CBT: Untwisting Your Thinking

As I’ve already written in my disclaimer and in previous posts, I wanted to create a site that publicly explored a variety of treatments for various addictive disorders but that wasn’t exclusively about addiction.  Why?  Well, because clearly addiction, based on the most recent science, isn’t such a black and white issue.  It’s not about doing this program over that program.  It’s about taking back your life by examining your whole life, everything about you, clearing out the clutter, exploring the wounds, figuring out ways to stay healthy, etc.  The addiction world does not own the term, “Recovery.”  Addiction recovery is such a small piece (albeit an enormous one for those suffering) of the realm of recovery.

I have watched people focusing so exclusively on staying ‘clean’ that they are incapable of living.  Oh, they go to meetings, they eat, they sleep. They stay clean. They believe in something greater than themselves, but don’t ask them to get any exercise.  Don’t ask them to see a therapist to finally deal with a childhood of trauma.  Don’t ask them to explore their hopes, dreams, and potential for the future.  Just stay in the day and get through it.  That is great, it works for many people.  It worked for me.

But I’ve never been someone who just wanted to get through the day.  I am driven by something deeper, and while I can only hope to try to explain this on the journey of rediscovery I am taking so publicly through this journal, and while many ‘friends’ may scoff and say, “EGO, EGO, EGO…bad, bad, bad,” I can’t live a life simply being an addict in recovery.  The creative piece in me needs to evolve, needs to rediscover what it is like to have the wonder of the child, needs to focus this internal drive, narrow that purpose and bungee jump off that bridge knowing there’s a chance the rope will snap.  If I don’t do those things, I’m not living.  I’m just pretending.  I’m just getting by.  I’m a cracked humpy dumpy shell spilling potential on the curb and letting it wash away in the gutter.

The first experience I had in truly examining who I was at a level where some fundamental changes were allowed to occur was in my first stint in rehab 8 years ago.  90 days north of Montreal in a converted monastery in the middle of the woods….in winter.  You’ll hear more about that later, but right now I just want to introduce the concept of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).  For me, recovery must include some form of therapy.  My family, my friends, my colleagues were not therapists.  I wasn’t a therapist.  I couldn’t expect to deal with my addiction without understanding it’s roots.  And while I know now the science of addiction distinguishes at least 5 roots of addiction, genetics being just one, it is so often assumed that addiction is this lone feature, this isolated condition that can be dealt with by itself.

Not everyone will see a therapist.  For some reason there is still an incredibly debilitating stigma associated with seeing professional help.  But that doesn’t mean you can’t explore therapeutic concepts by yourself without jokingly maligning that process as being “New Age Self Help.”  It’s self-help alright, and it is necessary and an integral part of the healing process.

CBT is based on this concept of untwisting your thinking.  Let’s face it:  our thinking is messed up.  Our emotions are based on our thinking and if our thinking is messed up, the basis for our emotions isn’t necessarily real.  Our emotions may not actually be real.  Huh?  I’m not going to go too far here except to direct you to look up CBT.  To go to the website of David D. Burns, M.D.  We used The Feeling Good Handbook at that Canadian rehab, and while it’s not perfect, it was the start of a more healthy form of introspection.

I’ll explore more of this later, but for now, if you have’t started exploring, go ahead and try.  Can’t rediscover if you don’t explore.

(photo is from Dr. Burn’s website–gotta love a Dr. who likes cats.)

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