• Hazelden Renewal Center

12 Steps to Humility: Seek Progress Not Perfection

12 steps to humility

It’s all very simple. You set a goal for yourself; you determine how you’ll meet that goal, and then you follow some tried-and-true strategies that will help you reach it. Will power! That’s all you need. Determination. Discipline. Ah, if the road to recovery were only that easy. Anyone reading this article, anyone recovering from addiction, anyone seeking the divine in their daily lives knows recovery and re-finding God is more about surrender than struggle, more about journey than destination, more about making progress than achieving perfection. Our puny will power is no match for what God really wants for … Continue reading

Emotions Anonymous: Do You Have a Thinking Problem?

do you have a thinking problem

On July 25, it will be two years since I’ve kissed an old, old boyfriend. He is a modern man, with a hyphenated last name. His first name is Johnny and his last name is Walker-Red. I chose my sponsor because she was beautiful, poised, brilliant, a mother (a prerequisite as I have three children)and, most importantly, a “Country Club Drunk,” just like me. Mrs. Rum Pot…just put it on my tab….Everything tastes better in Waterford! The dear woman took on a hell of a lot more than guiding a dazed and confused Hazelden grad when I asked her if … Continue reading

Healing From the Inside Out: Blame, Shame and the Mind-body Connection

shame mind body connection

Q: I’ve read in books and heard from holistic practitioners that our state of mind contributes to our state of health. In dealing with my own health issues, this leaves me feeling like I just can’t win. When I feel the worst physically and out of control of my body, I have to also look at what I did wrong to cause my illness. It feels like a double burden, and shaming, like a kick when I’m already down. How can this be helpful? A: The idea that we are responsible for the state of our health and, as many … Continue reading

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 the Invisible Harm of Emotional Cruelty

healing from emotional cruelty

All my life I’ve felt there’s something terribly wrong with me–something I can’t put into words, something that makes me different from everybody else. People say, “Sheila, you are a good person” but I know they don’t really like me. Sometimes I really hate myself. I know you’ll think this is stupid. For the longest time I thought it was the fact that I was adopted that made me feel this way. One day I looked at an old photo of when I first arrived as an infant. I was stunned to see how my father was holding me while … 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

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

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

Growing Up With Emotionally Detached Parents

emotionally detached parents

I live with my girlfriend in what you might call a mutual arrangement. It’s about all we can handle. Neither one of us wants to be married. We’re both successful career people. It works for us. That is until recently. Last week my girlfriend said she would like to have a baby. I half facetiously asked her, “Well I suppose you want one with me?” Many of her women friends were having their first child and she felt like odd person out. Now raising a child is at the bottom of my list. Neither one of us is into cuddling, … Continue reading