• Hazelden Renewal Center

Materialism and Family Life: Good Intentions Gone Bad

“Wealth is the number of things we can do without.” Leo Tolstoy If you’re one of the many people who are going overboard this holiday season, this article may not be for you. On the other hand, it may be perfect for you. So many of us express our love for others by buying things for them. We just don’t know how to do it differently. We equate love with gift giving. We exhibit the expected materialism of our culture and do so with the best of intentions. Unfortunately our best intentions can have some harmful results particularly when our … Continue reading

The Gift of Self-Forgiveness

“If I had to live my life again, I’d make all the same mistakes—only sooner.” — Tallulah Bankhead (1902-1968) One of the most hidden and powerful aspects of human identity is how many of us have shame and harsh judgments towards ourselves. Some of us are barely aware of our self-contempt; others are drowning in a sea of self-revulsion and have no way to save ourselves. Most of us alternate between denial and harsh self-criticism. We are so overwhelmed by this self-devaluation that we often unconsciously choose to not acknowledge it in ourselves. Often, we don’t know why we hate … Continue reading

Overdoing It With Kids: Is It Really All That Harmful?

Our children will not go to hell in a hand basket if we occasionally spoil them. All of us could use a little pampering and a day off work from time to time. Children who are given excess attention and protection are at least getting the message that they’re loved. Unfortunately that’s only half the message children need to learn from parents. The other half is at least as important…our children also need to be taught to love themselves. If we regularly make our children’s lives too easy for them they will feel loved by us but they will likely … Continue reading

Doing With Less: Is It Really All That Bad?

less is more neon sign

Let’s face it. When you’re about to lose your house to foreclosure or a job due to layoff doing with less is a bitter pill to swallow. The resulting heartache and worry may make us very reluctant to imagine any good coming from such setbacks. Yet most of us have a different type of tribulation. We have no idea of what it means to be down and out. We aren’t having our houses repossessed, we don’t live in the bombed out neighborhoods of Iraq and we don’t have to scrounge for food on the tundra of Africa. We in fact … Continue reading

Social Phobia: When You’re Too Scared to Show Your Inner Life to Others

I hate being in a group of people I don’t know. If I can find a way to get out of such gatherings I will. My mind gets nuts with anxiety. I fear that I will be seen as abnormal—that people can see my flaws. My voice usually cracks, sweat pours off my forehead, and I have a hard time thinking of what I want to say. I wish I could be cool like my brother—the golden boy—who can walk into a room and have everybody eating out of his hand. It’s so easy for him; so dreadfully hard for … Continue reading

Cultural Myths That Undermine Our Happiness and Well-being

Myths are metaphoric stories that can inspire or demean us. Believing in magical elves in forests may make our imaginations soar; thinking that people with dark skin are inferior to us only devalues us. The most destructive myths are those that operate in our lives while remaining unexamined. They do bad things to us without our being aware of them, and surreptitiously undermine our well-being. This is especially true when other people also believe the same myths as part of a cultural ethos and we just go along with the crowd. In fact the longer I’ve lived the more I … Continue reading

Parenting Younger Children: Making a Difficult Job More Rewarding

parenting young children

Raising little kids is hard. After a grueling day it’s mommy this and daddy that. And I don’t like macaroni and cheese any more. And why can’t I jump on the couch?! Then it’s scream, scream and tears because my tummy hurts. Besides I don’t want to go to bed tonight. And by the way, I need a costume for the class play tomorrow. Can’t we go to Target to get one (at midnight)? Grandma, let’s us jump on the couch! Oh, the endless joys of raising little ones! If they weren’t so cute we’d kill them! Yet having kids … Continue reading

As Good As It Gets

snowy scene in minneapolis

There are times that feel bigger than life itself. When these times happen, we may be filled with immeasurable inspiration as we escape the usual routines of ordinary living. Many of the tensions of daily stress and world turmoil disappear in the abundance of such special moments. Some magic moments we never forget — the birth of our first born, the day our beloved parent took a last breath, the day we awoke from a coma after a bad car accident, seeing the panorama of colors of the Grand Canyon for the first time, being reunited with beloved old friends … Continue reading

Sometimes It’s Better to Be Sorry Than Safe

scared woman

At some point or another most of us have been told, “Play it safe” or “Better safe than sorry.” Perhaps it was wiser for us to not take a given risk and stay with familiar ways of doing things. The caution we felt from a loved one may have really saved us. However, what if we’re always playing it safe and hardly ever take risks? Is there such a thing as playing it too safe? Yes there is. Marie and I have a big decision to make. We can’t decide whether to get married or not. Marie and I are … Continue reading

The Insufficiency of Real Love

insufficiency of real love

Most of us are aware of those sublime experiences of life we call love. We may feel uplifted in being more than we already are through the continued tenderness of a loved one. It’s as good as it gets. We may also have magnificent moments when we have transported a dear one to be a better person through our efforts at kindness. The power of such caring may live in our memories for years as we witness the Higher Power of real love. But what if love is not enough? Sometimes, it just isn’t. It’s no wonder then, that we … Continue reading