Relapse

Ten Tips for Preventing RelapsePremium Content

1) Formulate and stamp indelibly on your mind a mental picture of yourself as succeeding. Hold this picture tenaciously. Never permit it to fade. Your mind will seek to develop this picture. Never think of yourself as failing; never doubt the reality of the mental image. That is most dangerous, for the mind always tries to complete what it pictures. So always picture "success" no matter how badly things seem to be going at the moment.
For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he. Proverbs 23:6

2) Whenever a negative thought concerning your personal ability or strength come to mind, deliberately voice the words of God:
"Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness."Isaiah 41:10

3) Do not build up obstacles in your imagination. Depreciate every so-called obstacle. Minimize them. Difficulties must be studied and efficiently dealt with to be eliminated, but they must be seen for only what they are. They must not be inflated by fear thoughts.
For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. 2 Timothy 1:7

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Overcoming Stinkin' Thinkin'Premium Content

One of the most common types of skills learned in psychotherapy today focuses on our thinking. Unbeknownst to many of us, we often engage in internal conversations with ourselves throughout the day. Unless we're trained to examine these conversations, however, many of us don't even realize we're having them! For instance, imagine looking in the mirror at yourself. What's the first thing you think when you look at yourself? That thought is a part of our internal conversation.

Having these kinds of conversations with yourself is perfectly normal and in fact, everybody does it. Where we mess up in our lives is when we let these conversations take on a life of their own. If we answer ourselves in the above example with something like, "I'm fat and ugly and nobody loves me," that's an example of "stinkin' thinkin'." Our thoughts have taken on an unhealthy attitude, one that is working against us instead of for us. Psychologists would call these thoughts "irrational," because they have little or no basis in reality. For instance, the reality is that most everyone is loved by someone (even if they're no longer with us), and that a lot of our beauty springs from inside us — our personality.

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Beginning Recovery: What are You Waiting For?Premium Content

BEGIN

It’s that simple. After all the planning and anticipation, you have to turn the crank the first time.

Without knowing what will happen or where it all will lead, you begin.

I used to think these beginnings should be a big deal, with some sort of grand official sendoff. Simply starting seemed anti-climatic.

Now, though, I sort of like it. I like the notion that you start by starting. It doesn’t require a ceremony or a permit or a “ready-set-go.”

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Sexual Addiction Relapse PreventionPremium Content

We have to become willing to tolerate the discomfort of a frustrated impulse - an incredibly difficult thing to do. Because not acting out is like developing a new muscle. It feels there's something wrong, were being brainwashed, we're making a terrible mistake.

Ironically, many of us sexual compulsives seem on the surface to be easygoing and flexible people. But when it comes to changing our minds about acting out, it would appear no force on earth can stop us. Here are some practical steps designed to break through the sexual compulsive's "whim of steel":

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Self Deceit is Rarely ObviousPremium Content

Unlike the deceit of others, self-deceit is almost never deliberate and intentional.

The act of deceiving ourselves is rarely that obvious. Without realizing it, we mask our behaviors in ways that are more acceptable, rewarding, and socially beneficial. In fact, we try very hard to look good in front of others and the mirror. Sometimes we try so hard to look perfect that we nearly convince ourselves that it’s true. Then, when someone tells us, or when we see the light on our own, we remember who and what we really are – human.

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God Expects You To Be Better By Now (Resistance to Recovery)Premium Content

See: Part 1 | See: Part 2

(The third in a three part series on resistance to recovery.)

In the first of this series of articles I emphasized that the most difficult form of resistance to recovery is our own resistance. Recovery is not easy. It is a difficult process. Telling the truth, acknowledging our need, accepting help, making amends - these are some of the difficult tasks of recovery. It is understandable that we resist such a difficult process. In addition, recovery involves change. We have spent many years practicing our dysfunctional ways of living. The path of least resistance for us is to keep doing the same old things. Change is difficult and it is understandable that we resist it. In the second in this series of articles, I emphasized that in addition to our own internal resistance to recovery, recovery also often takes place in a hostile environment. For a variety of reasons, not everyone in our lives will welcome the changes which recovery brings.


Many of us, unfortunately, have experienced some distinctively Christian forms of resistance to recovery and it is this kind of resistance which I would like begin to discuss in this article.

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Criticisms of Recovery - Part 2Premium Content

See: Part 1 | See: Part 3

In a previous article I discussed the most insensitive, intransigent and personally painful kind of resistance to recovery - our own resistance. We tend to be our own worst critics. We resist the changes most tenaciously. In most cases we fight it, reject it, hate it - probably more than anyone else.

It is often true, however, that the recovery journey takes us through territory that is either ambivalent towards or downright hostile to recovery. Recovering codependents, for example, may find that some people prefer the 'good old days' when they were more compliant and self-sacrificing. Unpleasant emotions, once medicated with addictive substances or processes, may be experienced as threats to relationships that have adapted over the years to the insanity of addiction. Some people in recovery experience hostility when they start telling the truth in social systems which have been committed to silence for generations. Other people experience shame and rejection when people are skeptical about or merely uncomfortable with the changes that recovery brings.

Recovery is about change and most of us will encounter resistance when change produces new and unfamiliar behaviors. It is not reasonable to expect that all of the changes which take place during recovery will be received with rejoicing as if they were 'answers to prayer'.

Resistance and Rejection
Most of the resistance we encounter in recovery will be personal and painful. Even when resistance comes in the form of intellectualized 'arguments' against recovery, it may feel like personal assault rather than dispassionate analysis. For example, suppose someone says: "You can't change the past, so you should focus on the positive." This may make some intellectual sense to you. It may 'ring true.' It might, indeed, be good advice at this particular stage of your recovery. But for many people it may also feel like a profound dismissal of their struggle towards sanity. The key to sorting out confusing stuff like this is not the truth or falsehood of "you should focus on the positive". What is critically important is the tone of voice in which you hear "you should focus on the positive". Is the tone practical and understanding? Or is it shaming and dismissing? Do I feel rejected as a person when I hear this?

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Criticisms of Recovery - Part 1Premium Content

See: Part 2 | See: Part 3

Let's begin with the obvious. The most argumentative, tenacious, illogical and misguided criticism of recovery comes not from other people but from me. When it comes to my own recovery journey, I am the person who resists the most. Like many of us, I have always been my own worst critic. I can think of 50 reasons, easily, why my recovery is just a pop-psychology, navel-gazing, trusting-the-wisdom-of-men-instead-of-God, self-pity-party.

I do not need any external hostility to recovery in order to remind me of how I should be better by now, of how I should be able to just pray about it and trust God, or of how I should spend more time helping others rather than selfishly focused on my own needs. I have yet to find a criticism of recovery that I haven't already internalized in some way. I have recently finished reading a series of books highly critical of the recovery movement and there were few surprises for my personal Inner Board of Critics. This distinguished panel of Judges has left few stones unturned in criticizing my own recovery. I suppose there are some obvious reasons why we resist our own recovery so tenaciously. Let me mention just three.

Resistance to the Truth
First, of course, we experience denial as having such tangible benefits. Denial has a lot of appeal - it always seems like it's going to be less painful than facing the truth. I've gotten along so far without having to face this, why should I have to deal with it now? The truth, by contrast, always seems like the worst possible thing. So, we resist recovery because it is less appealing than denial. This is, of course, why few of us choose recovery just as a kind of personal enrichment activity - most of us don't begin the recovery journey until our pain becomes so intense that we are forced to take measures that in ordinary circumstances we would resist if at all possible.

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What Do You Think Jesus Wants You to Do?Premium Content

"My Yoke Is Easy."

What do you think Jesus wants you to do?

I'm not thinking of specific choices like whether to have pizza or turkey for lunch (I don't think He cares). But in terms of overall life choices and directions, what do you think He wants? There are probably a lot of answers to that question, but I'm thinking of one right now that I'll bet nobody else mentioned.

I think He wants me to quit. (It's okay if you're surprised.)

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."

The scripture above is one of the most well-known passages in the bible. It's a source of comfort to folks who are buried under the weight of illness, despair, and impossible expectations. But it's even more comforting when we understand the historical context.

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Back to the Basics in Recovery Premium Content

"Now I am really confused," said Jerry. "I'm doing all the things I think I'm supposed to do. I've been in therapy for a year and a half now, and I've been going to the 12-Step group at church. But somehow I have lost track of things. What is this all about? And why is it so painful?" Like Jerry, many of us have experienced times in the recovery journey when we 'lose track' of things. Why are we doing this? What is the point?

Sometimes when we are in the middle of painful transitions it is particularly difficult to see clearly what's really going on. The changes can seem disorientingly fast and then, moments later, frustratingly slow. The changes can seem too good and too painful at the same time. In times like this, it makes a lot of sense to focus on the fundamentals. Afterall, there really isn't much in the way of 'advanced recovery.' If there is a graduate level recovery course, I haven't found it yet. I find myself returning again and again to the most basic and fundamental of truths. It is in Recovery 101 that I find renewed clarity, hope and determination to "keep on keeping on". I am quite fond of the old AA slogan "KISS" which stands for "keep it simple, stupid". That is precisely what we need.

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