pain. The way we communicate with others can produce painful or pleasurable feelings and emotions for those people. For us too.

We’ve heard of toxic people. Some people may tend to be more negative than others. Do you tend to want to associate more often with negative or positive people?

It’s been said that we get what we think about. If we are always thinking negative we may always get negative outcomes. Limiting beliefs can lead to irrational thoughts, feelings, emotions and then – behavior.

Yes. This can have a cause and effect relationship with substance abuse. So you see: The meaning of our communication is so important because we get what we throw out there. It’s important to be careful how we talk with ourselves too.

THE REALITY IS…

There is only perception. People respond to their own map of reality and not reality itself.

We arrive at the here and now with all that has been imprinted and learned in our lives. So, what’s been imprinted? Fair question. The answer is all of our beliefs, values and attitudes about how it ‘really’ is. These become our reality.

How is this important to any of us? Here are a few examples.

Suppose we are observing a drug court client going through the process while we get to watch a split-screen of a drug court judge’s reaction to how the client is doing.

Based on the client’s map of reality it is okay to use alcohol and other drugs as well as to commit the crimes for which she/he has been charged. These crimes are by definition anti-social. But the client believes they are okay.

The judge on the other hand is thinking maybe this person does not get it. Maybe this client is just refusing to comply or change. Again, by definition, the judge is looking at the situation from a pro-social criminal justice point of view.

Between the two parties someone’s map of reality must change if the client is to be successful in the program and graduate. And – you can bet it is not the judge’s map that must change.

One of the judge’s in my area is known to tell the clients that “society is not going to change for you. It is you who must change your thinking and behavior (your map of reality).

The mother of the client may be saying “the reality is that the judge is not being fair with my boy.” The prosecutor’s map is saying that “the client needs to go to jail.” The public defender is saying “no, my client needs to be free so he can work and support his family.” If this involved a burglary the victim is saying “he’s got to pay me back and then he can go to jail.”

We are talking about the same event (remember the map) but we can see that each party has a different perception or reality of what has been done and what needs to be done.

That is Recovery Theme #3 in a nutshell. There is no such thing as reality. People respond to their map of reality and not reality itself.

The good news is…these maps can be changed. More on that to follow.

COMMUNICATION, FEELINGS AND EMOTIONS

The meaning or quality of the communication is the response that you get. Communication is about getting the intended response from the listener. Is the recovery message clear? This is Recovery Theme number two.

Can the effectiveness of our communication with others affect our feelings and emotions. Think of a time in your experience when you were in a debate. Or, maybe a heated discussion with a significant other. Have you ever arrived at the point where you were frustrated? Or even angry.

I know I’ve experienced that. Maybe the more important the issue the more frustrated or angry one could become. Frustration is a feeling. Anger is an emotion.

As can be seen by the map in a previous post, it is feelings and emotions that precede behavior choices and outcomes. Does self-talk matter? By the way. It might be a good idea to master the map as we will visit it often.

Sometimes the things we say to ourselves are really cruel or insulting. You know: “You stupid whatever…” We’ve all done it at one time or another. And it does not have a good ending mostly. Only more feelings of anger. Perhaps hopeless, helpless or worthless are felt as a result.

If other people talked to us that way it could get ugly. We may not want them as friends.

So you see, the meaning of the communication is the response that you get. And yes, communication can affect feelings, emotions and behavior choices.

The Assertive Communication Model is a tool that will be of benefit. It could serve us well even with self-talk.

Imagine a significant other has said something cruel or done something that is not okay with you. It might even be a user friend who wants you to use with her. How should one respond? A simple example follows.

When I hear or experience ___________
I feel…(bad, less than, insulted, hurt, etc.)
I would prefer___________(something more desirable or acceptable).
If this can be worked out I will be more comfortable or it will be okay between us.

This is so simple. Four simple sentences that say it all. There is no finger pointing or accusing. You don’t even use the you word. One simply takes ownership of feelings (“I” statements) and states a preference that will lead to desired outcomes.

Now a question. Could you use the Assertive Communication Model to flip your script even with yourself?

RECOVERY THEMES ARE STRENGTHS BASED

An explanation of the relevance of the Recovery Themes could be useful at this point. It is very empowering for the clients to realize just how much control they have over their feelings and emotions.

Recovery Theme 1 is an example of how effective these themes can be for ourselves and our clients. As can be seen on the map image (p. 15, Drug Court Treatment: The Verdict) in a previous post, feelings and emotions are what lead to our behavior choices.

In the box just before that labeled Internal Maps we find that they are made of pictures, sounds, feelings, smells and taste. These are the basic five senses we use to navigate our world. They are our GPS navigation system.

The three primary senses we use in communication are visual, auditory and kinesthetic. These are see, hear and feel. Multi Modal Learning tells us that we have a preferred learning system. We are primarily either visual, auditory or kinesthetic.

The best way to learn something new is through our preferred system first. This can be strengthened by following up with the secondary and tertiary modes. It’s the same with communication. We have a preferred system and we use it over and over.

This information can be very useful understanding ourselves and others better. In subsequent posts I’m going to show how all of the Recovery Themes fit together to create a powerful strengths based tool kit. This will be developed further while explaining themes two and three.