• Hazelden Renewal Center

The Road to Resilience

tree in the desert

Our knee-jerk reaction to the idea of being depressed is that it is a terrible state in which to find ourselves: sad, discouraged, stressed out, fatigued, puzzled, hurting, lonely, afraid. It sounds pretty awful. So why is it that some doctors and philosophers put a positive spin on depression, saying that it can frequently be good for us? Why is it that most psychiatrists today would not regard the experience of depression as an illness in and of itself? Depression normal? That’s right, and often necessary. There are times when you and I should feel depressed, and there may be … Continue reading

Healing Through Music

healing and music

Bob Ross, the infinitely relaxed host of The Joy of Painting famously said, “We don’t make mistakes, we have happy little accidents.” And I believe Bob. If you are a musician or performing artist and you live with crushing panic, anxiety, depression, and are paralyzed with fear and self-doubt, I hope you believe Bob too. Although I am not a full-time musician, I recently released a solo EP and am currently writing and rehearsing for a new album with another band that I play in. I understand the grind, the hustle, and the exhaustion of the music business. There seems … Continue reading

Finding Happiness

happiness lemons

“Happiness is nothing more than good health and a bad memory.” Albert Schweitzer I am happy to report that after much searching I have at long last found the key to happiness. Well at least I’ve unlocked my personal definition of contentment and I’m happy to share it. It wasn’t long ago I believed happiness could be found only after I’d reach certain goals. The problem with that logic was that when a goal was met there were always others to strive for. If  I failed to fulfill a certain wish did that mean I was doomed to eternal despair? … Continue reading

Shame on You! Understanding the Shame-Rage Connection

shame rage

This article first appeared in our April 2007 issue of The Phoenix Spirit. Many people believe that punishing and explosive anger is a sign of power, confidence and “being on top of your game.” In face, this is not the case at all. Disrespectful anger and even all out rage actually come out of a deep sense of powerlessness, inadequacy and despair. Another word for that place is shame. Shame is a significant part of all human misery. Shame can lead to a whole host of compulsive, addictive, irresponsible, and demoralizing attitudes and behaviors and is a major contributor to … Continue reading

Forgiveness: The Far Side of Anger

forgiveness

Anger acts as thief. It steals away serenity, ability to focus, and the ability for self-awareness. After 9/11 Fred Maples, like most of us, felt angry about what happened. But then he did something that may perplex (or perhaps anger) many seeking a just revenge on these terrorists who caused such suffering: he began to pray for them. Such a forgiving frame of mind doesn’t come easy, he says. It was the result of a journey through his own anger and into a level of self-awareness that ultimately helped him see terrorists in a new way. “Forgiveness,” says Maples, “is … Continue reading

Do You Play a Role?

what role do i play

Take a look below at some examples of life scripts that angry people play out in their lives. You may recognize yourself in these or you might see others you know in them. Even if they don’t seem to fit, think about the script and the roles that you may be playing out and try to identify, very specifically, how they have affected your life. The GOOD LITTLE GIRLS/BOYS who reacted to the shaming by seeking to please and placate others. They get resentful when no one seems to appreciate and value everything they are trying so hard to do. The … Continue reading

Mindfulness and Equanimity: A Way to Stay Steady in Hope

mindfulness

We know we can’t save anyone from their pain and suffering. We know trying to rescue or change someone in the throes of addiction drains us to the point of depletion; it becomes a never-ending cycle of feeling hopeless and helpless. We desperately want to maintain hope and feel guilty if we give up. The good news is, there is a way to maintain hope without burning out, and it starts from inside you. Having worked with clients with eating disorders, chemical dependencies and other addictions, as well as their families, I understand that hearing, “Well, you can’t change them,” … Continue reading

Facing Fear

facing fear

Fear stalks our world, brazen and shameless. I expect fear to occasionally sneak in and out of alleys, but to see it parade through public streets as though a welcome visitor is…..frightening! There are public and private fears; they embolden each other. Like bullies on the playground, they compete for space and power. Who will be the scariest today? Fear is dangerous because it paralyzes, like the sting from a scorpion. It stops my thinking and problem solving brain. It lights up my reptilian brain – the one that responds with fight, flight or freeze, the one developed for survival … Continue reading

When You Want Somebody Else to Change

wanting others to change

When we want somebody else to change we often make mistakes.  We either get too passive and expect change to happen without any effort on our part.  Out of fear of rocking the boat we may excuse another’s behavior by saying “Well that’s just the way the other person is.” Alternatively we may try to strong-arm another into change.  We may use coercion and threats to get someone else to alter their habits. We may declare, “If you don’t change, then such and such terrible thing will happen to you.” Unfortunately neither the passive or aggressive approach works when it … Continue reading

Broadsided: Dealing with Life’s Unexpected Setbacks

unexpected life

Recently I had some catch up time with a supportive person at our regular meeting spot. While chatting she told me that she and her husband were out driving recently and unexpectedly another driver broadsided them. This incident has since caused them inconvenience due to having to take time for car repair as well as some personal damage in terms of their sense of comfort while driving. How easily things can change. One minute, as with my friends, you are riding along and things are “normal”. The next minute, another motorist, who, for whatever reason, hits you broadside. Shock! Fear! … Continue reading