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Perfectionism- Recovery Word of the Week

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As our Word of the Week series at South Orange County Detox continues, we are going to be taking a look at some of the pitfalls associated with perfectionism in the context of recovery from drugs and alcohol. While there are many facets that interrelate, and many dynamics that interact with one another to jumpstart the engine of addiction, perfectionism is one of the least discussed, yet most insidious of traits adopted by the addict in, and out of recovery. Its insidious nature is derived from the fact that this component is often either overlooked, or is underrepresented with respect to the harmful outcomes that can come along with perpetuating this perspective. As could be argued is the case with many negative aspects of one’s personality, fear is at the heart of perfectionism, and that becomes severely problematic because, as addicts, we are averse to most forms of fear. We have learned to allocate fear into the trash bins of our psyche and emotional supply; we then accomplish this feat by means of drowning it out with substances. This previous and maladaptive patterning leaves us in quite the conundrum as, if we have made the decision to be sober, we cannot pull from our arsenal the most “valuable” weapon we had in the face of this giant dragon we call fear, namely, drugs. This leaves us with but one option if we are to navigate these murky waters into those of clarity; the acknowledgement and confrontation of why it is we require perfection of ourselves when we can never be capable of such an ideal. “We must” is the name of the bullet that is fired from the weapon of fear. It is the voice that breaches and then penetrates our being saying that, “you’ll never be good enough, smart enough, lovable enough, handsome/pretty enough, wealthy enough, and competent enough.” It seduces us with the notion that if we can “do” what we believe we “must”, then we will no longer have to be fearful of coming up short. This illusion has tempted many an addict into applying false, and more importantly, unrealistic standards for who we need to be and how we need to live. As soon as we give up our childish quest for perfection, we can become grounded in a reality where goals and achievements are then actual possibilities; we can initiate the incremental steps necessary for long term and sustainable progress. The next time you find yourself making judgments with perfection as the marker for success, try and remember that the striving towards this impossible goal is not a courageous and admirable endeavor; it is a coward’s journey, and one that is embarked upon by only those without the humility to set their pride aside and be willing to marinate in their own fallible humanity. I will leave you with another quote from Dr. Jung which highlights the reality that states we must be willing to engage and integrate our insecurities and fears that lie within us all in order to eventually realize our specific path and become “the acorn that is always meant to become the oak tree.”

“No tree can grow to heaven without recognizing that its roots reach down to hell.” C.G. Jung

"Spiritus Contra Spiritum"- Inspiration-Word of the Week

 “It is during our darkest moments that we need to focus our sights on the light.” –Aristotle

“It is during our darkest moments that we need to focus our sights on the light.” –Aristotle

As our Word of the Week series at South Orange County Detox continues, this week we will be focusing on the word inspiration. Inspiration has become a buzzword within the culture of America within the past 5-10 years. Many individuals such as Tony Robbins, Gary Vaynerchuk, and the late Wayne Dyer, have all figured out a way to even monetize this particular concept by trying to instill inspiration into their millions of listeners. As I see it, while these individuals do provide gas to the proverbial inspirational fuel tank, it seems that the problem can become the resulting lack of action on our parts; the key word here being action. Inspiration without action is merely self-indulged entertainment. In other words, we can absorb all the inspirational memes, YouTube videos, and Instagram clips that the world has to offer but if we revert back to our comfortable and self-limiting ways, the vitality of these ideas is null and void.
Our belief, here at South Orange County Detox, is that addicts have not yet gained the necessary wisdom to harness and channel this inspirational energy in a positive manner that would facilitate creative expression, replace the illegitimate highs of drug use with legitimate contentment and acceptance of oneself, and finally, a rejuvenated vitality towards life that helps steer the recovering addict in the direction sobriety. “I’m not creative” is not a statement that is accepted here at SOCD. We believe that everyone has a divine and creative spirit within him or her and that this gift needs fostering in order to allow it to be released. We are seeking out our inspirations from the external, instead of simply learning to release and focus what already lies within us all. As is the case with many of the words we have highlighted during our series, inspiration is another word that requires constant tending to lest it dissipates into the treacherous and insidious state that we flippantly refer to as “boredom”. We must resist the seduction of comfort and indifference. Inspiration in recovery is analogous to caring for a garden. It requires food, sunlight, and water or else it will not thrive and will eventually die. Inspiration works similarly as it needs to be channeled, focused, directed, and put in the context of a larger vision that will ultimately help to set us on a course of not only recovery from drugs, but the creation of a life that has purpose, meaning, and connection that will sustain our souls quest for the Spirit. Carl Jung famously stated in Latin,” Spiritus contra spiritum”; in other words, the divine spirit from above conquers the spirit of depravity that erupts in the form of our addictions from below.

“It is during our darkest moments that we need to focus our sights on the light.” –Aristotle 

Kriya- Recovery Word of the Week

 Kriya- Recovery Word of the Week- South Orange County Detox & Treatment

Kriya- Recovery Word of the Week- South Orange County Detox & Treatment

As our word of the week series continues here at South Orange County Detox and Treatment, we will be highlighting the Sanskrit word “Kriya” which can be defined as a “spiritual seizure” that takes place after we have allowed ourselves to be broken from a malady that has arisen and which can only be resolved by an intervention from a divine source. The most obvious Kriya in the context of recovery from substance abuse is the final phase before we make a decision to turn our will and life over to a power greater than ourselves. More bluntly stated, a Kriya can be a stern nudge from our higher power that says, “Do you get it now? You separate yourself from Me when you refuse to acknowledge the higher calling I have for you.” It is the insult added to the already sustained injury that has came about from our own making.

A Kriya can also present itself to us following an event or series of events in which we are engaging in actions that are not spiritually advantageous. Manifested physically, Kriyas can be severe fatigue, nausea and vomiting, head and stomachaches, and so on. Much like synchronicity, which was our focus last week, Kriyas come from a realm that is hidden from us, but that intervenes to help point us in the right direction, or warns us that if we continue on a negative trajectory, we will certainly pay a spiritual and often physiological price. Here at South Orange County Detox and Treatment, we believe in treating addiction not only with cognitive strategies and emotional processing but also we believe it is integral to include the addition of spirituality as means to reconnect, and tap into, the divinity that we so desperately need to embrace.

Emotions- Recovery Word of the Week

 “I postpone death by living, by suffering, by error, by risking, by losing, and by giving.” Anais Nin

“I postpone death by living, by suffering, by error, by risking, by losing, and by giving.” Anais Nin

In our continuing series, “Word of the Week”, here at South Orange County Detox, we are focusing on a very broad and sometimes confusing word, especially during recovery- emotions. Fundamentally, emotions are the language our bodies use to express what it cannot say in words. Although people generally look at the evolution of human thought and associate that trait as the one particularly unique to human beings (as it is), it really is the interaction and symbiotic relationship between these thoughts and the emotions attached to them as being the distinguishing and divine quality separating human and non-human animals. Our emotional reactions can be, in essence, what provides us with the vitality of life. Conversely, negative emotions can be devastating, destabilizing, and even traumatic. As addicts, we are prone to seek out moments of ecstasy in order to feel as though we are alive. Not only is there nothing inherently wrong with this, but in fact, this desire is arguably one of the fundamental needs of mankind. This can become problematic, however, when we begin to seek out illegitimate forms of ecstasy such as is the case of addicts with unfettered drug use. Other examples of illegitimate ecstasy that can manifest in dangerous form are sex, gambling, work, power, and even relationships with other people. This is where step work becomes an invaluable tool in our development. In engaging the 12 step process, we learn to take personal responsibility, practice vigorous honesty, maintain integrity, and act out of selflessness and humility. In adopting these new methods as way to navigate the pitfalls of life, we learn to self-regulate our negative emotional states and we also learn to take full advantage of positive states so that we may achieve the experiences of ecstasy that are necessary to our vitality and engagement with the horrors as well as the magnificence of life. We, as recovering addicts, must decide whether or not we are going to face our inevitable suffering as means to find happiness on the other side, or if we are going to run from our fears and continue participating in the cycle that temporarily masks our pain only for it to return in an even more grotesque and insidious form the next time around. In addiction we chose death; we chose derision, isolation, misery, apathy, and depression as we recoiled in the face of our fears. In sobriety we choose life; we choose connection, service, wholeness, honesty, and purpose as we made the decision to ride the fabulous and sometimes terrifying wave that is life.
 

Recovery Word of the Week- Laughter

 “Laughter is the tonic, the relief, the surcease of pain.” Charlie Chaplin

“Laughter is the tonic, the relief, the surcease of pain.” Charlie Chaplin

Here at South Orange County Detox, we are highlighting “Laughter” in our ongoing Word of the Week series. We have unpacked the value of a plethora of different words during this continuing series of blogs, however, today we are going to take a bit of a break from our typical focus of words that are jam-packed with deep meaning and application and redirect to a subject that is a bit lighter and fun. Laughter. We need it, we seek it, and like many other positive aspects of life, it constantly evades us while we are in active addiction. As a recovering addict, I am constantly vigilant about engaging in a program of recovery that exemplifies the values and principles of which I hold allegiance to, and as we all know, sobriety is a serious endeavor and the opposite of a laughing matter. With all that said, it is extremely important that we give ourselves a break and take time to enjoy all the great things that life has to offer outside of drugs and alcohol. Anyone following our blog posts knows by now that we talk about life being suffering, and the only way to combat that suffering is to go through it without manipulating people or environments to fit our expectations. Life isn’t always suffering, however, and in fact, life provides us with all the ecstasy that we could ever want if we have the courage to find it. Laughter is not only an escape from the day to day pain that’s go along with life, but it is also an antidote for as well as a weapon against apathy and nihilism. It can invigorate us and can help to remind us that there is a comedic irony to this rollercoaster we call life. It is imperative that we try and harvest happiness and laughter throughout our quest for sobriety for without regular reminders of how incredible life can be without drugs we will certainly abandon our exploration and relegate ourselves back into our internal dungeons.
“Laughter is the tonic, the relief, the surcease of pain.” Charlie Chaplin

Grief- Recovery Word of the Week

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This week, we are highlighting a new word to examine; “grief” will be the focus of our ongoing Word of the Week series. We have talked a lot here about themes that most if not all of us have experienced or will experience throughout our lives and our journeys in recovery. Grief is no exception as it is a universal experience that all of us either have already gone though, or will inevitably suffer at one point in our lives. The ability to cope and manage one’s grief is an invaluable “skill” in one’s emotional repertoire, unfortunately however, honing this “skill” requires that we experience loss which, obviously, is not an adequate practice ground for an experience that incites such overwhelming, negative emotions. Considering that the grieving process can be such a destabilizing event, it makes sense that we ought to engage in whatever preparatory actions we can before we need to inevitably go through this arduous journey. The prescription I am suggesting is that we work an intense, honest, and thorough recovery program so that when difficult times arise, we can have the courage and strength to face life’s difficulties head on.

Influence- Walking the Path of Recovery

 “In the beginning phases we must subject ourselves to simple yet meaningful influences for we must learn to walk on the ground before we begin mastering the tightrope.” –Matisse

“In the beginning phases we must subject ourselves to simple yet meaningful influences for we must learn to walk on the ground before we begin mastering the tightrope.” –Matisse

Our Word of the Week series continues here at South Orange County Detox and Treatment as we turn our focus to a new word to examine, “influence”.  As an addict/alcoholic, the first association with this particular word makes me think of “driving under the influence” or being “under the influence” of a particular drug. The next association that comes to mind, and following the natural progression of anyone who has suffered the legal consequences of addiction, is some type of criminal charge and maybe even a night, or 30, in jail. Once we admit we have a problem, however, and begin taking the necessary steps to seeking out a solution, we can begin to focus on the word “influence” in a more positive and hope-oriented light. Influences play a monumental role in the early stages of recovery, whether they are groups and communities, individuals, or even ideas. The reason it is so important to subscribe to positive influence early in sobriety is two-fold: first off, we can go back to our original association with influence, which is that of our drugs of choice. Our physical addictions, psychological obsessions, and emotional dependency on these substances were the determining factors in all of our actions when in active addiction. It is often said that one should not pull out a rug from another person without something adequate to replace it. This leads me to my second point which is that we have to be able to replace the drugs, and more aptly put, replace what the drugs were a illegitimate substitute for, in order to maintain any semblance of sanity during these first stages. I think the most obvious and universally effective replacement for the negative influence of drugs is the positive influence of a like-minded community such as is found in the rooms of AA and NA. Although engaging in the 12 steps is an invaluable tool for self-enlightenment and spiritual growth, I’m simply suggesting showing up to a meeting in order to find love and support from those who can identify with the addict’s plight as there is an inherent healing quality within this type of connection. Once this foundation is laid and one is able to feel supported by a community, it would be remiss not to turn our focus to a higher-order purpose. What I mean by this is setting our sights on emulating those individuals who might help bring us closer to our potential in whatever form that may be. As an example, if one of your goals in recovery, or life in general, is to become a great basketball player, you ought to be looking to Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant as your influence and probably not setting your sights on surpassing the average Joe at your local gym. In all likelihood, none of us will ever be the Michael Jordan’s of our respective aspirations, however, adopting someone or something that will help us strive to our greatest potential will do two things for us. It will keep us in a state of humility as we will be able to recognize our shortcomings in the face of the ideal, and two, it will keep us striving to be better than we thought we could be. This may seem like an unreasonable standard to try and meet but I believe that is the point. Life is not about ever becoming the proverbial Michael Jordan, it is about working as hard as the people who we look to in order to influence us so that we may become whatever version of the “the best” that we can be in accordance with our own abilities. Everything we experience influences us in one way or another meaning that we must apply wisdom when choosing our influences, especially when walking the path of recovery.

Letting Go of Anger & Resentments in Recovery

 Anger- Recovery Word of the Week- South Orange County Detox & Treatment

Anger- Recovery Word of the Week- South Orange County Detox & Treatment

Not only has anger been a huge part of my addiction, but it has also been something that I have had to work on throughout my recovery and will be something I will have to work on through the rest of my life. To me, my anger leads me to resentments, and resentments is typically what causes me to relapse in most cases. Usually, my anger starts within myself, for example if I do something wrong and someone calls me out on my negative behavior, I tend to get angry because I want to be stuck in that negative thinking and negative actions. This then leads to me blaming others for my actions and my wrong doings and also victimizing myself and getting down on myself. Usually when I do this, I want people to feel bad for me and like people say “misery loves company.” These patterns have come up while I’ve been using and also when I’ve been sober. This behavior can most certainly cause unjustified resentments. Another way I’ve shown anger both in active addiction and recovery is if somebody wrongs me or hurts me, this makes me feel not loved, unworthy, and not accepted. These feelings can defiantly bring me down and put me in a bad spot and cause me to become angry. I feel like there is so much anger and hate in the world today, so many horrible things happen each and every day and effect so many people in so many different ways. While in recovery, I’ve been taught to deal with my anger and resentments in a healthier way rather than dealing with them like I would in the past by using drugs and at times violence or fighting. When I get angry today, I try to think about both parts, my part and the other person’s part and try to realize that they are sick and pray for them and let go of my anger or resentment. I am by no means perfect and still have much work to do because at time’s I can still get caught up in my anger and resentments and blame other people for my wrong doings, make myself the victim and let the anger fester which is not good for me. I have come to realize that my anger affects no one except for myself which is why I need to be mindful daily to make sure I am conscious of my actions and my behaviors and show love to everyone.

Loyalty- Recovery Word of the Week

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Here at South Orange County Detox and Treatment, we are featuring “Loyalty” in our continuing Word of the Week series. Typically, when one thinks of loyalty, associations to a romantic partner, close friends, or even the country in which one lives are some of the presumed allegiances. Simply defined, loyalty is the unwavering support of a person, group, cause or idea. As we are focusing on recovery, I want to put a different spin on the way we generally conceive of the idea of loyalty. Namely, I want to look at the importance of loyalty in relation to one’s principles and convictions, loyalty to our fellow addicts in addiction, and finally, loyalty to the friends, family, and those who have selflessly devoted their time and energy in order to help us heal while guiding us down the path to sobriety.

Remaining loyal to the ways in which we go about treating ourselves and others is a crucial part of establishing a newfound pattern of behaviors and thoughts that is necessary to anyone who wishes to truly experience growth and contentment throughout their recovery process. If you’re anything like me, you probably didn’t apply any amount of loyalty to, what could’ve been considered to be principles prior to using, during your drug and alcohol use. This is no surprise, nor should it be, as we are all keenly aware that in order to survive while in active addiction, it is an unspoken requirement that any loyalty to pre-established conceptions of what it means to be virtuous are thrown out the window as quickly as possible. We know the drill; wake up, pray to god that we be relieved of this life that so closely resembles hell, and then get on with our business of copping by ANY MEANS NECESSARY. If you are reading this, chances are you already know that we no longer have to live like this if we don’t want to. The operative phrase in that sentence, however, is “if we don’t want to”. If we choose to not take seriously the importance of being loyal to our convictions and what we know to be true, right, and good, we are really being disloyal to ourselves, our loves one, and our creator who yearns for our realization that we are eternal, interconnected, and unified by the principle of love.

I believe, as a community that supports recovery, we also need to be loyal to one another. This means making gossip, judgements, jealousy, and pride anathema inside and outside of the rooms. This means consistent empathy and understanding for those who are walking in a different pair of the same shoes as we are wearing. This means removing condescending or dominating language with other addicts as we are no better nor worse, but probably just in a different position that could easily be reversed. Finally, it means showing loyalty to anyone who is willing to give a shot at a new life in sobriety a try. In this context, loyalty to the community is integral because the success of it is dependent on the quality of our connection to one another. As I recently heard Russel Brand state so poignantly, “The opposite of addiction is not sobriety; the opposite of addiction is connection.” If we take this notion seriously and understand that the opposing force that most effectively combats our disease is meaningful connection with others, we can see with clarity the importance of loyalty of this kind. I want to leave a quote from Mark Twain where he is pleading that we foster righteous convictions, and remain fiercely loyal to them as the only means for real change as a lack of loyalty in this respect facilitates the atrophy of our integrity. “Loyalty to petrified opinions never yet broke a chain or freed a human soul in this world… and never will.”        

Loyalty & Trust in Relationships

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Loyalty is the absence of selfishness. To be loyal one must instill their trust onto others. This process requires time and patience. It is just as important to gain one’s loyalty but to maintain it as well; for the slightest sense of rebellion in the relationship creates a sense of distrust. Once there is uncertainty the journey to gain one’s trust must start over. To avoid losing one’s trust and to remain loyal it is important to communicate honestly and effectively. Successful relationships are transparent.

From my experience through sports, athletes become loyal to their coaches once a rapport is built. An athlete becomes more receptive to a coaches training after there has been signs of loyalty on both ends of the relationship. The relationship is built upon a mutual goal and interest. Once there is a connection it is important to maintain trust to ensure loyalty. A coach cannot show favoritism between others because it creates a sense of division and will cause some to stray from being loyal. Vice versa for the athlete. One must put trust into the coaches training and be loyal to the process.

I have seen the differences in loyalty that produces different outcomes. When there was a bad relationship between my coach and I, I was unmotivated, there was no trust, and I ran poorly. Once I began to be loyal to my coach and trusted his training methods my mindset had shifted. I began to enjoy running and to be loyal to his training. These changes created a better relationship and ultimately I became a better runner. To me, this shows the importance of being loyal within a relationship. If there is mutual trust and loyalty a relationship is far more successful.