How to Tap Into Your Creativity (and the importance of it in recovery)

Posted on October 22, 2014 By

How to Tap Into Your Creativity (and the importance of it in recovery)

The creative process is essentially the same in all its branches and varieties of self-expression, such as music and art or science and political innovations. And each variety stems from the same elements. In many ways the differences in creativity create opportunities to grow and evolve not just as a society, but personally, so it is easy to see why creativity is essential to recovery.

Creativity is not limited to arts, but also to things like communication, math and sciences, all aspects of life. Even being a problem solver requires creativity. One way of investigating the problem is to consider the great ideas of the past and see just how they were generated. Creativity can be a corner-stone to how you consistently build and support your recovery and mental health.

Reviewing Your Interests

One of the best ways to tap into your true creativity is to tap into the things that make you tick. Your interests and your passions are things that can drive your creativity. The history of human thought would make it seem like it is always a struggle trying to think of a new idea, even when all the facts are on the table. Making cross-connections between the desired outcomes and the materials requires a certain bravery, and often times the best way to get real bravery is through true personal investments.

The emotional and personal investments we make in the things we love are a huge part of what drives our creativity. Once we have identified our interests, even in things that aren’t our favorite subject, we seem to find it easier to think more freely of it and how we come up with better improvements or ideas.

Accept the Eccentric

The especially creative type is quite often an eccentric individual, at least in comparison to the rest of the world. Consequently, the person who is most likely to get new ideas is a person of good background in the field of interest and one who is unconventional in his habits.

Simply put, you or others may feel strange in regards to the way you think, and the random and spontaneous or seemingly unreasonable suggestions you make, but in reality that is even more conducive to creativity. Being able to think and act completely out of any box while accepting your inner eccentric will help you to carry that proud artistic energy into other areas.

Do Not Fear Creativity

Author Isaac Asimov stated,

“For every new good idea you have, there are a hundred, ten thousand foolish ones, which you naturally do not care to display.”

This is part of an essay he wrote about the subject of creativity. The quoted portion refers to the idea of people being too afraid of fear to actually express their creativity gene actively. People are too inhibited by fear to let their successes shine.

People who fear their creativity hold themselves back from, and this can be especially true in recovery. Fear is a huge part of addiction and substance abuse, so to combat that creativity dares to believe in these eccentric and exciting possibilities, kind of like the idea of sobriety and the beauty of the world without drugs and alcohol.

Work with Other Creatives

No two people in the world will exactly duplicate each other’s mental capacity for memory and interpretations. One person may know one piece of a puzzle, while looking at a different piece. Another person may know that piece, and be confused about the other person’s piece.

If that’s confusing, I’m sorry. Basically what I mean is that two people could have different perspectives, and an incredible way that there is to spark some creativity is to introduce alternative ideas and understandings and incorporate them in order to perhaps establish entirely new ideas you would have never seen before that.

Creativity like this is especially powerful in recovery because it gives individuals an opportunity to make connections in the recovery community and build constructively off of these relationships. Those relationships are also bound stronger together because they are built on a common interest and have the same kind of emotional investments.

Choose to Challenge Yourself

Those who take the time to see creativity for what is it, have an amazing opportunity to let their spirit shine through them in a way that it only can through them.  That ignition of individuality and strength that is unique to each of us is vital to our transformation in sobriety and any other levels of enlightenment we seek to reach, because we must challenge ourselves to always believe that there is something else, whatever context it you can apply it to, there must be another way to grow. Which in essence is a lot like believing in your recovery.

“Creativity is the power to connect the seemingly unconnected.”

William Plomer

Challenge yourself to take that chance or that step toward a solution that can save your life, and has the power to change others. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-777-9588

 


5 Reasons Why You Should Marry Yourself

Posted on October 21, 2014 By

5 Reasons Why You Should Marry Yourself

Of course I don’t mean literally marry yourself. But, the point of this article is to make clear the importance of being committed to yourself first, before committing to another person.

Many of us are under the impression – whether we realize it or not – that our happiness depends on others. For instance, that once we find “the one,” we will feel whole. Like the famous line Tom Cruise’s character uses in Jerry Maguire: “You complete me,” we think that intimate love means finding our other half.

But there’s a flipside to this way of thinking. Just as we think that our happiness depends on other people (or circumstances), we end up playing the victim blaming others for our unhappiness. As you can see, this is not a healthy approach to life.

Instead, we should cultivate our whole-ness before sharing that with someone else. Here are 5 reasons why you should marry yourself before marrying someone else.

#1. Accountability

The writer and poet Khalil Gebran said, “Fill each other’s cup but drink not from one cup.” No matter what, we are the sole owners of our happiness, regardless of how many people we know and how amazing our partners are. Marrying yourself is a way of taking responsibility for your wellbeing and happiness and therefore learn how to stop blaming others and playing the victim.

#2. Practice

Marrying yourself can help you practice skills that are essential to a long-term partnership.

Don’t be fooled by the movies! Long-term relationships, such as marriages, take work – from both parties. Create your own vows, to and for yourself, and commit to them every day. Things such as forgiving yourself, being compassionate and supporting the pursuit of your own dreams will prepare you for an amazing relationship to come.

#3. Commitment

Why do people get married when they can just live together? Public commitment makes it less likely for you to back out. By marrying yourself, you are telling the world that you are committed to loving yourself. Making an official commitment (however that looks for you, maybe it’s a little ceremony by yourself or with close friends) is a way to strengthen this promise and to serve as an inspiration to others in your community.

#4. Building Trust

Many of us – and by “us” I mean women, in general, and recovering alcoholics and addicts, specifically, have trust issues. Amirite, ladies??  And ultimately, learning to trust others starts with learning to trust yourself. Spending time alone, committed to yourself, can teach you how to trust yourself and your decisions. Therefore, when you choose to be with someone, it will be out of partnership rather than dependency, not because you need them; because you want them.

#5. Learning Forgiveness

If you cannot forgive yourself, you will live in a life full of blame: blaming yourself and blaming others (again, the whole playing the victim thing). And if you still don’t see the importance of marrying yourself, think about it like this: Who’s a better person to spend the rest of your life with than your true, wild, radiant, awesome self?

And that is why you should marry yourself. Because, if you can’t commit to you, you’ll never truly commit to anyone else.

Codependency is very common among people with addiction and substance abuse issues. There is help available for all three of these conditions. If you are struggling, please call toll-free 1-800-777-9588 to speak directly with an Addiction Specialist.


6 Ways the Second Year of Sobriety is Different from the First Year

Posted on October 20, 2014 By

6 Ways the Second Year of Sobriety is Different from the First Year

If your first year of sobriety was anything like mine, it was a whirlwind of excitement and new experiences – both good and bad. Honestly, my first year was a blur. I was definitely riding the pink cloud for most of it.

They say everyone’s journey is their own – and I totally agree. However, from my experience in sobriety and from conversations I’ve had with other women in recovery, who have more time than me, it seems that there are certain benchmarks we reach that are marked with similar experiences and feelings.

Here are 6 ways the second year of sobriety is different from the first year.

#1. It’s awkward!

The first year, like I said, was a blur. I was happier than I had ever been, and I think my approach was just, “OK, this is how things are now.” But without much thought or introspection. My second year so far, is wayyyy more about self-awareness and soul-searching. Everything I thought I knew about myself and life has been uprooted and I feel like a teenager going through my ‘awkward phase’ again. I call it ‘growing pains.’

#2. It’s more emotional than the first year

They say the first year is about physical health, the second year is about emotional growth and the third year is about spiritual growth. So far, this seems to be true for me. The first year, I started feeling good – both physically and mentally (not yet emotionally). However, I was still quite numb when it came to feeling my feelings. Now that year two is well underway, I’ve noticed that things can really hit me right in the feels. This is probably why the second year seems so awkward, as mentioned above. Leaning on your sponsor and other sober supports, as well as making sure to talk about it will help you out with feeling emotions again.

#3. It’s as difficult as the first year (but for different reasons)

They say getting clean is easy; staying clean is the hard part. This also seems to be pretty accurate, from my personal experience. Year one seemed to pass on by pretty quickly but, year two is at a steady crawl. If you’ve done the work, you should have a pretty strong program at this point. I mention this because of two things: one, people will have certain expectations of you and two, you will have certain expectations of yourself, and life, in general. As for the first part: you’ll have to learn and remind yourself that you have no control over what other people think or how they feel. As for the second part, it’s important to manage expectations.

You will be expected as well as expect yourself to be able to handle life on life’s terms. And you will have to cultivate the faith that you can. At year 2 of sobriety, you no longer have the excuse that you are newly sober, you have a little bit of time and experience now and need to really deal with things as an adult. Now is the time to really start reaching out to others and helping your fellow alcoholic or addict.

#4. You may feel bored and stagnant

Being sober is actually amazing and way better than what life was like before, in active addiction. And I wouldn’t trade it for anything but, sometimes you boredom with strike and you’ll also start to feel stagnant in your life and your program. When this happens, re-commit to your program by re-doing your steps, picking up an H&I commitment, doing other service work, switching up your meetings as well as venturing out and trying new things, like passions or hobbies – not everything has to be program-related. In sobriety, we are constantly growing and changing. There’s a saying, if you stop growing that means you’re dead. You’ve got to keep moving, stretching, and branching out. Sobriety isn’t about settling; it’s about living a life beyond your wildest dreams.

#5. You’re very busy

OK, so it’s kind of weird but, even though you’ll have a tendency of being bored your second year of sobriety, you’ll also be super busy. As you acclimate to your new, sober lifestyle, you will begin doing more and more socially, job-wise, and program-wise. You’ll probably be sponsoring several other women as well as balancing work and home life, your hobbies/passions, and so on. Getting yourself into somewhat of a routine will help. After all, we thrive with at least some structure (even though we were once used to chaos). Make sure you find a way to balance all of it out the best you can.

#6. You no longer care for drama (and you experience less of your own, too)

Perhaps because using alcohol and other drugs can suspend our emotional growth and maturity to the age at which we started using, we have (or, I should say had) a tendency toward immaturity such as gossip and drama. In the second year of sobriety, however, all of that begins to change. You go to meetings because you genuinely want to be there for your recovery. It becomes less and less appealing to gossip about others and worry about the drama that goes on with other people. You start to see that some meetings are just cliquey and an excuse to socialize. For me, I never thought I’d be one to go to all-women meetings but, here it is, my second year of sobriety and all-women’s meetings are my meeting of preference.

The bottom line is this: if you really want recovery and are willing to do whatever it takes to stay sober, you should have no problem surviving the 2nd year of sobriety. It may be tough, but it is absolutely worth it. If you are struggling with staying sober and are in need of a helping hand, call toll-free 1-800-777-9588. Addiction Specialists are available around the clock to take your call. You are not alone.


Why It’s Important to Clear the Air

Posted on October 17, 2014 By

Why It’s Important to Clear the Air

Clearing the air – getting rid of doubts or hard feelings – is necessary for being a healthy, well-adjusted adult. But, for those in recovery from the disease of addiction, it’s probably extra-important to be able to speak up when something someone says or does bothers us, or when we are the ones who have caused a miscommunication or hard feelings in others. In 12 step fellowships, this is what is addressed in Step 10: “Continued to take personal inventory, and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.”

But, like I said, it’s also when we feel that someone else has done or said something that rubs us the wrong way. Of course, the first thing to do is to be willing to see what part, if any, you’ve played in the situation.

Now, clearing the air doesn’t mean brow-beating someone into submission – making them admit wrong-doing are getting them to agree when they simply don’t see it your way. If an argument or discussion clears the air and it gets rid of any hard or bad feelings between you and the other person, then consider it a success.

Clearing the Air vs. Letting It Go

First, as the saying goes, you have to pick your battles. Decide whether what’s happened really needs to be addressed or if you can resolve it on your own, within yourself. By that I mean, decide if it’s something you can let go of, perhaps after praying, meditating, or even talking about it with your sober supports and your sponsor. If we made a big deal over everything that happened in the course of a day, there’d be no time for anything else, like getting your work done. Also, I’m sure people would get sick and tired of you real quick.

However, if, after trying to resolve an issue through other means, as mentioned above, you still can’t let it go, then it’s time to consider clearing the air.

Be sure you know the difference between letting some ‘roll off your back’ and actually bottling it in. This is an important distinction. If you can let it go – and really let it go, then good. But, if you think you’ve let go of it but, in fact, it’s festering inside, this can lead to BIG trouble.

Why it’s important to clear the air

For anyone who bottles their feelings rather than talk about them – even if it means having to face potential conflict, resentments build. For those of us in recovery, allowing resentments to build spells Trouble – with a capital ‘T.’

You’ve probably heard it over and over again: resentments will take you back out (into active addition), in a word: relapse. This couldn’t be a more accurate statement. I know, for me, before I knew what recovery was and I was merely abstaining from alcohol and other drugs, whenever I would cop a resentment towards a coworker, my mom, a friend, or anyone else, my first thought was, “Well, I’ll just get f*cked up. That’ll show them!” As ridiculous as that sounds, it’s a pretty common mindset to those of us with the disease of addiction.  Hence the saying, “It’s like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die from it.”

As scary as it might seem to confront someone, it’s in your best interest in the long run. Remember this saying:

“Everything you want is on the other side of fear.” I take that to mean, in this situation, that, as scary as it might be to speak up and confront someone, it’s well worth it if it means I’ll be able to sleep at night and be resentment-free.

If you are struggling with substance abuse or addiction, help is available. Women have specific experiences and needs when it comes to treatment and rehabilitation from drugs and alcohol. At the Orchid Recovery Center for Women, we recognize that recovery for women is unique from that of men. Please call toll-free to speak with an Addiction Specialist at 1-800-777-9588.


Food Engineering for Snack Addicts

Posted on October 16, 2014 By

Food Engineering for Snack Addicts

Craving, it doesn’t just happen to food addicts. Almost everyone experiences the impulse to seek out and consume a favorite snack food. The big food companies have done the research necessary to keep you coming back for the next snack. Thanks to an army of chemists, physicists and even neuroscientists, all working to make sure you want a second snack, these companies all strive to dominate your stomach. What most food companies don’t care to acknowledge is that the effort they’re putting into developing more crave-able food is helping to engineer a food addiction.

Detective Work with Michael Moss

Michael Moss is a New York Times investigative reporter who spent a lot of time and energy doing a degree of rigorous detective work into the subject of engineered food, and spend 4 years prying open the secrets of the food industry.

“Salt, sugar and fat are the three pillars of the processed food industry. And while the industry hates the world ‘addiction’ more than any other word, the fact of the matter is, their research has shown them that when they hit the very perfect amounts of each of those ingredients … they will have us buy more, eat more.”

When Moss began his work investigating the science of food processing, he was sceptical of concept of food addiction, but once he spent some time with the top scientists in the U.S. that actually told him that it is a fact for some people, the most highly loaded salty, sugary, fatty foods are every bit as addictive as some narcotics.

“These companies rely on deep science and pure science to understand how we’re attracted to food and how they can make their foods attractive to us.”

He also ended up writing a new book, which was titled Salt, Sugar Fat: How the food giants hooked us. The title directly referenced the startling discoveries Moss made about how the food industry manipulates the manufacturing of foods in order to control the average consumer through cravings and drive production and profits. He said,

“This was like a detective story for me, getting inside the companies with thousands of pages of inside documents and getting their scientists and executives to reveal to me the secrets of how they go at this.”

After he had spent time with the top scientists at the largest companies in the country Moss was amazed how much math and science and regression analysis and energy that was put into finding the very perfect amount of salt, sugar and fat in their products that will lure the shopper back time and time again.

Behind the Scenes with Bruce Bradley

Bruce Bradley is a former food industry executive who spent 15 years working at General Mills, Pillsbury and Nabisco. Bradley made some major contributions to food brands including Honey Nut Cheerios and Hamburger Helper, but after a time he was too conflicted to continue. Now he writes a blog, critical of the food industry.

“There were certainly times that I felt uncomfortable or troubled by what I was doing. I think that’s ultimately one of the reasons why I left the industry. As you start to get glimpses of products and you understand better how consumers are using them, and then you see trends like obesity and health issues that are increasing, mainly driven by the food we eat, it was hard for me not to just take a more thorough assessment of what I was doing.”

Bradley decided to step out and ultimately speak out against these companies with hopes of bringing more awareness to the issue. The foods we eat and drink the majority of these big name companies according to Bradley is not that good for us. He went on to account from his experience that these products are designed to keep you coming back to eat more and more and more.

Bruce Bradley says all of that processing takes food to a different place.

“We’re not talking about food actually being real anymore. It’s synthetic, completely contrived and created, and there’s so many problems about that because our bodies are tricked and when our bodies are tricked repeatedly dramatic things can happen, like weight gain”

Along with weight gain there are plenty of other health risks associated with this kind of obesity which include:

  • Endocrine disruption
  • Diabetes
  • Hypertension

Strategies and Satiety

3 of the scientific strategies that food companies have developed are:

  • ‘Mouth feel’
  • ‘Maximum bite force’
  • ‘Sensory specific satiety’ (the rate at which a food product loses its appeal as it is being eaten)

Sensory specific satiety is a term that specifically expresses when food has one over-riding flavor and if it’s attractive, it will be really attractive to us initially. However then we will get tired of it really fast. So these companies make a concerted effort to make their foods not bland, but really well blended, so people don’t get too full too fast, and stop eating too soon.

Thorton Mustard was a food industry consultant who revealed some secrets of the food industry when we wrote a book called The Taste Signature Revealed back in 2002.

“If the taste builds too much, consumption will stop … and snacks need to be eaten non-stop until the packet is finished,”

He wrote that fullness or satiety. is “quite a serious enemy for a product.”

Mustard claimed he could help food companies design foods that were guaranteed to be “more-ish,” which he defined as a quality that made a consumer want to eat more. His strategy for “more-ish” included specific elements of blending the nature of food to be of maximum desirability, including things like:

  • Chew
  • Crunch

The importance of “crunch” was confirmed in a study funded by Unilever where the chips were perceived as being both crisper and fresher when the overall sound level was increased.

  • Dissolving

If the food dissolves quickly in the mouth, it tricks the brain into believing that no calories have been ingested. It’s called “vanishing caloric density.”

Biting the ‘Bliss Point’

The ultimate goal is the ‘bliss point’. The company’s researchers have learned to study their products, fiddle with the formulas until they hit that very perfect spot of just enough and not too much sugar to create what they call the ‘bliss point’. This ‘bliss point’ is exploited through several different strategies that also have to do with how a product fits in the mouth.

But many ingredients in processed food have nothing to do with taste, but instead are to reproduce a certain texture to control the moisture level, and keep the various ingredients from separating and spoiling during the months that they will sit on the shelves. To mask the bitterness or sourness that the formulations can cause, the food industry uses flavor enhancers; tricking the brain of the consumer into tasting something that isn’t there, and hiding the taste of something that is there.

Changing the Cravings

Bruce Bradley says he believes food companies are trying to make some changes, and that he thinks there’s an element of it that’s sincere. Through his investigations he worked on several products where there was a sincere effort to reduce the amount of sodium or sugar in that product. But he says there is only so much tampering that can happen with the three basic building blocks of processed food while maintaining taste.

Some companies promise healthier snack foods. However many believe the food industry has simply identified a new marketing opportunity, and that these companies will only chase down the ‘healthy alternatives’ angle as long as it is making them money, but will not hold the trend if it begins to cost more than it makes.

So while some still question whether food addiction should be taken seriously, researchers and experts on the subject attest to the fact that food addiction is VERY real, and that in todays society the food industry is focusing a majority of its efforts on exploiting the fact. While they still try and steer clear of the word ‘addiction’ that is what they are creating, in the most roundabout way possible. They are doing everything in their power, not necessarily to make food bad for you, but to design the food based on ingredients, taste, and even the shape and texture of the food to make it more attractive to consumers and more ‘addictive’ to the appetite.

Addiction is a powerful and dangerous affliction that can have a hazardous effect on every aspect of an individual’s life, and food addiction is especially harmful to an individual’s health. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135