• Hazelden Renewal Center

Lessening Divisiveness – Polarization, Prejudice and Hatred – in Ourselves

lessening divisiveness

A house divided against itself cannot stand. —Abraham Lincoln We live in the most divisive of times. Political parties hardly talk to each other. Sports teams are divided between the winners and losers. People can lose entire careers for an incorrect political opinion. Too many of us are alienated from each other: Rich and poor, city and rural people, Liberal and Conservatives, Pro-choice and Pro-life believers, white people versus people of color, men versus women, church goers versus atheists, and the list goes on and on. It’s like none of us can get along with each other and there seems … Continue reading

How Culture is Turning Us All Into Unhappy Fools

Those of us in the field of addiction recovery understand all too well the concept of euphoric recall. We chase things outside ourselves to make us happy based on a thrilling memory of how they once did, albeit temporarily. Our pulse rate increases, we get arousing physical sensations and we can’t stop thinking about the magical moments we once had with some ecstatic experience. Indeed it wasn’t the experience itself that made us happy; it was the fantasy around this experience that gave us bliss, a bliss we will never forget. However this happiness is a sham because it is … Continue reading

The Scourge of Electronic Living: Losing Your Identity

“Be careful of how you use your tools as you can become the tools of your tools.” Henry David Thoreau *** My boss told me I need to do a presentation next week at our company sales rep meeting, on my personal philosophy on closing sales. Geeze, just because I was the leading salesperson for the year, my first year, doesn’t make me any expert on winning customers over. I mean, I can do all that power point crap until I’m blue in the face. But standing up in front of a group of veteran salespeople to share my personal … Continue reading

Choosing Gratitude Over Alienation

choosing gratitude over alienation

“Our life begins to end the day we stop being grateful.” -Anonymous It’s that time of year when many of us gather with loved ones intending to give thanks. We experience tender moments with family or at least what we hope will be tender moments. Too often we’ve become disappointed as the actual closeness with family is less than what we had wished for. Sometimes old hurtful patterns still menace us. Perhaps we should have known better; hope always springs eternal. This holiday letdown may be the story of our life. Our heart may have been open to love in … Continue reading

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