• Hazelden Renewal Center

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

Naivete: Believing Someone Cares About You…When They Really Don’t

naivete

Oh, who among us can forget the wonderful world of childhood innocence?! The world was our oyster. Good overcame evil. We were protected and safe. Life was simple. At least that’s what we thought at the time. Obviously not all of us had such experiences. However those of us who were well protected undoubtedly went through such childhood pretense. Even today as adults, we can still believe in magic. We may dress up for Halloween and eat our children’s candy. We may dance around the Christmas tree wondering how many presents are for us. Just like the good old days. … Continue reading

Volunteering Is Good Medicine

volunteering good medicine

Volunteering is like a happiness pill. At least that’s true for Ruth, a recovering addict who lives at Knollwood Place, an apartment building for older adults in St. Louis Park. Ruth likes going to what she calls her “happy place” — helping others living in the building with recreational outings, special lunches, and other activities. She also likes helping adults with disabilities and children with Down syndrome at nearby community organizations. “It’s such a gift for me to volunteer,” Ruth says, even contributing to her sobriety and peace of mind. “It’s a distraction from the merry-go-round in my brain. I … Continue reading

The Benefits of Giving Unconditionally

giving unconditionally

“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” Winston Churchill Some might say that giving unconditionally is the path of true abundance. Stepping beyond our self-interest and thinking of others is a gift in and of itself, especially for those in recovery. It is not only scientifically proven to make us happy, but it is also recommended by some of the world’s greatest leaders, spiritual and religious figures, and psychologists. I spoke to recovery scientist, researcher, and therapist Austin Brown about the benefits of giving unconditionally for people in recovery. By … Continue reading

Choosing Joy

choosing joy jumping women

You ever have that day where everything is going great, you’re excited for the day and then something comes up that just throws off everything?! A text, a call, something someone says to you… Lovely. Now my perfectly good day is ruined. All thanks to one person. One thing. You know what I’m talking about? I think we all actually go through experiences like that daily, but the one thing that differentiates one person’s experience from another’s is a thing called choice. In those hard moments we all have a choice to make. You can either let that person or circumstance dictate … Continue reading

Developing a Forgiving Attitude Sets You Free

forgiveness

David Richo, in his book, The Five Things We Cannot Change, claims that we must accept certain realities.  Among these are: All things change and end. Things do not always go according to plan. People are not loving and loyal all the time. Pain and suffering are a part of life. Life is not fair. I will add some additional realities. All of us will inevitably make some mistakes.  We will sometimes hurt someone else, and also ourselves. We have all experienced pain and disappointment because others have either intentionally or unintentionally hurt us.  This might include parents, siblings, teachers, … Continue reading

Beating Bitterness

overcoming bitterness

Recently a convicted felon wrote columnist “Dear Abby” lamenting he was “on a one-way trip down a road that leads nowhere.”  The man said he felt hopeless about his future behind bars and signed his name “Inmate on a Dead End.” A few weeks later, another reader of the column wrote to say: “I want ‘Inmate’ to know that one is never beyond hope.  Prison may be the best thing that ever happened to him—it was for my husband.” She signed off as “Proud Wife in New Jersey.” That proud wife explained her husband is “living proof that you don’t … Continue reading