Free Therapy - Addicted? Self-Compassion

Want Free Therapy For Addiction? Try Self-Compassion

What is self-compassion?

Multiple therapies can work together to overcome addiction. One of those therapies, which is free and can be used at any time, is self-compassion. While self-compassion by itself will not end an addiction, it is a useful tool for living a happier, healthier life and for changing the brain patterns associated with sexual addiction. Here, essentially, is what it is: treating yourself as you would treat a dear friend or loved one.
What would you do if your friend lost his job? What about if a significant other left him? Or what if he learned he had a debilitating disease? Would you chew him out or tell him that he shouldn’t feel bad? If he made a mistake, lost his temper, forgot something important, or wrecked the car, would you call him names and tell him he’s the only one in the world that does such things? Would you tell him over and over what a horrible or stupid person he is? Most likely, no.

Stop for a moment and think about what you would do.

Would you recognize how your friend might be feeling and feel some of his hurt yourself? Would you try to cheer him up? Would you remind him of the times he’s done things right or express confidence in his ability to get through the situation? Would you want him to be happy? This is compassion. When you feel and do these things for yourself, it is self-compassion.

How can I apply self-compassion in my life?

The age-old adage, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all” applies not only to how we speak of others, but also how we speak and think about ourselves. Just as we have healthier relationships with others as we extend compassion, mercy and grace, overlooking their faults and focusing on their strengths, so too can our relationships with ourselves improve as we forgive ourselves and highlight our own strengths and accomplishments.

Thus, one way to apply self-compassion in our own lives is to be aware of and intentionally modify how we talk and think about ourselves. Choose to think positively. Choose to speak positively.

This is not about being blind to what you are going through or pretending you aren’t feeling your emotions. Rather it is about choosing where to put your focus. For example, if you don’t want to get out of bed and you feel as though you no longer want to exist, but you get out of bed anyway, you could (A) berate yourself for how you feel, or (B) congratulate yourself for having the strength to get up when you don’t want to. (Or, if you didn’t get out of bed, you could (A) berate yourself for how you feel, or (B) congratulate yourself for at least recognizing that it is healthy and beneficial to get up.)

Besides verbally and mentally being self-compassionate, you may want to try journaling or writing yourself a letter. First, write down your negative feelings or thoughts. Then pretend that those are the feelings or thoughts of a best friend or loved one. When you’ve done this, write down your encouragement and support. Here are two examples:

I became angry at my son today and yelled at him. I know you didn’t want to yell at him. You’ve been working on that. And it’s been a week since you last yelled. That’s awesome. A lot of people have trouble controlling their temper. That’s not an excuse, but hopefully you realize that you’re not the only person trying to be better.

I’m not where I should be in life. My friends earn more money than I do and my debt’s getting bigger and bigger. It’s tough to be in debt. It is. And some of your classmates do earn more than you. But you earn more than some people. It really doesn’t matter how much you earn compared to other people. You know you need to learn to live within your means. Perhaps you can take a community education class on budgeting or personal finance.

In summary, whether you do it in your mind, speak it out loud, or write it down, pretend that you are talking or writing to your best friend and offer yourself compassion. Objectively empathize with how you are feeling, remind yourself that others go through hard times too, and help yourself see the positive aspects of the situation. Look for your own strengths and successes. Focus on offering yourself support.

If you want help overcoming your pornography addiction or sexual addiction, call Paradise Creek: (855) 442-1912.

Mindfulness -- How it affects addiction treatment

How Does Mindfulness Affect Addiction Treatment?

Mindfulness As An Addiction Treatment

Mindfulness is an addiction therapy that is proving to be successful at preventing relapse, and that can be integrated into other treatment programs.  It is something that can learned and performed anywhere.  One of the reasons mindfulness may contribute to sobriety is that it provides a healthy way to deal with and reduce stress1 and can increase self-acceptance2.  

What is it?  One definition describes it as “paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally”3.  Essentially, it is consciously being aware of how and who and what you are right now, and doing so without judging yourself.  Other ways of describing or thinking about mindfulness are “objectivity”, “neutralness”, “observing without judgment”, and “self-observing”. In mindfulness, you become an objective observer or scientist, consciously becoming aware of yourself, your experience, and your surroundings.

The idea of what we now call “mindfulness” is not new. Hundreds of years ago, Leonardo da Vinci stated, “An average human looks without seeing, listens without hearing, touches without feeling, eats without tasting, moves without physical awareness, inhales without awareness of odour or fragrance, and talks without thinking.”  In other words, the average human is not mindful.  When we become mindful–when we become aware of what we are doing and experiencing–our human experience becomes richer and more meaningful.

Non-Judgmental Observation

While there are multiple elements of mindfulness–including observing, savoring, meditating and breathing–conscious, non-judgmental observation is its core.  Whether you are at a party, at work, out with friends, or at home, you can choose to intentionally notice the sensations you are experiencing and the thoughts you are thinking.  How does your food taste?  What do your fingers feel as they move around the keyboard clicking keys?  What is it like being with your friend?  What emotions are you feeling?  Simply be aware of what is going on, without passing judgment.

You can use mindfulness to examine how your own addiction works or relapse occurs, and to stop them.  In an article in The Fix, Jenifer Talley says, “The process of becoming nonjudgmentally aware of the components of a compulsion weakens its power. That’s why increasing numbers of clinicians are eagerly incorporating mindfulness into the treatment of substance use disorders, eating disorders, sex addiction and other compulsive behaviors.”4

Observe Instead of React

One of the ways this works is by helping the person become aware of what is going on, and instead of reacting, to continue observing.  Since cravings are temporary, by watching, one can become aware of what triggers the craving, of the craving itself, and then of the craving’s abatement without actually giving in to the craving.

Judson Brewer M.D. Ph.D. puts it this way, “mindfulness helps individuals pay careful attention to their cravings, such that they can see what they are made up of – thoughts and body sensations. Importantly, with this awareness, they can notice cravings as they arise, see how they change from moment to moment (instead of lasting “forever” as some of my patients have described), and as a result, stay with them and ride them out instead of acting on them.”5

You can practice mindfulness throughout the day by asking yourself intentional questions such as:  What emotions am I feeling?  What sensations is my body experiencing presently?  What am I thinking?  As you observe your thoughts, you can intentionally decide whether or not to believe them.

Mindfulness is one of the therapies that Paradise Creek teaches at its recovery center for sexual addiction.  Call (855) 442-1912 to learn more.

Sources:

  1. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2818765/
  2. http://www.naadac.org/mindfulnessandaddiction
  3. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2818765/
  4. http://www.thefix.com/content/mindfulness-addiction-therapy-cravings-awareness8712
  5. http://www.rehabs.com/pro-talk-articles/is-mindfulness-an-emerging-treatment-for-addictions/
Free Therapies For Sex Addiction Treatment

Are You Using These Free Therapies For Sex Addiction Treatment?

Free Therapies: Mindfulness and Self-Compassion

Sex addiction is a complex issue.  Effective treatment can require a variety of techniques and therapies.  Practicing self-compassion and mindfulness are two therapies that can help you in your recovery.  They are free, and you can start practicing them right away.

Focus on Breathing:  

In mindful breathing, you simply become aware of your breathing.  You don’t try to slow it down or speed it up.  You don’t try to breathe deeper or more shallowly.  You simply focus on breathing.

Kelly McGonigal, PhD suggests three ways to practice mindful breathing.  First, is to repetitively think “inhale” or “exhale” as you breathe in and out.  Second, is be aware of the sensations breathing creates, such as the movement of your belly or the feel of the air in your nostrils.  Third is to count each exhalation until you reach the number ten, then start over.  With all three suggestions, when your thoughts drift to something other than your breath, that’s okay, just refocus on your breathing1.

Savor:  

Rather than dreaming about the past or longing (or worrying) about the future, savor the present moment.  Whether you are eating a meal, spending time with a friend, walking, working, exercising, playing, talking or typing, become aware of what you are doing and delight in it.  Notice the sensations you are experiencing.  How does your food taste?  What do your fingers feel as they move around the keyboard clicking keys?  What is it like being with your friend?  What emotions are you feeling?  

Savor the sunset right now–the vivid pink and orange and purple colors changing shade and brightness as the clouds move and the sun sinks deeper behind the mountains.  Savor being with someone you love.  Savor the food you are eating.  Savor the feel of the breeze, or the heat or the cold.  Savor the feel of your feet hitting hard ground as you walk, or the supporting cushion of your shoes.  

Meditate:  

You can do guided or self-guided meditation, and the meditation can take different forms.  Focusing on different sensations:  the earth, your feet, what you hear, your skin.  It can include imagination, such as imagining a healing energy flowing through you.  You can use music or not.  Kelly McGonigal, even shares the idea of walking while you meditate.2

Pause and Observe:  

Simply stop and notice.  What are your surroundings?  How are you standing or sitting?  What do you smell or hear?  How are you reacting to your thoughts and feelings?  Do not pass judgment, just observe and become aware.  This “Pause and Observe” exercise can help ground you in the present so that you are not worrying about the future nor feeling shame for the past.

Become Your Best Friend:

If your best friend made some mistakes, wouldn’t you give him the benefit of the doubt, encourage him, support him, and focus on his good qualities?  Treat yourself the same way. Find the good in your situation and in yourself.  Focus on the positive.  This is not to say that you should ignore what needs to be changed, but rather that you love yourself and accept yourself as you are, even as you strive to change.

To learn more about overcoming sex addiction using mindfulness and compassion, please contact Paradise Creek Recovery Center at (855) 442-1912.

Sources:

  1. http://kellymcgonigal.com/2012/09/12/mindfulness-of-breathing/
  2. https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-science-willpower/201009/walking-meditation-the-perfect-ten-minute-willpower-boost