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Why Learn From Others in Recovery: a Story

Being unable to learn from others is one of the most common traits of self-saboteurs, or people who self-sabotage. It stems from an I-problem: “I am perfect, I am inflexible, I am stubborn, I am fearful.” They are often referred to as egomaniacs with an inferiority complex.

A Weird Story

Consider this random analogy, for demonstration purposes. Let’s say there is an individual called Bob who is addicted to banging his head against a wall, and that it is a full-blown addiction. The definition of addiction is the continued use of a substance or behavior despite negative consequences. Let’s say Bob is just walking through life one day and he sees a brick wall which appears majestic, the best brick wall Bob had ever seen. So Bob goes up to the wall, whips his head back as far as he can and bangs his head against the wall. The result is of course, a pounding headache, a bruised eye that looks like he just got punched, Bob walks away thinking he is never going to do it again. Maybe he takes off for 30-60-90 days and wants to figure things out. But then Bob comes across another wall that is way nicer than the wall before, like a high-end wall which has art on it, different textures, and different surfaces. So Bob once again goes up to the wall, whips his head back as far as he can go and bangs it against the wall as hard as he can. This time, his orbital socket breaks, it shatters his eye and the concussion is so bad that he falls down on the ground and starts throwing up. He is in so much pain that he needs to be taken somewhere to rest for a while, maybe 30 days in some facility. 30-60-90 days go by and then Bob, being a self-sabotager, wants to leave and figures that he can’t continue to bang his head against walls anymore, and needs to find something else to do. But then all of a sudden he sees another wall behind him and it instantly looks exciting, in fact so exciting that he is compelled to bang his head against the wall. But Bob remembers that the last few times he hit his head against a wall was bad. Even so, he puts his head forward and bangs his head up against the wall as hard as he can and it knocks him out, lights out, like the TKOs in fights. He is taken to the hospital unconscious. 

In the hospital Bob’s family is there thinking, “Oh my god, is he gonna wake up? Is he coming back to life? Should we call grandma and grandpa and tell them what happened? I don’t think they can handle this. It might kill them to hear the news. Let’s not do that. Should we tell the kids what happened? They’re so young. We might not need to tell those kids. I don’t know how they’re going to deal with it.” The doctors are talking about, “Do we pull the plug? Do we not pull the plug?” These are the conversations that are happening in a hospital when someone is admitted and laying there unconscious, not knowing what happened. Mom, dad, brother, sister, aunt, uncle are having those conversations. And for whatever reason, miraculously, Bob wakes up in the hospital. The family members might think that Bob is regretful and remorseful about what happened, however for Bob, his first thought is, “I want to go bang my head against a wall again.” He rips off the cords and just leaves the hospital. As Bob checks out of the hospital and is leaving with his hospital bracelet still on him, he goes to the parking garage and looks at the concrete wall in front of him, his favorite and says, “Oh God, I can go bang my head against that wall!”

Learning from Others in Recovery

Here’s where being unable to learn from others is one of the causes of self-sabotage. The remedy for that is learning from others. It could be from a counselor or someone who has been sober for several years, when they share their own story of recovery, of how they lost everything, including their job, home and family because of their addiction. It could be from someone who experienced the worst pain in their life and shares their experience with others so nobody else goes through that pain again. 

Learning from others prevents us from so much pain, so much unnecessary misery, so many consequences of our ignorance and lack of knowing, decisions and actions we take because someone that’s been there, done that, can probably help us not do that anymore. This is why this recovery stuff works.

Learning to Trust Others

Many times, self-sabotaging people do not learn from others because they don’t trust them. For many people, trust gets established, not in the addiction process, but their core understanding of trust happens when they’re younger. When someone lies to them, when someone tells them they’re going to be there and they’re not there, when someone physically, sexually, psychologically, emotionally abuses them, when someone neglects them, they have already established their understanding of trust already, long before the drugs and alcohol. So one of the important things people in recovery need to learn is to overcome their trust issues in order to learn from others. 

Whether it is addiction, codependency, anger, or some other pattern of behavior, learning from others can go a long way to help avoid unnecessary pain. Codependency is the same way. A parent of a person in recovery might say, “Hey, I’m not going to help my kid ever again,” however, they do it again – it’s just like banging their head against a wall. After they repeat this pattern several times, they eventually get to the point of being in enough pain that they start learning to set boundaries, and to stay firm to those boundaries. They learn to develop the psychological and emotional strength to be strong. When another family member or a counselor says, “This is what I suggest,” the parent may then be ready to take their suggestion and feedback. They will learn to stop the enabling process. Family members often need to hit bottom just like the person struggling with addictions. Everybody’s bottom is different and a lot of factors go into that. 

Learn to Live a Disciplined Life

Many people in recovery or who self sabotage live undisciplined lives, whether it comes with their schedules, their patterns, their habits, or their values. If a person doesn’t stand for something they will fall for anything. So in life, it is important to show up and work by standards, not moods. People who are undisciplined are dominantly controlled by their moods. “When I feel like it I’ll do it, when I feel like it I’ll go to a meeting, but I don’t feel like it. When I feel like it I’ll go have a conversation with someone that I’ve been avoiding but I’m just not feeling like it. When I feel like it I’ll take care of myself but I’m just not feeling like it.” If an individual allows their feelings and moods to dictate their life they will continue to have an undisciplined life that will always lead to self-sabotage. But if standards and values become the north star, they can become the guiding principles, regardless of feelings and moods. 

In recovery, people are urged to get into contrary action, so if a person is not feeling like they should do something that’s a sign, a glaring headlight, that it is exactly what they need to do in that moment.

How to Change Failure to Success in Recovery and Life

People that self-sabotage their recovery expect that they’re going to fail so they play the tape forward. “If I do this, if I take, if I do this action, if I go to this place, if I stay sober, that it’s not going to be what they say it is. This job’s not going to be as good as it is. This class is not going to be as fun as they say it’s going to be. This relationship’s not going to work out.” Everything that they view in the future has a failure expectation to it.

Expecting Failure

The reason why someone would be conditioned to expect failure may be because that is what they related with at some point in their life. Let’s start with before drugs and alcohol – at some point in their life, maybe their world was developed and set up and created in a way that they always walked into some type of failure that wasn’t even their own fault. Maybe their parents were struggling with each other, maybe there was domestic violence, maybe there was divorce, maybe someone passed away at a young age, maybe someone let them down, maybe there was abuse, maybe there was trauma, maybe there was grief and loss or whatever it was in the world, that they never saw the future is getting any better. For many people who experience adverse childhood experiences in their childhood, their adolescence doesn’t get any better because they have no control or sway in the environment. They’re almost like prisoners that are stuck in whatever situation they’re in so they start to get conditioned that no matter what they do, no matter how they live, no matter what choices they make, it’s never going to work out anyways. 

The conditioning of childhood plus the conditioning of substance use disorders and addictions onto an individual’s mindset is a combination that makes them expect failure. So even when they are in recovery, they still expect failure. A lot of this stems from previous experiences, previous stories, and they project it onto their future.

Refusing to Take a Risk

Another reason why people self-sabotage their life and recovery is because they refuse to take a risk. It is related to a lack of goals. Goals don’t have to be big ones; they could be super small goals. Small goals over time can create a masterpiece. For example, if you have a 500 piece puzzle and each day you just put one of the pieces together, eventually, just one piece at a time, you have created a beautiful completed puzzle. People who want to do it all at once can’t do it and they get frustrated. 

In the therapeutic space, whether it’s someone struggling with addictions, or just someone coming to therapy because they’re experiencing anxiety or depression, they always talk about this thing like, “I just have a fear of failure or I have a fear of success. My whole life I’ve been that way.” They talk about perfectionism or the exact opposite of it of just not trying – same coin by the way, different sides. Once they are aware that they have a fear of failure or a fear of risk, they are now responsible for their own actions, regardless of whose fault that was.

Why Fear Making Mistakes?

It usually was someone’s fault that a past adverse experience happened to an individual during their childhood or adolescence. If they have a highly critical parent growing up and they are afraid of making mistakes, it is likely that they caused the fear of risk, but now as an adult if the individual is still afraid of making mistakes even though it was someone else’s fault, the person who is responsible for overcoming that now is the individual in recovery. If someone feels like they are not good enough because a parent or an adult always told them they weren’t good enough, so therefore they don’t try, yes, it was probably the parent’s fault for saying all those things, however, at some point in life now it’s the individual’s responsibility to do something about the fact that they feel they are not good enough.

F.E.A.R = Face Everything And Recover

There are always two options when someone is faced with fear. One is to ‘Face Everything And Recover,’ and the other option is to ‘F* Everything And Run.’ Recover means to regain something that has been lost, stolen or destroyed, so face everything, including any demons, inadequacies, resentments, and traumas, and recover something that’s been lost, stolen or destroyed. What one regains from this process is their connection to their own self and whatever spiritual entity or connection to others. 

People are free to make the choices they want but they are not free of the consequences of those choices.

Don’t let Failure Stop You

A failure may not always be a real failure – it could also be a perceived failure. Many successful people become successful because they choose to perceive their failure as a stepping stone to success.

“A hungry stomach, an empty wallet and a broken heart can teach you the best lessons in life.” -Robin Williams

Reading the autobiographies of people that are successful in whatever field that they’re in, whether they are chefs, or athletes, or humanitarians or actors can be helpful in showcasing how many of them came from difficult and challenging childhoods and upbringings, but they didn’t let failure stop them. 

For people that self-sabotage when they experience one failure, it may help to remember that having a hungry stomach, an empty wallet, or a broken heart could be the foundation to build up an entire life. Don’t self sabotage it. Don’t quit before the miracle happens. Don’t be impulsive without having all the information prior to investigation. Don’t have contempt prior to investigation. Investigate honestly, openly, ask questions, learn from people, know as much as you can before making a big life decision. It is possible to build a really beautiful life on the foundation that failure can bring.

How to Change Failure to Success

The only way to change that expectation of failure is to change the story one day at a time, to change the narrative from what it used to be like to what it is now. And what that narrative needs to include is small victories. They need to taste victory. They need to taste success. 

That’s why it’s so important when someone gets a 30-day chip when they are in recovery. It is the first time in a long time that a person tasted some victory, that they can do something that they were unable to do for a long time. The first time someone takes one community college class and gets an A, B or a C they taste some victory that they’re able to be a student which they thought they could never be. When someone gets in a relationship with someone and treats them with love, respect, honesty and loyalty, it is the first time in a long time that they didn’t fail in a relationship. When someone gets a job and they show up for it and they clock in on time and they leave on time it’s the first time in a long time that they changed the story of they just abandoned work and didn’t show up and had a lie and excuse for every time they weren’t there.

Change the story, change the narrative. Massive action changes failure.

Addicted to Self Sabotage? Causes and Ways to Cope

Whether an individual struggles with substance abuse or not, all individuals are human beings, and have very similar characteristics and qualities. Not everybody self-regulates their emotions and copes using substances but we’re all addicted to something that takes some type of pain away. Self-sabotage might show up in your own life as patterns in a history of self-sabotage, whether it comes with finances, relationships, health, communication, or something else.

 

People experience the world through their own eyes and through their own perspective. There is no such thing as two people going through the same exact reality. A family of two parents and a child living in the same house, eating the same meals, and spending weekends together, will still not have the same reality because each person’s reality and their perspective is shaped by their unique experiences that they have had. Two people in sober living sitting on the same sober living couch might be going through two completely different experiences. 

There are some common causes that create a self sabotaging pattern of behavior, and we discuss some of them here.

A Poor Understanding of People

A poor understanding of people potentially leads to self-sabotage because it creates a false sense of reality and a false sense of security, that people are supposed to show up all the time, that people are perfect, when in reality human beings are flawed. When an individual puts too much of their hope and faith into a person and when that person doesn’t meet the image of whatever reality that they had expectations of, they are going to self-sabotage. In recovery, when someone you look up to, or have a lot of trust in, relapses for whatever reason, that may lead to a self sabotaging pattern of behavior.

Learning how to listen, process and think through what other people are saying and doing is a great first step to improve upon how to understand people better. A realistic understanding of people can avoid unnecessary expectations and disappointments.

Putting Blame on External Factors

Blaming people, places and things for reasons why someone does not have the world that they expect is a common trait in self saboteurs. While adverse childhood experiences are the cause of many self sabotaging behaviors, when an individual becomes an adult, the responsibility falls on them to heal from their past experience. Shifting the blame to people, places and things instead of taking responsibility for their own healing is a self sabotaging pattern of behavior. 

One way to turn around this perspective is by putting the blame and fault aside and recognizing that they are an adult now, and responsible for healing their own wounds.

Lack of Focus

Many people who were diagnosed with ADHD when younger, or those who have an emotional, psychological cloud over them due to substance use, can feel like they are not able to focus on the daily obligations of life. Beyond those kinds of situations, people with self sabotaging traits lack focus because their perspective of life is too broad and vague. Lack of focus leads to a waste of time and resources. 

One way to counteract their lack of focus is to do something that they love doing, and are passionate about. When an individual is able to focus intensely and get in the flow, it is usually because they are working on something they care about.

Lack of Information

Many people react adversely to situations when it is the lack of information, the lack of knowledge, the broadening, and the deepening of their knowledge base that could have potentially prevented the road of self-sabotage. There’s nothing wrong with not knowing about healing, recovery, support groups, addiction, mental illness, but making decisions based on that lack of information can be detrimental when making vital decisions and lead to self sabotaging their recovery process.

The best way to prevent self sabotage in this case is to obtain relevant information about recovery by going to the sources, the people with experience and knowledge, and learning from them.

Surrounded by Negative People

No individual is all good or bad. There are people that are positive in our lives right now and people that potentially could be negative in our lives right now. That doesn’t mean they’re good or bad – all it means is in this moment in time, the people you surround yourself with – are they helping and assisting you go in the direction of your goals, your dreams, your ambitions, what you’re trying to accomplish in life, or are they taking you away from it? If the answer is yes, they’re helping me, guiding me, supporting me, those are your people. And if they’re trying to pull you from this into another road that you’ve gone down in the past or don’t want to go to, they become negative at this point. The same people that might be negative right now might go through some life experiences, some challenges, some changes, some ups and downs, that they one day are on the same path as you and then they become positive people. 

A good way to reverse being surrounded by negative people is to “Stick with the winners,” as they often say in the 12-step community. Their winning attitude often appears in their presentation, their mood, in their language and their mindset. You could see it in their lives, you can see the fulfillment, if you tend to follow their footsteps, there is a high possibility you will get to where they’ve gotten to.

Negative people could also be toxic sometimes. The process of going through addiction of your loved one, your spouse, your child, your grandchild is very traumatic and draining – it drains your battery, drains your soul. So in this stage of your life it’s important to have positive people around you that recharge that battery. Toxic people, when you’re spending time with them, you’ll know they’re toxic because when you leave you feel drained, you feel they just zap the soul out of you, and maybe at some point in your life when you feel better, when you’re healed, when you’ve recovered, hanging out with some toxic people doesn’t necessarily impact you as much. You’ll still feel it but it won’t zap you all the way to zero. When we’re completely drained we make some bad decisions. Human beings make some bad decisions when they’re around toxic people for too long.

Take Responsibility for your own Recovery

Self sabotaging is a pattern of behavior that is self defeating, causing damage in many areas of life. Understanding the causes behind what may cause self sabotaging traits in individuals can help recognize and change those behaviors. Owning responsibility for your own recovery is the first step towards success. 

Are you or your loved one struggling with addiction or related issues? Reach out to Buckeye Recovery Network to help with your healing journey.

10 Traits of Self-Sabotage

[TRANSCRIPT] It says we are live so I’m gonna take its word for it. It’s always an exercise of trust but here we are. It’s September 25th of 2021, always a Saturday, always at 10 AM Pacific Standard Time. You can count on myself, Buckeye Recovery Network, to be here to provide family education support on recovery. It’s always free to join and participate and it’s always encouraged to share this with anyone that you think or feel may benefit from the content that we put out. Quick introduction: my name is Parham. I do this, like I said, every Saturday. I do have a master’s degree in marriage and family therapy. I am a licensed advanced addictions counselor. Buckeye Recovery Network is the place that I spend the majority of my time and I’m also a high school basketball coach – I don’t want to underestimate that one because our season’s coming up here pretty soon and I’m really excited for that and we have our yearbook pictures coming. This is season number 13 that I’m gonna be there and it’s just a cool thing. Outside of that I also am in personal recovery – I like to share that on this forum because I know for some of the family members it matters to see that and for anyone going through the addictions and recovery process themselves, it’s important to know where someone is when they start and where they are currently. There’s anything and everything is possible. All that being said, a good morning to Jim, Debbie, Lynn, the faithful trio that’s always here going back a couple years – well, it’s at least a year and a half now – which is really cool because that’s called loyalty, brand loyalty, fan loyalty. I appreciate it! Without you I would just be some random person sitting in his living room talking to the internet I guess. 

Today’s going to be a really good talk, and the reason why I say it’s going to be a good talk is because it’s the first time I’m presenting it, so it’s fresh content – new content – for those of you who have been watching for a while. The second reason why I think it’s a good one: it allows for different perspectives. So if you’re watching this as the family member, the parent, the spouse, or the loved one, it allows you to kind of hear from my personal and professional point of view, what leads to this thing called self-sabotaging your loved ones. So there’s one hat, one perspective you can view it as. The other one is for yourself because I do believe that people that struggle with substance use disorders and people who don’t struggle with substance use disorders at the end of the day are all human beings. Human beings have very similar characteristics and qualities. Not everybody self-regulates their emotions and copes and does all that kind of stuff with substances but we’re all addicted to something that takes some type of pain away. And so self-sabotage might show up in your own life – maybe you have patterns in a history of self-sabotage, whether it comes with finances, relationships, health, communication, all that kind of stuff, so I’ll give you the option on what hat you want to wear when you listen to the content that I’m providing. But no matter which way you go it’ll be valuable and we’re going to go through that. I did this with our program participants this morning at 8:00 AM our time so this is my second time going through it, so you’ll get the better, more polished kind of professional presentation of it. But all that being said, three minutes and 30 seconds of intro isn’t bad in my world – normally I ramble for longer – so here we go.

The 10 traits of self-sabotage in the recovery process, but also in life.

Trait number one is a poor understanding of people. Okay, poor understanding of people and what that means is about people. I need you to remember just a few things. Number one, that people are really weird and peculiar, okay, and I mean that in a really soft and subtle way, that people are weird and they’re all so peculiar. Think about it this way, my friends. We go through life wanting and needing things that we actually don’t have any use for. We pay for those things that we want but don’t need, with the money we don’t have, and we do so to impress people we don’t know and people we don’t like. That’s how weird human behavior is. We go through life wanting things we don’t need, we tend to pay for those things with money we don’t have, to impress people we don’t know and people we don’t like. If that’s not weird behavior I don’t know what is. And the reason why it’s important to understand how not understanding people could lead to self-sabotage is because the second fact here is we forget that people all experience the world through their own eyes and through their own perspective. There is no such thing as two people going through the same exact reality. Now you might be thinking, “What do you mean? If I’m right here and my spouse is right here, my child’s right here, we live in the same house, we eat meals together, we do the same things, we spend weekends together, so how are we not having the same reality?” We’re not. Each person’s reality in their perspective is shaped by their unique experiences that they have had. So two people for example, I was talking to our individuals – some of them were in sober living – I said you might be sitting on the same sober living couch with someone else but you’re going through two completely different experiences and the reason why this first one is – that a poor understanding of people potentially leads to self-sabotage is because it creates a false sense of reality and a false sense of security, that people are supposed to show up all the time, that people are perfect, when in reality human beings are flawed, including myself. So self-sabotage patterns of human beings when they go through that process, sometimes they put too much of their hope, eggs, faith into a person and when that person doesn’t meet the image, the whatever reality that they thought was going to have, the expectations, when it doesn’t meet that at least, “So what, screw it, I’m not even going to do it anymore,” and they’re going to self-sabotage. In the family versions of this, your kid’s doing good in recovery, and all of a sudden something happens. There’s a relapse, there’s a behavior pattern, something happens and all of a sudden you go into self-sabotage mode about your own life. And vice versa, someone could be in recovery, maybe someone they look up to, someone they have a lot of trust in, maybe that person relapses (that happens, by the way), maybe they they look up to some athlete, or they look up to some person in the media, and that person ends up being flawed, because we’re all flawed. So that’s the number one thing that I think is the number one trait of self-sabotage.

The second one is – this is very common – individuals who tend to blame other people. They blame people, they blame places, they blame things for reasons why they do not have the world that they expect. Okay, now this becomes really important because there is a huge distinction that I always talk about and that distinction is the difference between blame, fault and responsibility. It is okay if somebody does something to say, “Hey, you are at blame for this,” if what they did caused harm in you and hurt you – it was their fault. Now guess what? Put the blame aside, put the fault aside. Now as an adult you are responsible for healing those wounds. Is that fair? Probably not but it’s real, it’s true. The only kid, the only people, I ever have a lot of compassion for is when someone’s a victim of a crime, or when someone’s between the ages of 0 and 20 years old, let’s say, and they’re living up and they’re coming up in an environment that there’s abuse, there’s chaos, there’s this and that. You can never tell a kid, “Hey, you’re responsible for that.” No, that’s BS – that’s utter BS. There is no 12 year old that’s being exposed to abuse or chaos in their home that has any type of fault in that. But guess what? When that 12 year old becomes 20 years old, 25 years old, 30 years old, 35 years old, regardless of whose fault it was that those wounds got created in them, they are responsible for how they heal from that experience. It’s on them at this point and what a lot of people do when they’re older, they tend to shift blame (self-sabotage behavior) on others. So many people shift blame on something that happened 10-15-20 years ago. They shift blame on it instead of taking responsibility for their own healing. Again, it has nothing to do with whose fault it was.

By the way, for those of you obviously who watch these, you’re always welcome to write comments on the side. I do a pretty good job with pulling up those comments when there’s questions, if you have a question on this stuff feel free to. If there’s anything you want to say about it feel free to and it’s very interactive when you are participating.

So the next one of self-sabotaging behavior – this is for the parents watching this – you see this in your loved ones, but I do believe it’s all human beings. The next one is a lack of focus. Okay, a lack of focus does something and most of the individuals who come through treatment settings, and come through a recovery type world, they say, “Hey, I have a hard time focusing in life.” Okay and some of them have been diagnosed with potentially something like ADHD when they’re younger. Some of them have a hard time focusing because the cloud – the psychological, emotional, physical cloud that’s just glooming over them as a result of substance use needs to be lifted before they can see clearly and be able to focus. But the reason why people that self-sabotage have a hard time with this lack of focus is because they tend to think too broadly. They tend to look at way too many things so it is impossible to focus on multiple different things. I mean, just imagine a really nice camera lens – one of the most expensive ones you can imagine – now if there was objects that were close, objects that were far, objects that were really to the left, objects were really to the right, some were dark, some were light, the lighting of the room was all different, no matter how good that camera is it is impossible for it to be able to focus on everything. However, if that camera now all of a sudden focuses on one of the objects with how expensive of a lens it is and all that kind of stuff, imagine how perfectly it can focus and capture that image. Now people that say they have a hard time focusing – have them do something that they love, something that they’re passionate about, something that they care for, whether it’s sometimes playing a computer video game, or it’s doing something cosmetic, or it’s working on a car, or it’s playing some instruments or whatever it is, watch them get in the flow. They are able to focus so intensely because they’re focusing on something that they actually care about. And people that self-sabotage, they are focused on so many different things rather than just being focused on one. Do one thing, focus on one place and do it well and see what happens there. Because if you don’t, a lack of focus leads to two things: a waste of time and time is the most valuable commodity that we have as human beings. Time and health. Time and health go hand in hand. Time is so valuable that even if you’re watching this and you’re a billionaire you can’t just go to Rodeo Drive or Fashion Island, or one of these nice booths, specialty malls and you can’t go buy more time, no matter how smart of an investor you are, you can’t open up a safe deposit box somewhere in switzerland and later on go grab more of it. Once the seconds tick away they don’t come back. And a lack of focus makes you waste time. The second one it makes you misuse is resources. So I was talking to our program participants again today, this morning, and I told them, “Some of you that aren’t focused on why you’re here, you’re not focused on the fact that you’re here for a substance use disorder. You’re not here because you came in because you have an addiction. You’re not focused on the fact that you have unresolved trauma, you’re not focused on the fact that you have post-traumatic stress disorder. You’re not focused on the fact that you’re struggling in life and you’re just distracted. Lack of focus and just paying attention to all these superficial things is actually a misuse of the resources that are available to you right now.” Just being in a treatment setting or being in a sober environment is a resource that only less than 10 percent of all people with addictions, alcoholism, substance use disorders, mental health, even get to experience. They say there’s about 22 million people with diagnosed alcoholism, and eight and a half to nine million people with substance use disorder. That takes us to 30 million and I’m assuming it’s safe to say there’s probably 50 million people with mental health, anxiety, depression, grief and loss, PTSD, trauma, all that kind of stuff. Now you add all these together and let’s just come up with a number: this is 75 million people. Those 75 million people is not an exact number but just a ballpark. Out of those 75 million people only 10 percent of them seek treatment and out of those 10 percent, only about 10 percent of them go through treatment. So if someone is sitting inside of a treatment facility imagine the odds of that, and they’re not focused – guess what’s happening? Misuse of resources. Because out of all the other people, none of them even have the chance to sit in that chair. And I really wanted to shake some people up, and by the way family is the same way, if you’re sitting here talking, listening to me, if you’re going to your own therapy it might be the norm in your world, but for many people that’s not something that’s available to them. And thank god for community-based resources for people that don’t have the means and the funds to be able to go seek professional services. So the past two weeks, I talked about Al-anon and I talked about Adult Children of Alcoholics. I hope some of you went and just inquired about it because those are at no-cost, outside of a potential dollar that you might put in a basket for a suggested donation.

The next one for people who self-sabotage is they just lack the information. They’re not informed. So the question I asked them this morning, and I can ask you is, “Do you gather enough facts before making crucial decisions, or do you act impulsively?” It’s a very good question because a lot of times people go through an experience that’s new to them and therefore the amount of knowledge they have on it is very, very limited and narrow, and they’re going through the process and they don’t like what they’re experiencing, what they’ve gotten out of it, what they’re feeling. And here’s the thing – at that point they feel something and they just hit the eject button and just remove themselves from the situation, when maybe it’s the lack of information, the lack of knowledge, the broadening, the deepening of their knowledge base that could have potentially prevented the road of self-sabotage. And being informed, you have to go to people that potentially have that information – there’s nothing wrong with not knowing about healing, recovery, support groups, addiction, mental illness. There’s nothing wrong with not knowing that, but don’t make decisions on things that you don’t know anything about. Go to sources, go to the people, go to the ones with the experience, go to the ones with the knowledge, and learn from them. It prevents self-sabotage. I mean, the reason by the way I’m doing a talk on self-sabotage is, first of all I heard this on a business podcast that I was driving on a leadership podcast on Wednesday. Mr John C Maxwell did a leadership podcast for leaders in self-sabotage and I was like, well, anything could be applied to anyone so let’s change this around to the recovery process and recycle the content because it was wonderful. And it’s how many loved ones of yours, and potentially yourself, and there’s a couple counselors here who could vouch to this, they just say, “Hey, I just continuously get in my own way, I continuously self sabotage myself, I blow things up, I make a little progress and then I just become my own worst enemy.” This is like Treatment 101 of what we hear as clinicians and therapists. And the question is, why and when you look back to a lot of people who made crucial decisions in life without having the necessary information to make that decision? So not being informed is something that is really critical and vital when it comes to self-sabotage.

The fifth one that we’re on right now is people that self-sabotage they tend to surround themselves with negative people. Okay, when I say negative people please understand this distinction. I’m not saying bad people. I’m not one of those people that believes some people are good or some people are bad. I believe that there are people that are positive in our lives right now and people that potentially could be negative in our lives right now. That doesn’t mean they’re good or bad – all it means is in this moment in time, the people you surround yourself with – are they helping and assisting you go in the direction of your goals, your dreams, your ambitions, what you’re trying to accomplish in life, or are they taking you away from it? If the answer is they’re helping me, guiding me, supporting me, those are your people. And if they’re trying to pull you from this into another road that you’ve gone down in the past or don’t want to go to, they become negative at this point. The reason I don’t want to call anybody good or bad, and I truly don’t believe that anyone’s good or bad, is because the same people that might be negative right now might go through some life experiences, some challenges, some changes, some ups and downs, that they one day are on the same path as you and then they become positive people. 

And yeah, I mean Jim right now just wrote something. So what Jim wrote, and I’ll put it up just to show you guys how the interaction works if anyone’s new, he wrote: “Stick with the winners.” Jim is one of our primary counselors for those who don’t know at Buckeye Recovery Network – he’s been there for coming up on six years this past Sunday (Saturday or Sunday). Regardless, Jim celebrated 18 years of continuous sobriety and recovery. There’s a difference there – it’s just sobriety alone isn’t it. So Jim is no longer an adolescent – he is now an adult in the eyes of society. Sorry Jim, I had to do that. And what he’s saying there was, “Stick with the winners” – it’s something that is often used in the 12-step community. And what 12-step communities mean by that is this: when you walk in a room and there’s 20-30 people based on the meeting size up to 50-100 people or a small one, you want to look at the people that are going the way, they know the way, they show the way. It appears in their presentation, in their mood, in their language, and their mindset. You could see it in their lives, you can see the fulfillment, if you tend to follow their footsteps, there is a high possibility you will get to where they’ve gotten to. But if in the program, if you hang out with the people that are in or out all the time, that just aren’t engaged, they’re on their phones, they don’t care they’re there, because they have to be there, and that’s what you associate yourself with, we call them negative people in that moment of your life, then those people tend to not stick around for a while. So when you go to meetings you always want to look for familiar faces, oftentimes sitting in familiar seats. People that go to 12-step meetings are creatures of habit, so when you see the same person in the same place over an extended period of time you want to go up to them and say, “Hey, why do you keep coming back?” Be informed before you make a decision. So yeah, so that’s how that works. 

And Lynn wrote here to “keep away from toxic people.” So negative people could also be toxic. What toxic people are is if you hang out – so right now everybody watching this, family members or not, you’re going through a stage of your life that’s all about your own healing, your own recovery, and you need to get as much love from the environment and from yourself as you can. Because the process of going through addiction of your loved one, your spouse, your child, your grandchild is very traumatic and draining – it drains your battery, drains your soul. So in this stage of your life it’s important to have positive people around you that recharge that battery. Toxic people, when you’re spending time with them, you’ll know they’re toxic because when you leave you feel drained, you feel they just zap the soul out of you, and maybe at some point in your life when you feel better, when you’re healed, when you’ve recovered, hanging out with some toxic people doesn’t necessarily impact you as much. You’ll still feel it but it won’t zap you all the way to zero. Because guess what, when we’re completely drained we make some bad decisions. Human beings make some bad decisions when they’re around toxic people for too long. So great comments there, appreciate it.

So the next one here is expecting failure. This one really resonated with a lot of the program participants this morning. People that self-sabotage expect that they’re going to fail so they play the tape forward. “If I do this, if I take, if I do this action, if I go to this place, if I stay sober, that it’s not going to be what they say it is. This job’s not going to be as good as it is. This class is not going to be as fun as they say it’s going to be. This relationship’s not going to work out.” Everything that they view in the future has a failure expectation to it. Now why would someone be conditioned to think so is because this is what they related with at some point in their life. Let’s start with before drugs and alcohol – at some point in their life, maybe their world was developed and set up and created in a way that they always walked into some type of failure that wasn’t even their own fault. Maybe mom and dad were struggling with each other, maybe there was domestic violence, maybe there was divorce, maybe someone passed away at a young age, maybe someone let them down, maybe there was abuse, maybe there was trauma, maybe there was grief and loss or whatever it was in the world, that they never saw the future is getting any better. Because guess what, for many of them it didn’t. For many people who experience adverse childhood experiences in their childhood, their adolescence doesn’t get any better because they have no control or sway in the environment. They’re almost like prisoners that are stuck in whatever situation they’re in so they start to get conditioned that no matter what I do, no matter how I live, no matter what choices I make, it’s never going to work out anyways. So have some sympathy and empathy for that. But the other one too is because for people that come into the recovery world you have to understand that prior to getting here, prior to earning their seat if you will, they consumed ethanol poison which is alcohol. They put literally ethanol poison in their body and when you poison yourself you can’t expect success. So people that self-sabotage expect failure. If you’re putting fentanyl, opiates and heroin into your body you cannot expect success. If you’re smoking weed 24/7, if you’re sniffing things up your nose, if you’re taking dissociatives and hallucinogen drugs, you cannot expect success. So what do they expect? Failure. So now you put the conditioning of childhood plus the conditioning of substance use disorders and addictions onto an individual’s mindset and now they’re sitting clean and sober. What do you think they’re going to expect out of life? That life is going to be perfect, life’s going to be good, life’s going to be great? Absolutely not. They expect failure. So it’s all based on previous experiences. It’s all based on previous stories, and they project that. It’s called a projection. They get their past and they project it onto their future. The only way to change that is to change the story one day at a time, to change the narrative from what it used to be like to what it is now. And what does that narrative need to include? Small victories. They need to taste victory. They need to taste success. That’s why it’s so important when someone gets a 30-day chip – it’s the first time in a long time that person tasted some victory, that I can do something that I was unable to do for so dang long. The first time someone takes one community college class and gets an A, B or a C they taste some victory that they’re able to be a student which they thought they could never be. When someone gets in a relationship with someone and treats them with love and respect and honesty and loyalty it’s the first time in a long time that they didn’t fail in a relationship, and so on and so on and so on. When someone gets a job and they show up for it and they clock in on time and they leave on time it’s the first time in a long time that they changed the story of they just abandoned work and didn’t show up and had a lie and excuse for every time they weren’t there. Change the story, change the narrative. Massive action changes failure. 

The next one that I have – number seven – is being unable to learn from others. This is one of the most common traits of the self-saboteurs, self-sabotaging people. So this type of person has an I problem. Like I’m perfect, I am inflexible, I am stubborn, I am fearful, so it’s just I, I, I. Their ego is up here so they say egomaniac with an inferiority complex. That’s what it is. So when you’re looking at that, when you’re looking at that individual, someone who is unable to learn from others, it’s somebody that will self sabotage. So the example I give is actually one of my favorite examples, so bear with me. It’s a story of your loved ones and it might even be the story of you. I use a really, really weird analogy. So let’s say my name is Parham and I am addicted to banging my head against a wall: full-blown addiction. What is the definition of addiction? Continued use of a substance or behavior despite negative consequences. So my name is Parham and I’m addicted to banging my head against the wall. So let’s say I’m just walking through life one day and I go and I see this brick wall over here and this brick wall is just majestic – I’ve never seen a brick wall so nice in my life. And I go there and I take one look at it and I love banging my head against the wall so I go, I whip my head back as far as I can and I bang my head against the wall and all of a sudden I’m like, “Oh my god, I’m seeing little stars like Tweety Bird and Tweety Dum,” whatever the little cartoons are. I have a pounding headache, my eye is bruised – it looks like I just got punched and I walk away and I’m like, “Oh man, I don’t think I’ll ever do that one again.” And maybe I take off for 30-60-90 days and I say I just can’t do that, I have to figure it out, I have to get my stuff together. And I go through and remember the definition of addiction is continued use of something despite negative consequences so my addiction comes in and I’m walking and I’m addicted to banging my head against the wall so I see another wall over here and this wall is way nicer than the wall before. I mean, this one’s like high-end. It has art on it, handcrafted, stitched, different textures, different surfaces, I mean it’s a nice wall. So I go there and I say, “Hey, I’m gonna bang my head against this wall so I whip my head back as far as I can go and I bang my head against the wall as hard as I can and this time my orbital socket breaks, shatters my eye and the concussion is so bad that I fall down on the ground, I start throwing up. I’m in so much pain that I need to be taken somewhere and I need to go rest for a while, maybe 30 days in some facility. 30-60-90 days go by and I’m a self-sabotager. So what I want to do is leave and I’m like, “I just can’t bang my head against walls anymore. I got to find something else to do.” But then all of a sudden I see this wall behind me and I’m like, “Wow, I’ve never seen a wall so exciting. I’ve never been in this place in my life that I’m so compelled to bang my head against the wall. I just want and I need to bang my head against this wall. But the last few times I hit it this way it was bad. Maybe this time I’m going to go from the back of my eye just to not hurt my eyes or my nose or anything.” So I put my head forward and I bang my head up against the wall as hard as I can and it knocks me out, lights out, kind of like the TKOs you see in fights and I’m out I’m on the floor. And they have to come and take me to the hospital because I’m unconscious. In the hospital my family’s there. They’re thinking, “Oh my god, is he gonna wake up? Is he coming back to life?” My family is thinking, “Should we call grandma and grandpa and tell them what happened? I don’t think they can handle this. It might kill them to hear the news. Let’s not do that.” My family is saying, “Should we tell the kids what happened? They’re so young. We might not need to tell those kids. I don’t know how they’re going to deal with it.” The doctor’s coming in, they’re talking about, “Do we pull the plug? Do we not pull the plug?” And I told the program participants this morning, “Hey, the days you guys end up in the hospitals – those are the conversations that are happening while you are out, when you’re laying there unconscious, not knowing what happened. Mom, dad, brother, sister, aunt, uncle – they are having those conversations. And for whatever reason the same way a lot of your loved ones have woken up miraculously in hospitals (I know I have), the kid wakes up, and this is a phenomenon of addiction by the way, family members and people that might not know, you might think you wake up in the hospital and you’re all regretful and remorseful about what happened. For many people their first thought is, “I want to go get high again, I need to go get high again.” They rip off cords and they just leave the hospital. To that extent. So let’s say I wake up out of the hospital and all of a sudden I check out of the hospital and I’m walking by and I’m leaving and I go to the parking garage and I look at this brick wall, a concrete brick wall, oof that’s my favorite, and I’m looking at it – I still got my hospital bracelet on me, and I look at this concrete brick wall and I say, “Oh God, I can go bang my head against that wall!” And here’s where being unable to learn from others is one of the causes of self-sabotage. So the remedy for that is learning from others. And this is what I hope and dream that everybody gets to one day, is that I’m going up to this wall, hospital band on, just got released from banging my head against the wall, and I want to go bang my head against this concrete wall. Because it’s just so fascinating. And someone like Jim – Counselor Jim – that I just talked about, is sitting there, 18 years of sobriety and recovery. He says, “Hey, can you pause for a second?” And I say, “Okay.” He’s like, “I banged my head against that wall one too many times. I’ve lost a lot because of that. I ended up homeless because of that. I lost my health because of that, family members because of that, lost the job because of that. It was the worst pain that I’ve ever experienced in my life and my hope and dream is that nobody ever has to go through that pain again. And if I can have you – if I could support you – help you go have coffee together, sit down and talk, it helps me in my recovery. My hope is that it helps you as well.” And I go with my head back to where right before I slam my head I say, “What, I’m gonna take your word for it?” Learning from others prevents us from so much pain, so much unnecessary misery, so many consequences of our ignorance and lack of knowing, decisions and actions we take because someone that’s been there, done that, can probably help me not do that anymore. And that’s why this recovery stuff works. So the moment I tell somebody, “Hey, I’ll just take your word for it,” is the moment I start to gain this thing called wisdom. And I told a lot of your loved ones this morning or people watching in our program I said, “Hey, the problem with that is a lot of you also have trust issues.” So when someone like Jim tells me, “Hey, don’t bang your head against the wall,” and I say, “I’m going to take your word for it,” that means I need to address my trust issues so I can handle some comments like that without trust issues. I mean, yeah, but I’m not you and you’re not me and you don’t know what you’re talking about. I bang my head against the wall and that has nothing to do with the wall, nothing to do with the person, but the lack of trust that’s built in that person. And when does people’s trust get established? Trust me, it’s not in the addiction process. For many people, their core understanding of trust happens when they’re younger, when someone lies to them, when someone tells them they’re going to be there and they’re not there, when someone physically, sexually, psychologically, emotionally abuses them, when someone neglects them, they have already established their understanding of trust already, long before the drugs and alcohol. So they got to get back to that and process that stuff out, to work on that stuff.

So just three more here. We’re perfect, 35 minutes. I’m glad a lot of you are relating to this. This is really good. I don’t think you’re going to forget that head banging addiction ever, if you just replace whatever it is that you do with that head banging because it feels the same at the end of it, right? So whether it’s addiction, whether it’s codependency, whether it’s anger, whether it’s whatever, it is exactly what I’m talking about. Codependency is the same way. You say, “Hey, I’m not going to help my kid ever again,” and this and that. You do it again – it’s just like banging your head against the wall. And you say, “Okay, I’m not going to do it this time. This is all. It’s over now. Everything’s changed, I’m different,” but you do it again. It’s like banging your head against the wall and then eventually you get to the point of being in enough pain that you want to bang your head against the wall because you don’t know if you can set boundaries, you don’t know if you can stay firm to those boundaries, you don’t know if you can have the psychological and emotional strength to be strong. And then one day another family member says, “This is what you need to do.” A counselor says, “This is what I suggest,” and you say what? “I’m tired of banging my head against the wall. I’m going to take your suggestion and your feedback forward. I’m going to stop the enabling process because I can’t do this anymore.” We always say to family members, “You got to hit bottom just like the person struggling with addictions. The bottom might be different but you have to hit your bottom too,” and that’s different for everybody. Everybody’s bottom is different and a lot of factors go into that. 

So the next one is refusing to take a risk. So people that self-sabotage refuse to take a risk. Remember we talked about lack of focus? This one is related to a lack of goals. They don’t have to be big ones. It could be super small goals. Small goals over time can create a masterpiece. Think about it – it’s like if you have a 500 little piece puzzle and each day you just put one of the pieces together, eventually, just one piece at a time you’ve created a complete beautiful puzzle. People want to go do it all at once – they can’t do it and they get frustrated. So what happens is this – so many people in the therapeutic space, whether it’s someone struggling with addictions, or just someone coming to therapy because they’re experiencing anxiety or depression. So a completely subtle version of it, a different version of it: they always talk about this thing like, “I just have a fear of failure or I have a fear of success. My whole life I’ve been that way.” They talk about perfectionism or the exact opposite of it of just not trying – same coin by the way, different sides. And you hear it all the time. So up until the moment that person has awareness of that fear of failure or fear of success they just don’t know the first time they hear it they’re like, “Yes, that’s exactly what it is – I’m afraid of succeeding or I’m afraid of failing so I don’t do anything.” Once you’re aware that you have that in you now you are responsible regardless of whose fault that was by the way, because it was someone’s fault – it was someone’s fault that that happened to you. If you have a super highly critical parent growing up and you’re afraid of making mistakes, yeah they caused that in you, but now as an adult if you’re still afraid of making mistakes even though it was their fault, guess who’s responsible for overcoming that? You. If you feel like you’re not good enough because somebody always told you you weren’t good enough, so therefore you don’t try, because you’re like, “Why should I try? I’m not good enough.” It was their fault for saying all those things to you. At some point in your life now it’s your responsibility to do something about the fact that you’re not good enough, that you don’t feel like you’re not good enough. Because you are good enough by the way, you’re good enough exactly as who you are, and exactly as who you’re not. But you just don’t have a connection to that. So the antidote, the remedy for this is, you just have to do something, you just have to get an action, massive action, do something. It doesn’t matter if you think you’re going to succeed or fail, you just have to get into the action. Because that’s where it all comes from. 

Yeah, and that’s another thing too – this is good – Jim’s giving some good one-liners here today – so fear – we talk about fear of failure, fear of success, FEAR is ‘Face Everything And Recover.’ Or F* Everything (I can’t say what that means), F* Everything And Run. So two options, same coin. Face Everything And Recover is a choice. Recover means to regain something that’s been lost, stolen or destroyed, so face everything, even your demons, even your inadequacies, even your resentments, even your traumas, and recover something that’s been lost, stolen or destroyed. And that’s your connection to yourself and connection to whatever spiritual entity or connection to others. How about that? That’s a good one. Or F* Everything And Run, self-sabotage over and over and over again – it’s a choice. People are free to make the choices they want but they are not free of the consequences of those choices. Ain’t that the truth? You’re free to do whatever you want, my friends. You can or you cannot take any of the words I’m saying and do anything with them however and that’s your choice and that’s totally cool by the way, I accept that, but you’re not free of the consequences of those choices. So that one is up to you.

The last two. The next one says people that self-sabotage a lot have undisciplined living. So they’re just undisciplined, whether it comes with their schedules, it comes with their patterns, their habits, it comes with their values. Our discipline and values are a thing. Because if you don’t stand for something you’ll fall for anything. So in life, you have to show up and work by your standards, not your moods. People who are undisciplined are dominantly controlled by their moods. “When I feel like it I’ll do it, when I feel like it I’ll go to a meeting, but I don’t feel like it. When I feel like it I’ll go have a conversation with someone that i’ve been avoiding but I’m just not feeling like it. When I feel like it I’ll take care of myself but I’m just not feeling like it.” If you allow your feelings and your moods to dictate your life you will have one undisciplined life that will always lead to self-sabotage. But if your standards and your values are your north star, your guiding principles, regardless of how you feel you’re gonna do you’re gonna take the action. They always say get into contrary action, so if you’re not feeling like you should do something that’s a sign, it’s like a glaring headlight, so that’s exactly what you need to do in that moment. Contrary actions of your moods.

And the very last one, number 10 says, being stopped by failure. So people who self-sabotage stop completely when they experience failure or perceived failure, because you could spin failure and make it a really big success. And I’m gonna leave with this favorite, favorite quote of mine from a man named Robin Williams, which I’m pretty sure you all know (Rest In Peace). Anytime you’re feeling down or sad, put on a Robin Williams movie and watch that man continue to give for days and generations and years and on and on and on. It says, “A hungry stomach, an empty wallet and a broken heart can teach you the best lessons in life.” Isn’t that the truth? I’m really big on autobiographies of people that are influential, people that are successful in whatever field that they’re in. Obviously, success is a very wide range, loose word, but whether they’re chefs or they’re athletes or they’re humanitarians or they’re just influential people, actors, that kind of stuff, actresses, when you learn about these people, the really successful ones, when you learn about them and you read about their upbringing and read about their life, you will notice a very, very quick pattern and trend. Not all of them, obviously there’s exceptions to everything, but many of them come from very difficult and challenging childhoods and upbringings. So they didn’t let failure stop them. And for people that self-sabotage, when they experience one failure they’re just, “This isn’t for me, this is too much.” So if you have a hungry stomach right now, if you have an empty wallet right now, and you have a broken heart right now I hope that could be the foundation that you can build up your entire life. That’s what I want you to take with you today. So don’t self sabotage it. Don’t quit before the miracle happens. Don’t be impulsive without having all the information prior to investigation. Don’t have contempt prior to investigation. Investigate honestly, openly, ask questions, learn from people, know as much as you can before making a big life decision. And my hope is that you’re able to build a really beautiful life for yourself on the foundation that failure can bring. 

So all that being said, thank you for another family education and support. And by the way, these are always, always, always on our Facebook page. All you have to do is rewatch them, or if you share them with anybody in your world it would be appreciated, because this is good stuff for a lot of people to hear. Yeah, thanks, all the thank yous, for coming in. Russ, Lynn, Eileen, appreciate you guys for everything. On a weekly basis, you can count on me to be here again next week, and hopefully for many weeks to come after that, so you’re welcome Jim. I’ll see you guys soon, okay, have a wonderful weekend!

Do You Have Childhood Trauma? PART 2: 8 More Questions to Ask Yourself

This is part 2 of the 16 questions to ask yourself if you experienced Childhood Trauma. In this post we talk about questions 9 through 16.

Read part 1

9. Do you respond with fear to authority?

If a child grew up in an environment where someone with authority was explosive, whether it was a parent, grandparent, foster parents, adopted parents, the child becomes terrified of the sounds and sight of someone being angry. The same fear could continue on later into life when they encounter angry people or angry situations that could trigger emotions from their childhood.

10. Do you have trouble with intimate relationships?

One version of an intimate relationship is physical and sexual. Another version of an intimate relationship could also be having a problem with allowing other people to know what’s going on within. Do you have a hard time opening up to people? Do you have a hard time expressing your internal world to others, allowing other people to see you, to hear you, to connect to you? Do you have trouble with intimate relationships? If there was dysfunction in your family regarding intimacy, when a child was hurt and taken advantage of by their own primary caregivers, the same child has trouble with intimate relationships later on in life, whether it’s platonic relationship, business, or romance.

11. Do you attract compulsive and abusive relationships?

Abusive relationships are not always related to physical abuse. If your child or loved one continues to abuse you and take advantage of you and manipulate you and psychologically destroy you, that’s an abusive relationship. This often happens because of unresolved issues in the past. Until those issues are resolved, people tend to fall back into the same kinds of relationships over and over again. Unresolved issues attract the very same issues back into life. Anybody that’s abusive continues to be that same person in every relationship they show up in.

12. Do you cling to relationships because you are afraid to be alone?

Boredom is defined as the inability to sit with oneself, the inability to be alone with oneself. This typically happens because at some point in their life when a person was alone they were afraid and uncomfortable, so they go to great lengths in order not to be alone. Many children and teens today spend any alone time on their phones and social media so they can be connected to people and not be alone. Cell phones are just as addicting as smoking is and people do it so that they don’t feel alone. Many people tolerate and put up with relationships because they just can’t be with themselves. This is typically because at some point in their life they couldn’t be with themselves because they were scared, terrified and afraid of being alone as a child.

13. Do you mistrust your own feelings and the feelings of others?

If a person has trust issues as an adult, the roots of it were probably in a home with family dysfunction where they could not trust the environment they were growing up in. For example, if a parent said they would be there for a game or for the holidays and they were consistently not available, that could lead to trust issues. If a parent was addicted to alcohol leading to instability at home, that could lead to trust issues. Unfortunately the same trust issues persist into their adult lives and the same behavior is inflicted on their loved ones. Even if it was the most painful thing that ever happened to someone, they end up inflicting it on others when it’s untreated and unresolved.

14. Do you have trouble unlearning what’s not serving you?

We don’t just learn behavior when we’re children. We can learn behavior later on in life.

“The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.”
-Alvin Toffler

Can you unlearn what’s not serving you and can you relearn something that’s going to help you move forward? Family dysfunction and childhood trauma need not be a death sentence. For a lot of people family dysfunction and childhood trauma is the catalyst for who they are and allows them to transcend into somewhere that they would never have gotten to without it. Our pain becomes our greatest asset but there’s no value to any of that stuff if we don’t channel it and process it and use it for the positive. When you read the autobiographies of really successful people, musicians, athletes, or entrepreneurs you may notice that their childhood wasn’t that good. They had a lot of dysfunction in their home but the beauty comes from what they did with it, how they used it, and how it served them. However, there are a lot of people that have family dysfunction, childhood trauma and they just repeat the same cycle over and over again because they didn’t do anything with it. 

15. Do you find it difficult to identify and express your emotions?

Identifying emotions and expressing emotions are two different things. Before you can express your emotions you have to understand and identify what you’re experiencing. A lot of people have a hard time expressing their emotions because they can’t identify them. If you don’t know what you’re experiencing, how can you see it, how can you articulate it, how can you express it?

This is where counseling, therapy, group therapy and support groups are helpful because you get to talk and in that talking you start to identify, “Oh, that’s how I’m feeling,” or someone identifies something and says how they felt.

Expressing emotions is a whole different thing. The hand is directly connected to the heart. That’s why you can write things down on a piece of paper that you could never say to another person. It bypasses that filter of judgment. So the first homework assignment for anyone that has a hard time identifying and expressing their emotions is to grab a piece of paper and pen and start writing. It’s called stream of consciousness writing. Writing it out helps get the emotions out, and it creates the psychological and emotional muscles to be able to articulate it one day to somebody.

16. Do you think your upbringing in family dysfunction and childhood trauma affected you?

It is common knowledge that there was abuse, psychological, emotional, physical, or if there was alcoholism at home, a child in that family will be impacted. When they grow up into adults, they minimize what they have experienced but severe dysfunction and childhood trauma does not happen to everyone. These unresolved issues are the roots of the behavior patterns that will continue into their adult life and manifest in their relationships, at work, with their children, friends and peers. Until they recognize that they need to process those childhood experiences in order to change the narrative, the negative impacts will continue to show up. Programs such as Al-anon and Adult Children of Alcoholics or Addicts are helpful in bringing out some of these issues into the open. These are free programs and local support groups.

Get Help

If you would really like to address the roots of these issues, it is highly recommended to seek a therapist or a counselor to help address the unresolved experiences. Every human being is an independent entity from their loved ones. It is not enough to help your loved ones receive treatment and therapy for their issues. It is important that you address your own issues as well. Your loved ones becoming sober will help their peace of mind, however you will not experience the same peace of mind until you address and resolve your traumatic experiences. Reach out to Buckeye Recovery Network for help.

Do You Have Childhood Trauma? PART 1: 8 Questions to Ask Yourself

Most people who end up in sober recovery communities and addiction programs come from some type of dysfunction in the home, where they may have had childhood adverse experiences, because addiction is one of the outcomes of family dysfunction and childhood trauma. It doesn’t necessarily mean that it always leads there but there is a high possibility for it. 

The questions below are designed to help you gain insight and understanding into the potential impact your family dysfunction may have had on your loved one or on yourself, and how it continues to have consequences in your life, if it has not been treated or resolved by addressing the underlying causes and the roots of the trauma.

1. Do you constantly seek approval?

When you are a product of a dysfunctional home and experience childhood trauma, it is very common that that individual is constantly seeking approval or affirmation later on in life. This is the person that is in a relationship and is constantly asking the other person, “Do you love me, do you love me, do you love me, do you love me?” It’s because at some point in their life maybe nobody told them they loved them and they never experienced love. Later on in life when they are an adult in a relationship they continue to have that same adult-child mentality. This is an example of unresolved issues of family dysfunction and childhood trauma that appear later on in life. 

2. Do you fail to recognize your own accomplishments?

Failure to recognize accomplishments is something we see often in Buckeye Recovery programs. When someone accomplishes something, whether it is a degree or getting sober, they put themselves down because they fail to recognize and acknowledge their own accomplishments. This is typically because growing up in a dysfunctional family, maybe when they achieved something and accomplished something, nobody was there to support them, love them, or pat them on the back. All accomplishments need to be celebrated because small accomplishments accumulated on top of each other become big accomplishments. One can’t have a big accomplishment without minor daily accomplishments.

3. Do you fear criticism?

If you are a byproduct of a dysfunctional home, or you have childhood trauma, you are probably terrified of criticism because one of the characteristics of a dysfunctional home is having highly critical parents, or a highly critical environment where no matter what you do is not good enough. This in turn prompts the individual to go on a lifelong pursuit of perfection, where if someone criticizes them, they are terrified of it. They see it as a personal attack to their character, rather than their actions.

4. Do you overextend yourself?

Overextending yourself is usually the result of trying to make up for lost time by taking on everyone else’s stuff and then end up feeling overwhelmed and giving up. This is a cycle they often repeat because they are trying to compensate for a lack of something at some point in their life. 

5. Do you have a need for perfection?

A need is usually a basic necessity such as water, shelter, food, safety, and love. However some people have a need for perfection because of family dysfunction and childhood trauma. When a child’s home life is in disarray the only way they know to survive it is to show up perfectly. They think who they are and how they are is not enough and that they need to be more perfect somehow. Unfortunately, when they become adults this leads to a significant fear of failure, a significant fear of success, crippled mental paralysis, and self-sabotaging behavior. This could also translate into a need for perfection from everyone else around them as well. Being disappointed in the people around them could create loneliness.

6. Are you uneasy when life is going smoothly?

Children raised in a dysfunctional home where there were chaos, problems and challenges to overcome constantly feel uncomfortable when they experience calmness. Their brain is wired to expect something chaotic to happen. 

Many people who are in the beginning stages of their recovery process feel uncomfortable when their life starts to get calmer because the consequences of their using substances are no longer happening, they start to get uneasy. Through years of living in a chaotic experience, dysfunctional home, and childhood trauma, they are addicted to chaos, and their brain has been wired to deal with chaos. So that when things get calm they intentionally or unintentionally destroy it all to create chaos again. This happens with a lot of chronic relapses.

7. Do you feel responsible for others?

When a child was raised in a family where they had to become the primary caregiver for their younger sibling, they take on adultlike responsibilities. When the same child becomes an adult and is in a relationship, they start to attract people who they can take care of and become responsible for, so that they can show up in a caregiving role. This develops codependency, and getting into jobs and careers and fields that they become caregivers in, such as nursing. 

8. Do you isolate yourself from other people?

One of the most common behaviors we notice in our clients is isolation. Isolation leads to relapse because they are stuck with their own thoughts. Even though some people tend to be more introverted than others, and uncomfortable in groups of people, isolation is a different phenomenon which can lead to depression. Human beings are communal beings who are wired to gather together to work in groups and live in communities. We are meant to be together and connected. So when someone is isolating that goes opposite of our true essence. Children who grow up in a home with family dysfunction and experience childhood trauma where it is not conducive for connection and togetherness isolate themselves to cope with dysfunction, for self-preservation and safety. When these children grow up into adults they isolate because they find safety in isolation. However isolation negatively impacts mental health and often causes depression.

PART 2

Read part 2 where we discuss 9 through 16 of the questions to ask yourself if you had experienced Childhood Trauma.

Get Help

If you would really like to address the roots of these issues, it is highly recommended to seek a therapist or a counselor to help address the unresolved experiences. Every human being is an independent entity from their loved ones. It is not enough to help your loved ones receive treatment and therapy for their issues. It is important that you address your own issues as well. Your loved ones becoming sober will help their peace of mind, however you will not experience the same peace of mind until you address and resolve your traumatic experiences. Reach out to Buckeye Recovery Network for help.

How Childhood Trauma Impacts Your Adulthood

There is a difference between trauma and something being traumatic. A traumatic event is something that happens, whereas trauma is the response of that traumatic event in the mind, the body, the spirit, the soul of the human being. So trauma is a byproduct of a traumatic event.

If you grew up in a home where there was psychological, physical, emotional, or sexual abuse, neglect, abandonment, divorce, separation or death, you may have grown up in a dysfunctional environment. If your parent or a primary caregiver was addicted to substances, or if they were incarcerated, or suffered mental health issues, you may have experienced childhood trauma. If these issues remain unaddressed and unresolved, they impact you in a way that dysregulates your emotions. To regulate your emotions you may have turned to alcohol, drugs or addictive behaviors.

Adverse Childhood Experiences

Vincent Fellitti, a world renowned expert on childhood trauma did a study on working with individuals that came through obesity clinics. He noticed that for some of them, no matter what he did, whether it was education, or medication, or a change in lifestyle, diet, or nutrition, these individuals were unable to, after a period of time, lose the weight, or maintain the weight loss. He recognized that there could be other factors and began to explore into the world of trauma to see what these individuals experienced in their life that they’re unable to adapt, or utilize these tools that are being given to them. He created a list called the Adverse Childhood Experiences of eight types of experiences.

The 8 Adverse Childhood Experiences:

  1. Did you ever experience any type of physical/sexual abuse?
  2. Did you ever experience any type of psychological abuse?
  3. Did you ever experience any type of neglect or abandonment?
  4. Did you ever watch physical abuse, like domestic violence in the home?
  5. Did one of your primary caregivers go to prison?
  6. Were they mentally ill?
  7. Were they addicted to substances?
  8. Was there divorce or separation in their life?

He tracked these experiences from the ages of zero to 18 and found, without any shadow of a doubt, that individuals who have been through adverse childhood experiences were impaired later on in various areas in life.

Impact on family unit

When an individual has been negatively impacted by family dysfunction and childhood trauma, the same problems show up in their own families when they become adults and form their own family units.

It doesn’t always have to have a negative impact: you could be rooted in love and a good family and a good upbringing and bring all that in a relationship. But if you come from dysfunction and you never worked on it there will be dysfunction inside your home. If you experience certain things as a child such as alcoholism, addiction, divorce, or separation, there will be some of the same experiences repeating again when they become adults.

Hurt people hurt people.

People who are hurt when they don’t work on their stuff hurt the next generation. The next generation, if they don’t work on their stuff, will hurt the generation that’s not even here yet. 

It takes courage to delve into the roots of our behavior patterns. The definition of courage is the ability to take action despite of fear and discomfort. It’s a courageous act to dive into the roots of our behavior patterns because there is fear in those roots. Because when the fears developed originally, it was when they were a child in a dysfunctional home experiencing childhood trauma. Addressing those fears takes the individual back to the time when they were a child in trauma.

Get Help Now

If you are suffering from addiction as well as trauma, you know that unresolved and unprocessed trauma continues to make the future look like the past. If you want to free yourself from the chains of the past, then looking at the appropriate time with the appropriate provider and the appropriate clinician to address trauma is something that is necessary for long-term success in the recovery world.

When you’re ready to start your recovery reach out to us at https://buckeyerecoverynetwork.com/

Family Dysfunction and Childhood Trauma

Okay, we are live! What is up everybody, Happy Saturday! It is September 18th of 2021. Really happy and grateful to be back for another family education and support group with whoever is watching and listening. Wherever you are, I hope you’re doing well. I’m looking forward to providing some valuable insight and information to you to hopefully help you in your recovery and healing journey. So this talk today is for anybody who has gone through family dysfunction, is going through family dysfunction, and how that can potentially have impacted their own upbringing and development. And not only that, but the upbringing and development of their current family. So we’re talking about family dysfunction and childhood trauma. It’s one of my passion areas to speak about so if you see me a little bit more lit up to talk about this topic today there’s a reason for it. Because as a mental health professional and someone that works in the field of addictions a lot of it goes back to trauma, a lot of it goes back to family dysfunction and my hope is that if this is something that you are interested in, you watch, you ask questions, you’re always free to ask questions. If you want to jump on and talk to me during the live, you can as well and we’ll go from there.

 

So let me tell you a little bit about myself. Whether you’re watching this for the first time or you’re going to watch this later on recording, my name is Parham. I have a master’s degree in marriage and family therapy with an emphasis in child development, which is going to come handy in this one. I am a licensed advanced addictions counselor. Personally, how I got into this field was on June 13th of 2008 I found myself as a program participant due to my own drinking and using an addictive behavior. And I also coach high school basketball – this is our 14th season I’m there and really grateful to be a part of that. And hopefully today is going to be a valuable talk so that long-winded introduction was to allow anyone to come here. What’s up Julian, and anyone that’s with Julian – if I know you, it’s good to see you – it’s good to know that you’re on and we’ll go from there. 

 

So questions – with all that being said let me start this off – I’m gonna share some questions. And by the way for those of you who have loved ones in our program, I did this talk, a very similar talk, this morning at 8 00 a.m to our program participants. And I’ll tell you, you couldn’t hear a pin drop in there because everybody was so engaged with this, because a lot of people who end up in sober recovery communities, to programs, all that kind of stuff they do come from some type of dysfunction in the home, they do come from childhood adverse experiences, and it’s just a part of the process, because addictions is one of the outcomes of family dysfunction – it’s one of the outcomes of adverse childhood experiences. It doesn’t necessarily mean that it always leads there but there’s a high possibility for it. What’s up Debbie? What’s up Lynn? So these questions are designed to help you gain a little bit of insight and understanding into the impact that potentially your family dysfunction may have had on your loved one or on yourself, and as growing up, and how that kind of continues to have consequences in your life, without treating it, without resolving it, without going back to the underlying causes and the roots of it and really addressing it. So this talk is just as important for the family members watching this as it is for anybody that’s gone through addictions or is going through addictions and so here they are. Okay, I’m just going to go through the questions very similar to what we did last week. 

 

I got some really good feedback regarding the content of that talk, so this is a different version of it – just talking about family dysfunction and childhood trauma. And I do want to distinguish this real quick. There’s a difference between trauma and something being traumatic. Traumatic is an event – a traumatic event is something that happens, it’s something that happens. Trauma is the response of that traumatic event in the mind, the body, the spirit, the soul of the human being. So trauma is a byproduct of a traumatic event. Okay, so here are the questions that I would like to ask and again let me just preface this – if you are a family member and you have a loved one going through addictions, maybe as I’m going through these don’t think about your loved one for a little bit and just think about yourself and see if any of these land on you. And also if you did have a family unit yourself that had some dysfunction in it you could also think about how it possibly could have impacted your loved one. So there’s no fault here, there’s no blame here, this stuff, like I always say, is quite often multi-generational – it’s passed down and we’ll go from there.

 

So number one, do you constantly seek approval or affirmation? When you are a product of a dysfunctional home, when you experience childhood trauma, it’s very common that that individual later on in life is constantly seeking approval or affirmation. This is the person that gets in a relationship and is constantly asking the other person, “Do you love me, do you love me, do you love me, do you love me?” And here’s the thing – why would somebody have the need to continuously confirm if someone else loves them? It’s because at some point in their life maybe nobody told them they loved them. At some point in their life maybe they never experienced love. So now later on in life they’re an adult, they’re in relationships and they have that same adult-child mentality. “Do you love me, do you love me, do you love me?” See, all this is, is unresolved issues of family dysfunction and childhood trauma that’s now appearing and showing up later on in life. So if you have that you want to look and see why do I have this constant need? Why do I keep seeking approval? Why do I have this need to be loved? Where does that come from? 

 

Do you fail to recognize your own accomplishments? Failure to recognize accomplishments: so this happens all the time in the program. Someone graduates – “oh it’s not that big of a deal.” Someone gets a bachelor’s degree – “I should have got that a long time ago.” Someone gets a job – “anyone can get a job.” Someone gets clean and sober for 30 days – “yeah, it’s not that big of a deal, I should have done this a while ago.” People who fail to acknowledge and recognize their own accomplishments, at some point in life growing up family dysfunction, maybe when they achieved something and accomplished something, nobody was there to support them, love them, pat them on the back, and it seemed like it’s not a big deal. Accomplishments need to be celebrated – there is no such thing as a small accomplishment. All accomplishments are beautiful, they need to be celebrated, because small accomplishments accumulated on top of each other become big accomplishments. So there’s no such thing as a small one – you can’t have a big accomplishment without minor daily accomplishments.

 

So the next one is, do you fear criticism? If you’re a byproduct of a dysfunctional home, or you have childhood trauma, you’re terrified of criticism because oftentimes what is one of the characteristics of a dysfunctional home? Maybe there’s highly critical parents there, maybe there’s a highly critical environment that no matter what you do isn’t good enough. So you go on this lifelong pursuit of perfection, and when someone wants to criticize you, you are terrified of it. Because you see that as a personal attack to your character, not what you’re doing. You feel like you’re not good enough and there it is one more time, they stick the dagger in, they turn it around a little bit and one more time, you’re not good enough.

 

So the next one here (a lot of family members are going to identify with this one) is, do you overextend yourself? Overextending yourself – do you overextend yourself? So this is the classical doing a lot to make up for lost time, this is the classic taking on everyone else’s stuff and feeling overwhelmed and then saying, “you know I got too much stuff going on and I can’t do this anymore,” and you wave the white flag, and then again you repeat the cycle again. So why does someone overextend themselves? Because they’re trying to compensate for a lack at some point in their life. All of this stuff – by the way I’m not putting fault or blame on any of this stuff – I’m just saying if you know that you come from dysfunction or childhood trauma. 

 

And by the way some of you might be wondering right now, “Parham what the heck is family dysfunction? What is childhood trauma?” I’ll give you some of them. If you grew up in a home that there was psychological, physical, emotional, sexual abuse, if you grew up in a home that there was neglect, if you grew up in a home that there was abandonment, if you grew up in a home that mom or dad or primary caregiver was addicted to drugs and alcohol, if you grew up in a home that they had mental illness, if you grew up in a home that a parent or caregiver all of a sudden died or there was divorce or separation, if you grew up in a home that their one family member had to go to a jail or institutions for their mental health or jail for their behavior, and if you grew up in a home watching physical abuse and domestic violence inside your home, these are all classified as family dysfunction and childhood trauma. So those are the things that impact us later on in life when they are unresolved. Those are the things that impact your loved ones when they are unresolved. If you’re watching this and your kid’s gone through a bunch of treatment episodes and you knew that a lot of those things existed inside your home I’m not saying it’s because of those that they’re drug addicted with drugs and alcohol. But I’ll tell you this: those things influence their internal world and what they think about themselves and what they feel about themselves and who they are. It disregulated their emotions, it caused them to need to regulate their emotions with something external: drugs, alcohol, behavior, people – you know, all that kind of stuff.

 

So the next one is, do you have a need for perfection? So this doesn’t say do you like perfection? Need for perfection – do you want perfection? Do you have a need for perfection? A need is like water, shelter, food, safety, love. Why would someone have a need for perfection? It’s because of family dysfunction and childhood trauma. The home life was so messed up that the only way to survive it in the mind of a child was to show up perfectly. Children try that when they’re young, by the way, and then later on you know what, that becomes a significant fear of failure, a significant fear of success, crippled mental paralysis, self-sabotaging behavior, starting things and never finishing them. Sound familiar? So why would someone have a need for perfection? It’s because they feel that who they are and how they are isn’t enough, they need to be a different way. And I always share this quote that I love, they say “Expectations are the root of all heartbreaks.” So when a person expects themselves to be perfect, and by the way if you have an expectation for yourself to be perfect, guess who else you have an expectation of to be perfect? Everyone you come across, everyone you meet you set a bar and that’s where they’re supposed to meet, and when they fall short of that bar, because guess what they will fall short of that bar because we’re human beings and human beings change through the different times and situations and circumstances and everything going through them you’re going to constantly be disappointed. When you’re constantly disappointed it’s a lonely way to live life. You know, I believe that all human beings are perfect exactly as they are and exactly how they’re not. People are perfect for who they are and who they’re not. There’s eight billion people in this world and there’s eight billion thumbprints and no two people need to be the same way. You know the comparison, oh my good god, does that hurt people. 

 

Impact on family units. So the next one is this. Now we’re getting a little bit deeper into family dysfunction, how it shows up later on in life. This by the way isn’t just about your loved ones who have drug and alcohol problems – this is about you and your upbringing and how your upbringing impacted the family unit that you’ve created. Trust me, those things are all connected. Being a therapist working with thousands of people, I have yet to meet a person that creates their own family unit, gets married, has their kids, creates their own family unit and the impact that their childhood had on them doesn’t show up later on in life. I’ve yet to meet one person. Now it doesn’t always have to have a negative impact: you could be rooted in love and a good family and a good upbringing and all that stuff and bring all that in a relationship. But if you come from dysfunction and you never worked on it there will be dysfunction inside your home. Not maybe, not might, there will be dysfunction in your home. If you experience certain things as a child with stuff like the alcoholism, the addiction, the divorce, the separation, there will be some of that same stuff repeating itself again. Remember, hurt people hurt people. We say this almost every week and I say it for a reason. Because there’s no fault or blame here. People that are hurt when they don’t work on their stuff, they hurt the next generation. The next generation, if they don’t work on their stuff they’re going to hurt the generation that’s not even here yet. 

 

So the next one is, are you uneasy when your life is going smoothly? Continually anticipating problems? So why would someone continually anticipate problems? Why would someone get uneasy if everything’s cool and calm and collected? Again, it has nothing to do with the present moment. At some point in their life when they were younger in a dysfunctional home there was constantly some chaos, some problem, some challenge, something to overcome, some barrier that they could never be comfortable and just sit in peace. So the brain is wired for that, so now in life if everything gets cool, calm, collected, they feel that something is about to happen, the shoe is about to drop, the calm before the storm. These reasons, these things all exist is because their brain is wired that way. So many human beings that go through the recovery process, in the beginning of the recovery process when their life starts to get calmer because the consequences of their using are no longer happening, they start to get uneasy – they are addicted to chaos, the brain through years of living in a chaotic experience, dysfunctional home, childhood trauma, has been addicted, wired to deal with chaos. You know what they do when things get calm? They go and blow it all up, they destroy it all to create that chaos, and then they put it all back together. This happens with a lot of chronic relapses – if you ask them they say they just get too uncomfortable when everything’s okay. They’re more comfortable when things are a mess. I know that sounds completely counterintuitive to what you know of normal rational thinking, but to them that’s rational to them, that’s comfortable. 

 

Do you feel responsible for others as you did for the problem drinker or the person that was dysfunctional in your home? So today we had a talk… What’s up everyone? Everyone’s saying hi right now. You know there’s three of you guys, Tony, Jose, Marina, what’s up everyone? So do you feel responsible for others? I was just doing this talk this morning for our program participants about responsibility and one of them said that when they were six years old (I can’t really say guy or girl), when they were six years old their family was always working and they were the primary caregiver. You know, this kid was a primary caregiver for like the two-year-old brother. And there’s nothing wrong – I mean, I get that people go to work and they got a kid and say, “Hey, take care of your little brother,” but in the mind of that six-year-old, that six-year-old starts to think that “I am responsible for others, I am responsible for the safety of others, I am responsible for taking care of others.” Now again, there’s nothing wrong with this, but what happens there later on when that six-year-old becomes 20 years old and gets in a relationship and hasn’t worked on all of that? They start to become responsible for other people in relationships. When they’re dating somebody they’re going to find someone, not that’s healthy and good and doing okay, they’re going to find someone that they can show up as that caregiving role, they can be responsible for. It develops codependency, it develops getting into jobs and careers and fields that they become caregivers in. You know a lot of nurses – by the way if you don’t know this – a lot of nurses come from some type of adversity, childhood dysfunction, family dysfunction, that they were the primary caregiver at a really young age, so they become like this person that takes care of other people. And guess what, later on in life they’re like, “Yeah, you know, I got into nursing because I like caring for other people, taking care of other people, this and that.” So they believe that who they are and what they’re doing is who they are – it is an adaptation of their childhood. All it is, is they took on a role as a child and they continue to live it out as an adult and so that’s just an interesting fact right there.

 

So this next one is huge when it comes to relapse and recovery the question is do you isolate yourself from other people? So one of the most common things – I know we got some counselors watching this, you’ll hear all the time – they just started isolating, they just stopped hanging out with people. Isolation leads to relapse because you’re stuck with your own thoughts. So if the question is, do you isolate yourself from other people, I want you to know this: that alone is a very odd thing for human beings. Now, I understand we have something called extroverted, I understand we have something called introverted. I understand some people when they’re by themselves they charge their batteries and they’re uncomfortable being around a group of people, when they’re around a group of people they feel like their battery gets sucked and when they’re by themselves they recharge it. However, isolation is a completely different phenomenon. Isolation is really linked with depression. And I’ll tell you this because in isolation when you’re by yourself your batteries aren’t charging, you’re staying drained. And human beings, since the beginning of the human story, since the beginning of human history, we have been labeled as communal beings. We work in groups, we gather together, we do things together. Human beings are meant to be together and connected. So when someone is isolating that goes opposite of our true essence. So the question becomes, why does one person isolate? Why does someone isolate? I’ll tell you this – it always goes back to childhood and early development. Why does someone isolate? If you’re coming up in a home with a lot of family dysfunction, if you’re coming up in a home with childhood trauma and again psychological, physical, social, sexual, abuse, neglect, parents drinking, parents fighting, domestic violence, people with mental illness that’s unchecked, people going in and out of hospitals. in and out of jails, separation, divorce, abandonment, that’s what I’m talking about. When you’re coming up with that, that’s not a fun environment for a child to go connect to. That’s not conducive to them. It’s not like I don’t want to go connect myself to this chaotic world so what does a kid do? They isolate for survival. They go in their room, they put their headphones on as loud as they can and they play their video games. They go in their room and they paint and they draw. They go in the room, just get lost in TV, they eventually start running away and doing things, climbing trees, just getting away from people, doing whatever the heck they can do. They isolate to cope with dysfunction. Now if you’re isolating to cope with dysfunction and for self-perseverance and for safety, and you’re doing this at a time in your life that you’re developing in a moment by moment interaction with the environment, five years down the line, 10 years down the line, 15 years down the line, you’re isolating. You’re isolating because you found safety at some point and now you’re no longer finding it. We see this all the time with people in sober living. There’s someone that isolates all the time and the challenge that I gave to the program participants today was: I said, “When you see a guy or girl isolating walk up to him and say, hey you want to go sit outside and talk for a few minutes? You want to go walk to the beach? You want to go spend some time? You want to go do something?” Because in that moment that’s exactly what that person needs but they don’t have the words, the vocabulary, or the language to ask for it. Because at some point in their life when they needed to ask for it they weren’t able to and you might be thinking to yourself, “Well, they’re not a kid anymore, they’re grown now, they should know better, they should do better.” That’s not the way human beings work. Just think about your own behavior. Do you ever do things that you wonder, “Why am I still doing it?” Do you ever do things and you wonder, “Why am I still doing this? I know better,” but despite knowing it you still do it. Everybody knows you’re not supposed to isolate, it’s bad for your mental health, it’s bad for depression, yet people still isolate. So these things are all rooted in childhood. I’m glad you identified with that, Russ, good to see you on this man, thanks for your support all these weeks.

 

So the next one that I have is, do you respond with fear to authority? Do you respond with fear to angry people? So this is a straight conditioning – it’s a straight conditioning 101. If you grew up in an environment that someone was explosive, whether it was a mom or dad or sibling or grandparent, foster parents, adopted parents, if they’re explosive and you’re a child and you get terrified, you get terrified from the sounds, you get terrified from the sights, someone’s angry, you know children aren’t comfortable around that. And later on in life someone’s yelling and screaming around you and all of a sudden you revert back to a childlike state – you could be 45 years old but if you watch someone yelling or screaming the way someone yelled or screamed and you haven’t worked on your issues and your trauma, it’s going to trigger you and take you right back to that. So if you’re ever wondering that it happened as a child and as an adult you should get over it, that it shouldn’t happen anymore, just think about yourself when you get triggered. And this is by the way, some of you might be saying, “Hey, yeah, I experienced all that but I worked on myself,” this is for people who haven’t addressed all these issues, this is for people that are like a raw nerve, people that don’t have coping skills, people that don’t know how to regulate their emotions.

 

And the next one (so now we’re getting into relationships, I think that’s where it gets important) – do you have trouble with intimate Intimate relationships? So intimate relationships – when I bring this up at first, the first thought is always like talking about intimacy: physical, sexual, that type of relationship that is an intimate relationship. That’s one version of an intimate relationship but an intimate relationship could also be, if you have a problem with allowing other people to know what’s going on inside of you. Do you have a hard time opening up to people? Do you have a hard time expressing your internal world to others, allowing other people to see you, to hear you, to connect to you? Do you have trouble with intimate relationships? And here’s the thing: where do we first get our first intimate relationships? Home, family unit, mom, dad, siblings, grandparents. Now, if you had dysfunction in that first impression of what it means to be intimate to human beings, if that whole system was unhealthy and dysfunctional, and now later on in life you’ve never resolved it, you never worked on those issues, and now later on in life you’re wondering, “Why can’t I just get close to people? Why do I have intimacy issues? Why is it so hard for me to allow other people in?” It’s because at some point in your life you never developed it. At some point in your life when you allow people to come in and guess what, sometimes the people that are supposed to teach you those things are the ones that take advantage of you and hurt you and now it also develops what we’ll talk about this in a second – it develops trust issues. So people that have trouble with intimate relationships have nothing to do with their current relationships they’re in, it has to do with unresolved relationships in their past, whether it’s platonic relationship, business, romance, all that kind of stuff unresolved. When there’s wounds and scars in the past and you don’t resolve them they’ll continue to show up in today’s relationships.

 

So the next one says, do you attract compulsive and abusive relationships? Or seek people who tend to be compulsive and abusive? I talked about this one in the morning and so many program participants identified with this one. It’s kind of like you get in a new relationship with someone and it happens to be a different name and a different person but all of the same characteristics and features are the same as the previous relationships. Why? So many other hands went up when I said, “Do you attract or seek people who are compulsive or abusive?” All the hands go up and I ask them, “Okay, this is really odd if you think about it, my friends, because we have 350 million people in America, 8 billion people in the world. If you keep getting in the same relationship with the same type of relationship with just a different person then maybe it has less to do with the person and more to do with yourself and how and why you keep attracting the same person into your life?” When they start thinking about that a little bit they start to realize that, “Hey, what about my past, what about my upbringing, what impact has it had on me that now I need that other piece to be able to feel whole and complete?” And they don’t want to be in these abusive relationships, by the way. People that are in abusive relationships it’s not like they say, “Hey, I can’t wait to get another one,” but unresolved issues attract it back into the world. It’s like two magnets and the other person by the way has their own stuff too. Anybody that’s abusive continues to be that same person in every relationship they show up in.  And so that’s a huge one. Abusive relationships, by the way, don’t always have to be physical abuse. If your loved one, if your child continues to abuse you and take advantage of you and manipulate you and psychologically destroy you, that’s an abusive relationship. And if you’re wondering why this keeps happening to me it’s not just love my friends, not just because I love my kid, love’s not supposed to hurt like that. It has to do with your own unresolved issues from your past. 

 

Do you cling to relationships because you are afraid of being alone? Now, this is another one – being afraid of being alone. Boredom is defined as the inability to sit with oneself, the inability to be alone with oneself. And why should someone be unable to sit with themselves? Why should someone be unable to to just be? Because at some point in their life when they were alone they were afraid, they were uncomfortable, they were scared and they went on this lifelong pursuit to do whatever they can do, however they can do it, to not be alone. So as I told you guys, I coach high school basketball – this is like an age demographic of like 15 to 18. And when we’re not obviously playing these kids are all on their phones. I know you see this all the time and I’m not trying to give you a cliche but they’re all on their phones and so they’re text messaging but they’re also on multiple different apps, like they’re TikTok, Facebook, Snapchat, and they’re also messaging and they’re direct messaging each other and they’re communicating and talking. So they’re constantly connected to people because they don’t want to be alone. I’ll tell you that if we’re ever going to a game we’re traveling on the bus (doing this soon) and we take away their phones they all get uncomfortable. It’s a very abnormal state for them to be in because the cell phone is the new smoking. Okay, I want you guys to hear this. Whenever I see a person with their cell phone in their hand I just visualize someone that’s smoking. So have you ever been in a line anywhere, have you ever been to a restaurant, have you ever been to the airport, have you ever been to watching people drive on the roads prior to like the early 90s or 80s and 70s, stuff like that? You know what people would do? They would smoke in all those places – every one of those places – people would smoke as soon as they were uncomfortable for a second. They would smoke sitting in a car by themselves, they would smoke. One of them is because it’s so damn addicting. Number two, it’s because it was just a pacifier – smoking was like a pacifier, like a baby pacifier, that’s what smoking was. And then they said all these studies came out about smoking, it’s bad for your lungs, it’s bad for your health, it causes obstruction of the veins, it could lead to stroke and heart attack. People said, “Okay, well we can’t do this one that much,” so now with the cell phone they say scrolling up and down on your phone is the new smoking. Just watch people in social settings – their cell phones are out and they’re doing the same thing. If you watch them in airports, you watch them in their cars, you know in their cars people are just going, you watch them in restaurants people are just going and scrolling – it’s the new smoking. Because when you scroll up and down there’s also dopamine – really, it’s highly addicting. I mean people always joke around with these apps. I don’t have TikTok but there’s like all these jokes about how when you go on TikTok it’s like daytime and it’s nighttime and you’re still scrolling up and down. You guys really think the only reason that’s happening is because there’s entertaining content on it? No, the brain – neural chemicals of the brain – are involved in this thing that produces dopamine. It produces addiction, hence people do it for longer periods than they actually wanted to do it. Instagram has the same concept to it – all these endless scrolls that are happening – all they’re doing is fighting for human attention. They’re fighting for your attention. They’re getting your receptors hooked in, addicted to this stuff, so people that cling to relationships (going back to the topic) are afraid of being alone. There are so many people that just tolerate and put up with relationships or they can’t be single because they just can’t be with themselves and the only reason they can’t be with themselves right now is because at some point in their life they couldn’t be with themselves because they were scared, they were terrified, they were afraid, usually their childhood has nothing to do with right now but it’s unresolved issues that show up in life later on.

 

The next one says, do you mistrust? Trust issues. Your own feelings and the feelings expressed by others. So pretty much a short way of saying that is, do you have trust issues as an adult? And if the answer is yes I’ll tell you where the roots of this comes from. So if you’re coming up in a family dysfunction home were you able to trust the environment? Were you able to trust what’s happening when you come home from school? Were you able to trust when mom and dad said I’ll be there on the weekend, I’ll be there for the holiday, I’ll be there for your game and they didn’t show up? Were you able to trust the fact that let’s just say dad was drinking or mom was drinking and they got sober for a little bit and then they come home, one of them is drunk, the other one’s threatening to leave? Instability. Were you able to trust the things they told you, we’ll always be there for you, you know all that kind of stuff? And later on in life do you have trust issues as a result of that stuff? And can you trust yourself? By the way, how many times have you said I’m going to do something and then you didn’t do it? How many times did you say I’m going to start something and you didn’t start it? See, we do to ourselves what other people did to us – that’s the whole mystery of life. We do to ourselves what other people did to us. When other people hurt us later on in life we hurt ourselves and if you don’t resolve it, my friends, you will hurt someone else down the line exactly the same way you were hurt, exactly the same way you were hurt. Even if it was the most painful thing that ever happened to you, you’re gonna do it to someone when it’s unchecked, when it’s untreated, when it’s unregulated.

 

And the next one (there’s only two more here) that I have: Learned behavior. If you have any questions, by the way, about anything that I’m saying, yeah absolutely! Tony just said it is learned behavior, and the beauty of it is (and Tony knows this) anything that can be learned can be unlearned. And we can relearn something and maybe we’ve never learned it in our life, maybe nobody ever taught it to us in our life and that’s the thing about being human. We don’t just learn behavior when we’re children we can learn behavior later on in life. One of my favorite quotes, and I might completely butcher this thing they say, “The illiterate of the future is not someone that can’t read or write. The illiterate of the future is someone who can’t unlearn and relearn what they’ve learned in life.” What they’ve experienced in life has nothing to do with reading or writing. Can you unlearn what’s not serving you and can you relearn something that’s going to help you move forward? Here’s the thing: I’m not saying family dysfunction and childhood trauma is a death sentence. I’m not saying it screws you up for the rest of your life. For a lot of people family dysfunction and childhood trauma is the catalyst for who they are and allows them to transcend into somewhere that they would never have gotten to without it. You know, our pain becomes our greatest asset but there’s no value to any of that stuff if we don’t channel it and process it and use it for the positive. I mean, with family dysfunction and childhood trauma because one thing that I love to highlight is, when you read the autobiography of really successful people or musicians or athletes or entrepreneurs or you know those kind of people you’ll notice really quickly, their childhood wasn’t that good. They had a lot of dysfunction in their home but what they did with it, how they used it, how it served them, that’s where the beauty comes from. And there’s a lot of people that have family dysfunction, childhood trauma and they just repeat the same cycle over and over again because they didn’t do anything with it. And so again, a lot of the traumatic events I went through in life are the reasons why I am who I am and I’m totally cool with that, but at some point in my life when I was still drinking and when I was acting out and doing all that kind of stuff, that was my wound and that was my pain. It wasn’t helpful to me at that time. It didn’t serve a purpose to me at that time.

 

The next one says, do you find it difficult to identify and express your emotions? Identify and express emotions. So there’s two different things: identifying emotions is one thing, expressing them is another thing. Before you can express your emotions you have to understand and identify what you’re experiencing. A lot of people have a hard time expressing their emotions because they can’t identify what they have, they only identify with two feelings: pissed the hell off, or completely down. Like really really up here, really down here. There are thousands of emotions that happen in between, but when you can’t identify them when you don’t know what they are, how are you going to express them? See, the eyes can’t see what the mind doesn’t know. The eyes can’t see what the mind doesn’t know. So if you don’t know what it is you’re experiencing, how can you see it, how can you articulate it, how can you express it ? So that’s why, for example, counseling, therapy, group therapy and support groups are helpful because you get to talk and in that talking you start to identify, “Oh, that’s how I’m feeling,” or someone identifies something and says how they felt and you’re like, “Ding! That’s it right there, that’s exactly what it was for me.” And that helps for people that can’t identify their emotions. And then there’s expressing it. Expressing is a whole different thing. You’ve heard me say this before and I’ll say it again. When I speak words to you every word that I’m using is being selectively picked and chosen in a way to make it sound like I know what I’m talking about, to hopefully keep you engaged, to make it sound like this is a valuable talk. It’s going through the filter of my mind so every word that I’m saying right now is being filtered for you. However, the hand is directly connected to the heart. That’s why I can write things down on a piece of paper that I could never say to another person. It bypasses that filter of judgment. There are so many things you can write down on a piece of paper that you won’t just sit in front of me and tell me. So the first homework assignment for anyone that has a hard time identifying and expressing their emotions is to grab a piece of paper and pen and start writing and start writing and start writing and start writing. I don’t even care what you do with it – it’s called stream of consciousness writing – just write, write, write, write, write, write. You can take it and burn it in the backyard if you want, you can light it on fire, you can do whatever you want with it, you can tear it up and throw it in the trash can, but do something to be able to write because it gets it out, it creates the psychological and emotional muscles to be able to articulate it one day to somebody. Because we’re going to need to. This is huge, Eileen, I want you to know that this really is huge because she wrote, “It takes courage to delve into the roots of our behavior patterns.” She knows they’re patterns – that’s wonderful that you know that – and courage is – what the definition of courage is (and I know a lot of you know it but), it means the ability to take action despite of fear, despite of discomfort. So when someone says it’s a courageous act to dive into the roots because there’s fear in those roots. And why is there fear? Because when they developed originally in the onset then and there back then whatever that was for you they were covered in fear, because kids get afraid, people get afraid, and dysfunctional people get afraid in trauma. That’s why it takes courage, so absolutely, I hope that made sense – it made a lot of sense to me. 

 

Do you think your upbringing in family dysfunction and childhood trauma affected you? The last question – this one’s just very generic but it says, do you think that your upbringing in family dysfunction and childhood trauma may have affected you? I know that sounds like a very simple question but here’s why this is important. We know it affects us when we’re children. Everybody knows that you can’t look at a child – go look at a 12 year old and just say – if the family’s going crazy, if there’s abuse, psychological, emotional, physical, if there’s alcoholism, you know that kid’s getting impacted, you know it for a fact. You saw those kids are innocent, they’re vulnerable, their minds are impressionable, you know that kid’s getting impacted. But later on in life you just minimize it, you dumb it down, you just say, “you know what, yeah, it happens to everybody.” First of all, no, it doesn’t. Family dysfunction and childhood trauma, to this extent that I’m talking about, does not happen to everybody. It might happen to the people watching this or the program participants we have, but it’s not a universal experience. Second of all, later on, “you know that I was a kid when that happened, it’s different now, it’s over now.” No, it’s not. Unresolved issues, the roots lead to these behavior patterns that we have to this day. And I’m telling you this as a therapist, as an addiction specialist, as a counselor, if you don’t address the roots it will continue to grow. If you don’t address the underlying causes of this stuff when it happened, even if it happened when you were a child, it will continue to grow, it will continue to grow, and it will continue to show up, and it will continue to rear his ugly head, and manifest itself in your own life, in your own relationships, at work, with your children, with your neighbors, with your friends, with your peers. It’s not just something that happened when you were a child. It’s something that is happening to you right now, until you say, “You know what, I need to change the story, I need to change this narrative, I need to get what was good from that experience, and process the rest of it, because I don’t want to continue living this way.” If that’s the case there are programs for this. I’ll go with the free of charge programs – we talked about Al-anon last week, there’s another program that’s really wonderful, more on the emotional healing side of things, it’s called Adult Children of Alcoholics or Addicts. And it doesn’t always have to be drugs and alcohol, remember you can have a workaholic parent, you could have a parent that was a gambler, you could have a parent that was promiscuous, you could have a parent that just constantly left. If you had dysfunction in your home you’re an adult child right now. Why do they call them adult children? It’s because they’re adults but their emotional development has stagnated to when they were a child going through dysfunction. There’s a program called Adult Children of Alcoholics free of charge – support group, local communities, free literature – you just show up, you listen, you hear people, you identify and you get to those roots. And if that’s not enough because that’s just paraprofessionals and support group, get with a therapist, get with someone, get with a counselor, you can do so many different options right now, get on telehealth, do something to say, “Hey, I’m a grown adult right now but my childhood keeps sticking its head up in my life. I want to do something about it.” And by the way, all the unresolved stuff for those of you who are watching this, and you have loved ones and children and spouses going through addiction, it shows up in that relationship too. If you think your loved one getting clean and sober is going to take away your own childhood issues that is factually false – it’s not gonna happen – all that’s gonna happen is they’re gonna be sober and you’re still gonna be you – you’re still gonna be stuck with whatever it is that you’re stuck with. Your peace of mind is not contingent on their sobriety. They’ll get sober and you still won’t have peace of mind. You’ll have peace of mind that they’re sober but that’s about it, you know, that’s about it. 

 

So today was another heavy talk geared to the family members as human beings, because I do consider you as an independent entity than your loved one. I do believe that you’re unique and special for who you are. It’s so easy to get caught up in, “I want to go help my kid,” that you forget the most important person in the room is yourself, and helping yourself is always primary, number one. So thank you so much everyone for this talk. Yeah, you’re welcome guys, the last three – Eileen, Lynn and Dan, I’m glad this was excellent – I appreciate that word and I get prepared you guys know. And if there’s any topics by the way right now since I have some of you returners (if you will) – I call you guys my loyal returners – if there’s anything you want to hear about just write it in the side chats – I mean I read all those myself – so if there’s a specific topic, if there’s something that you want to hear about again, I do have a broad range of mental health topics, so it’s not just addictions, but if there’s anything you want just write the topic and I’ll go ahead and create a whole talk for you on that topic. And I would gladly do that, so love and appreciate you guys, have a wonderful weekend, I will see you back in the same place, same time next week. Thanks everyone!

Problems With Primary Support Group

Your primary support group is usually the family nucleus of your parents, grandparents, certain aunts and uncles, or siblings, and whoever was the primary support around you when you were growing up. 

The first ones are all related to your primary support group. When you’re listening to me right now you want to go back in your own journey of life to those who raised you and again, it could be mom, dad, it could just be mom, it could just be dad, it could be grandparents, it could be immediate family, it could be siblings, whatever it was – I need you to go back there and see if any of these life events occurred in your life and if they did how they impacted you. 

1. Death of a Family Member

The number one psychosocial stressor is possibly the death of a family member or a loved one. It is one of the most tragic and traumatic experiences to go through, especially when it is unexpected, or when it is as a result of illnesses that we were not ready for, or when it comes too soon in the journey of life. The death of a family member, health problems in the family such as parents or siblings can add fear and stress to a child’s mind when they notice that their parents’ focus is elsewhere or if they worry that they would not be taken care of. 

2. Disruption of Family

This is a common stressor that we often see in the field of mental health and addictions. Although there is nothing inherently wrong with a family going through a separation, divorce or estrangement, despite the reasons why it happened, the child is left feeling a certain way, especially if they are around the ages of 9 to 14 years old. That is the age when the child starts to individualize and recognize that they are a person separate from their family. If you have noticed when kids start listening to their own music or start dressing differently, or acting differently, it is because their brain is developing in a certain way. They may think that everything that happens around them is a direct result of them, and they think that everybody is always paying attention to them at all times. This thought process is what goes into children of divorces and separations and estrangements. 

3. Physical Abuse, Neglect, Sexual Abuse

The roots of this type of psychosocial stressor are deep because it starts to impact the self-worth of a human. In most cases, one or both of the parents themselves may have experienced abuse or saw abuse in their households. Without any type of intervention, or work on self, cycles tend to repeat themselves. 

4. Parental overprotection

Parents wanting to shield their children at all costs with control and codependency and not allowing them to individualize can have an impact on children as they grow older. Many parents tend to overprotect their children, especially when there is mental illness or addiction involved, however overprotection cripples them. It takes away the individual’s dignity to be able to solve their own problems in life. 

5. Inadequate Discipline

When there is a family discord and it turns into divorce, the child may start acting out, which causes one or both of the family members to have guilt because they think that their separation impacts their child. Due to their feelings of guilt and shame, their parents may not even discipline them. They go from being the parent to being the friend. 

6. Discord with Siblings

Sibling dynamics can be a very nuanced situation. Sometimes there may even be psychological, emotional, physical, or sexual abuse involved. It also impacts the children’s individual relationships with their parents as each new child comes into a family so that it changes their dynamic within the system. Although these events may not be inherently traumatic and bad, each individual in the family gets affected differently based on these life events.

Besides problems with your primary support group, there are several other psychosocial stressors that can contribute to the development or the aggravation of mental health issues, potentially addictions and other maladaptive behaviors. Learn more about the top 10 psychosocial stressors and their impact on mental health.

Understanding Psycho-social Stressors

What is up everyone, good morning, good morning or afternoon, depending on where you’re watching this from. It is Saturday, March 25th of 2023, the first quarter of the year is almost done, we’ve officially gone into the month of the season of spring which is a time of renewal and rebirth. Whatever happened in the winter time, let’s kind of put it aside and let’s see what we can do moving forward right now and kind of embrace what’s happening around us with nature and see if we can take some of that in and be able to use some of that for ourselves in our lives. Good morning to everyone who’s about to come on here and participate in another family education and support group. My name is Parham, I am the weekly host of this show and we do this each and every single Saturday at 10 A.M Pacific Standard Time. It lasts somewhere between, let’s just call it 45 minutes to be safe, and we do different topics here. 

 

So for example, today we’re talking about psychosocial stressors which is something that’s really important and valuable for people to understand – what they are, the impact that they can have on the mind, body, soul, the spirit of the individual who experiences them and most importantly to give the message of hope that if you’ve experienced some or all, or a combination of them, that it’s not a death sentence. It doesn’t mean that for the rest of your life you are a victim of that experience and actually in my opinion, by walking through those and healing through those experiences and coming to the other side, not only are we able to heal and transform and recover but we are also able to overcome a little bit of adversity and gain a little bit of resiliency and come out the other side stronger, yes stronger than we did prior to experiencing them. 

 

So like I said my name is Parham, I have a master’s degree in marriage and family therapy, I’m a licensed advanced alcohol and drug counselor, I’m on staff at a local community college but yet to be assigned a class that I could teach but I am hired I do call myself a college professor. I’m also a high school basketball coach – something that I love doing and the best part of it all is I’ve been doing all of this in my own personal recovery. June 13th of 2008 is the day that my life went from one path to another and thankfully for myself and for those around me, I was able to stay on that path until this moment talking to you right now. And my intention is that my personal experience, my professional experience, my knowledge can create the platform to be able to provide some content that’s relevant, applicable to you in your life and your journey, and hopefully help you go from where you are to where you want to be. Another thing too for the locals (we are in Orange County, California for any of the locals watching this), starting April 11th which is a Tuesday, at 6:30 at night – 6:30 to 7:30 or 6:30 to 8 – I will be personally facilitating a weekly support group at Buckeye Recovery Network which is located in Huntington Beach, California. It’s free, there is no sales pitch, there is no gimmick. If you or your loved ones or people  are struggling with dealing with the consequences of the addiction of a loved one or the mental health of a loved one and you just need some support you just need to go somewhere and be able to sit and talk and process with other people that are probably going through the same experience, and with myself facilitating the group. You are all welcome, and if you’re not from around here you’re welcome to come. 

 

Let me just say hi to some people here Couto, what is up? Mr Jim, what is up? Bita, thank you for coming back. Mom and Dad, proud supporters from day one. Katalin, love and appreciate you. Well saying what is up from the Bay Area and Ellen what’s up? Yeah, it’s great to be here in California instead of Connecticut. Thank you for all you do – we’ve been on a journey for a long time together.

 

So today I’m going to talk about something that’s in the field or with people doing assessments known as psychosocial stressors. What are psychosocial stressors, you might wonder – that’s a good question. Well, psychosocial stressors are things that happen to us in the course of life that create an intense level of stress. That stress can contribute to things like the development or the aggravation of mental health issues, potentially addictions and other maladaptive behaviors. There are things that happen to us as a result of that event – we start to experience internal stress and the more stressed out people are, the more they act out in addictive behavior that stress goes into the body, it goes into the mind and it has an impact. There’s someone that talks about trauma, that trauma isn’t really what happens to you my friends – trauma is what happens inside of your body as a result of a traumatic event. today we’re going to talk about all that stuff.

 

Whoever else is coming? Marina Harbor, MJ, welcome, welcome, you’re always welcome to come back here.

 

Let’s just get into them and talk about these. It’s a heavier talk but it’s really valuable and I do want you to know – take this in consideration that as I’m talking about these and  yourself have been impacted from them or maybe the person that you’re watching this for – a loved one of you – has been impacted by them, I want to preempt, right before I deliver the message, I want to relieve you of any type of guilt, any type of negative feelings you might have about how you handled the situation while you were going through it because check this out – man, hindsight is 20/20. We can always look back and say, “”Man, I dropped the ball there. I wish I could have done it differently. I should have done it differently,” but what does that do? Nothing. It puts you in a disempowered state and in that disempowered state you are unable to act logically, act free of emotion, enact with empowerment to the point that you’re trying to change these patterns.

 

The first one is problems with your primary support group. And who is your primary support group? For many people it’s usually the nucleus: the mom and dad, or it could be grandparents, or certain aunts and uncles, or siblings – it’s whoever was the primary support around you when you were growing up. What are some of these problems with the primary support group? Well, there are a few of them here that I named off – and I want you to hear it. By the way, when we do assessments for someone coming in for mental health treatment or for addiction treatment all of these psychosocial stressors that I’m talking about – they all get addressed they all get evaluated one by one, because the more somebody’s experienced these the higher the probability that the same person is going to have some challenges with their mental health. That person is going to have some challenges with their behaviors, that they’re doing the overt and covert ones. The first ones are all related to your primary support group. When you’re listening to me right now you want to go back in your own journey of life to those who raised you and again, it could be mom, dad, it could just be mom, it could just be dad, it could be grandparents, it could be immediate family, it could be siblings, whatever it was – I need you to go back there and see if any of these life events occurred in your life and if they did how they impacted you. 

 

Number one is the death of a family member – I mean, we all know this. It’s one of the most tragic things to go through. It’s very traumatic, especially when it’s unexpected, especially when it’s as a result of illnesses that we were not ready for, especially when it came too soon in the journey of life. The death of a family member, health problems in the family, and what I mean by this is like, let’s say you’re a child growing up in a family and your older sibling or your younger sibling is going through some health challenges – well, at that moment what happens? Mom, dad, whoever it is, they have to put all of their focus on that situation because that situation is stressful and when that focus goes there, where is the focus? Not on the individual that’s not sick, that’s not going through the family crisis, that’s not going through the challenges of what’s going to happen next and a lot of people in that moment feel certain ways. Or if you are a child and your mom or dad is sick they’re experiencing some physical sickness – the doctors have told them that they have certain conditions – that kind of stuff puts fear in the child, in the mind and in the body of a child, because they think, “What if something happens to my family member? What if they’re not around to take care of me? Who’s going to take care of me?”

 

The next one here is disruption of family by separation or divorce or estrangement. We see this often in the field of mental health and addictions. Again, we all know the statistics – if this is something that happened to you in your life there’s nothing inherently wrong with it – there’s nothing bad with it – but despite the reasons why that happened the child is left feeling a certain way. I’ll tell you guys this: based on research and data of children that are around the ages of 9 to 14 years old, and why is that age important? Because that’s the age that the child starts to individualize a little bit – the child starts to think that they are a person separate from their family. Have you ever noticed when kids start listening to their own music or they start dressing or dressing up in a different way or they start kind of acting differently? It’s not because they’re just children being children – the brain’s developing in a certain way and one of the components of that is when someone’s in that age demographic – 9 to 14 – they believe that they are actually the center of the universe. What I mean by that is they think that everything that happens around them is a direct result of them, and they think that everybody is always paying attention to them at all times. Have you ever seen an adolescent that’s 14 years old with a zit on their face? They say, “Mom, Dad, I can’t go to school today,” and they’re like, “Why?” “I got this zit on my face. Everyone’s going to be looking at me.” That same philosophy, if you can understand that, goes into these children of divorces and separations and estrangements. If you sit down and do a survey of these children and ask them, “Hey, what’s going on?”  what they all say? Or at least they think that “What’s happening with Mom and Dad is my fault. I am not lovable. I did something wrong that’s causing this now.” We all know as adults that’s not even related to the whole picture but the child doesn’t understand that.

 

The next one with primary support group is any type of physical abuse, any type of neglect, sexual abuse – that one goes deep – the roots of that one are deep because it starts to impact the self-worth of a human. Now I understand oftentimes, let’s just say there’s physical abuse involved and let’s just say the mother or the father is abusing their child. I’m not a betting person but I can bet with high confidence that at some point that parent either experienced abuse themselves or saw abuse in their household. Am I condoning that or giving that the pass? Heck, no. But I do know that without any type of intervention, without any type of work on self, cycles tend to repeat themselves. There’s a lot of parents that have been known for abusing their child that when they’re doing it they break down and cry because they said, “This is what my mom or dad did to me and I promise I’ll never do it to my child, and why am I doing it to my child?” It’s because cycles repeat themselves unless the person says, “I will break this cycle.” 

 

If there’s any type of parental overprotection – parents wanting to shield their children at all costs with control and codependency and not allowing them to individualize – that has an impact on people. I always say if that’s what you do (and I know a lot of you parents do), especially when there’s mental illness involved and there’s addiction involved, you want to go into parent mode and protect them and make sure that they’re safe from life. But here’s the thing: overprotection cripples people. Over protection takes away the individual’s dignity to be able to solve their own problems in life. I always joke around saying my Mom and Dad, man they did a really good job with a lot of different things. They had a challenging time because when they were raising me they were also going through a revolution in their country. They were going through war in their country – I don’t care who you are, man, trying to raise your kid when you’re going through all that – it’s a challenging time – they did a really good job. And when we came into the United States they understood the importance of financial responsibility, making sure that everything goes well, for example with creditors, you can be able to build this thing called a credit score. what they did – they just handled it all – they’re probably watching this laughing right now. If I ran up a bill they would go and fix it because they wanted to make sure that my credit score wasn’t affected. If I spent some money somewhere and it was going to put me in some type of jeopardy they would go fix it real quick. Or if I needed something they would give it to me real quick – they did it out of pure love and protection – to help set me up for the future. But what did that do? When I was 18-19-20 years old, 22 years old, 23 years old, it prevented me from ever learning how to do it. Now I know that sounds like, “Well hey, you should have learned it on your own.” We don’t learn anything unless we have to do it. I mean, if I could sit back and relax right now and have my parents pay for all my stuff I’d do it. But at some point they got to say, “Hey, we can’t do this anymore,” and when all of a sudden that option gets taken away, what’s left? I gotta figure it out on my own. And yes, I struggled with that stuff my first four or five years of sobriety – I mean, I didn’t even know what to do with the debt I was accumulating but eventually I figured it out when the rescuer wasn’t there anymore.

 

The next one is inadequate discipline. Inadequate discipline as a result of guilt and shame. I’ve seen this oftentimes when there’s a family discord and it turns into divorce and then the kid starts acting out, one or both of the family members have so much guilt because they think that because of that separation it impacts this person so much and you know what they do? They don’t even discipline them – they go from being the parent to being the friend. They go from being the parent that’s supposed to let them know like, “Hey, these actions have consequences,” to saying, “Oh, it’s okay,” even though they know it’s not okay. Their guilt doesn’t allow them to do it. And also discord with siblings. Sibling dynamics is a very interesting thing – sometimes there’s abuse involved – psychological, emotional, physical, sexual, all that kind of stuff – but just the little things, for example when you are the only child of the family, you have a certain relationship with mom and dad. And when the second sibling comes it’s the first time that child also becomes an older sibling and now there’s a newer younger sibling that has a relationship with mom and dad. And guess what, when the third child comes the younger child becomes this thing called the middle child and it changes their dynamic within the system. Am I saying these things inherently on their own are traumatic and bad? No, this is a part of life. But I want you to know this – that each individual in the family gets affected differently based on these life events. You can have two siblings and someone passes away in the family – one of them handles it okay and the other one completely rattles. Why is that the case? That’s the individuality of human beings. Parents sometimes say (which I want to correct this, by the way right now while you guys are paying attention), “I don’t know what happened. We raised our kids the same way. We’re the same people.” I want you to hear this: No you are not. No human being, including myself, is the same person 5-10-15 years in a row because we experience other things in life that change us. Even though the biological name of the mom and dad and the last name in the family system was all the same I would say that those parents are different parents when they’re raising different children. 

 

The best example I have for you guys is a family that I worked with. In the early 2000s up until 2008 they were in a high socioeconomic status. Their eldest child went through all these different schoolings and this and that, and they were living the American dream. When the financial crisis happened in 2008 they went from this big mega home into a small home. One kid got pulled out of private school, the other kid never went into private school, whatever it was. And they said, “We don’t know what happened – we’re the same people.” True, but guess what, despite being the same people you’ve experienced different challenges in your life. When you go through a financial crisis don’t tell me you weren’t stressed. When you look at all your assets and they’re like one-fourth of the size don’t tell me you’re not impacted differently. When you get laid off on a job you’re not the same parent that’s thriving in a career. Each child has their own perception of mom and dad and they’re not the same. Sometimes I’ve even worked with people that say, “My mom and dad were the greatest ever,” and I talked to the sibling they say, “My mom and dad were never there.” Same mom and dad, different perceptions of the relationship.

 

The next one that’s all related to a primary support group, many of you, including your loved ones, have been impacted as a result of: problems related to social environment. Now, this could be a loss of an identity adjustment to life cycle such as retirement. We’re not even talking about childhood here that some people go through – they create an identity of who they are for many many many years and when they stop doing that all of a sudden they’re like, “Who am I?” because they identified with what they were doing, not who they were. This happens to athletes all the time – 35 year old male or female athletes that were professionals from 22 years old to 35 – stop playing sports. They have no idea who they are. They go through some serious bouts of depression to overcome the void that’s existing in their life, like, “What’s my purpose in this world?”

 

The next one is any time with friend circles. For some people their friends are their extended family and it’s a social circle and it’s where they get their connections, where they get their belonging, and when those things change it impacts people. The best place you could see this is  – I said I coach high school basketball – I watch these kids from 14-15-16-17-18 years old. They create these bonds that their friends are their world and all of a sudden in senior year all of these kids go to different places and there are the ones that are left behind. A lot of my friends went off to college, I stayed at the local community college and you’re just like, “Where is my world?” It’s a significant loss – it’s a toll on the individuals.

 

Difficulty with assimilating into a different culture: now, for any of the immigrants watching this or second generation immigrants watching this, when your parents are from a different country, born in a different country and now they’re living in the United States, I mean just imagine how challenging that is because you’ve been raised a certain way, to believe certain things and see the world a certain way, and you come here and all of those beliefs are not rooted in what’s happening around you. And what do they do in those moments? This is very famous for immigrants – they try to hold on to the old and somehow infuse it into the new and it never works. The kids in that situation are feeling lost and torn. I always joke around with my mom or dad – if they ever pick us up, pick me or my brother up when we were living in the States before we went back to Iran and they were playing Persian music, oh my God, we would get embarrassed.  I’m like, “Put up the windows. Turn down the music. I don’t want anyone to hear this stuff.” It’s silly but those things have an impact. And by the way, for those of you because America is one of those countries that because it’s like a melting pot and many different people from many parts of the world all live here, for the most part pretty damn peacefully, what happens is going from state to state has the same impact like if you were born in the South and raised in the South and now you’re in California, I mean you could pretty much say you’re in a different country  and vice versa, if you’re in California and you go to the South and you go there and it’s like Whoa. Sometimes kids go from state to state when they’re growing up and whole new social groups and all of a sudden they look different than their peers, they dress differently than their peers and that’s tough. By the way Jim just pointed out something here that’s really important: the drug culture is a culture – the music people listen to, the things people do, even the time of day you’re awake and operating is different, the lingo, the hustle, the get by, it’s just completely different. And sometimes people cannot let go of that. They have a hard time going from the drug culture which is “get high, get by,” survive at all costs. Trying to be an upstanding citizen, trying to be a worker amongst workers, trying to be someone that’s contributing to society – it’s a hard thing to do. It’s like going from a war zone into a peaceful place. And guess what, sometimes people can’t handle the peace. There’s been many clients, my friends, that have told people like me and Jim, “Hey, when I get sober I don’t know what to do in my body. I don’t know what to do around regular people,” because they’re integrated in that drug culture. Does that mean it’s a death sentence and you’re in it forever? No, it just takes some time to thaw. I like to use the word thaw because imagine someone being completely frozen and you put them in a new environment, and the environment’s just not that warm and comforting. As long as the temperature is right, eventually the ice starts to melt a little bit, and the person’s able to show up. Good observation there, Jim! Of course with social environments you have to talk about discrimination too – it’s something that I believe that it could happen to anyone, whether you are White, Black, Asian American, Middle Eastern, believe it or not, discrimination always goes on. But discrimination in general, and by the way gender discrimination in general, is something that could impact people, and there are ways to get empowered and work through that. But guess where that starts? That starts from the home, a long time before discrimination happened, to have the individual believe that they are worth something, that they’re valuable, that those things don’t mean anything as long as they’re solid in who they are as an individual. But guess what? When you’re dealing with problems with a primary support group, people are passing away, people are separating and divorcing, there’s abuse in the house, that individual is like a raw nerve for discrimination. When that person gets discriminated against they don’t have the psychological and emotional muscles to be able to say, “What I got is discrimination” – it impacts them negatively. 

 

Then we got educational problems. And by the way, I’m talking a lot because I’m trying to do a psycho education – I’m trying to teach – but if you have any questions that’s related to what I’m saying feel free to write them. Like I put up Jim’s comment, I’m able to put them up on the board and I’ll answer you in real time, if that’s what you’re looking to do. The next one is education – educational problems. This could be learning disabilities, if you’re growing up and you have learning disabilities in school, what do they do with you? Well, the majority of teachers unfortunately don’t have the ability or the resources to be able to give that person the love, the care, the individualized treatment they need. Now, they might pull the person out and put them in something called the individual learning plan but sometimes the way that’s rolled out actually does more harm than good. And here’s what I mean by that and I’m an educator. Because if you pull a kid from where all of his or her peers and friends are in group out of a class and say, “You’re going to this little special class over here” – I understand the theory behind it is like we’re trying to help this person but to that kid it’s like, “I’m not as good as them. I’m stupid. I’m not normal,” all that kind of stuff. Learning disabilities take a toll on people. I’ve worked with some people that have overcome stuttering in their life and when they were younger what they shared with me about their experience is something that’s just sad and unfair to be honest with you, but that’s what they experience in life. They didn’t let it define them but it took a toll on them, leading to things like depression and anxiety and all that kind of stuff. Moving from school to school causes significant social anxiety and some parents – they had to do what they had to do – if you got a job or jobs frequently that required you to uproot your family and to move if you’re like our family had to deal with revolutions and going back and forth and all that kind of stuff from countries, if you were a military family, how about that? Military kids are taught that their parent is doing an honorable thing, is a part of something greater than themselves, but call it what it is – when the kid’s going to 15 different schools in 18 years it potentially could take a toll on somebody because it brings up social anxiety. It’s nothing worse than being the kid that is two or three weeks into school, the teacher brings you, holds your hand and brings you to the front of the classroom and says, “Hey everyone, this is so-and-so and they just moved here from wherever,” and the kid – their voice is shaking – introducing themselves to everybody. And if that happens once that’s cool but if it happens continuously over the course of someone’s life that has an impact on someone because they also start to think and believe that they can’t make friends, if they make friends they’re not going to be able to keep them, because they’re about to move again and they feel out of place, they feel like they don’t belong. When I’m saying these things with this much conviction it’s not my opinion, my friends. As a clinician, we sit down and we do these things called biocycle social assessments. Jim probably did like 10 of them in the past two weeks – these are things that come up. I’ve heard this thousands of times and  parents say, “Well, everybody moves, everybody moves, it’s okay, my other kid didn’t get impacted, how come this guy’s impacted by it?” I don’t know. You’ve heard me say this analogy before in life – if you have two identical plates, like imagine two white plates from Ikea, the exact same plate from the exact same batch – if I hold them up at let’s say six feet in the air and I drop them down on the ground, what happens to those plates? They shatter. And when you look at those plates that just shattered they’re gonna have completely different break patterns. Now you can sit there and tell yourself, “Well, I don’t know why that one broke that way and that one broke that way – I dropped them from the same distance.” Because you don’t know how it impacts them. Humans are the same way – two people can go through the same life experience and have completely different break patterns. One might not even break – why is that the case? I don’t know.

 

Let’s see what Eileen said here: “It also seems to be important to factor in how we come into the world.” Absolutely! Some people are blessed with more natural resilience, some just are not. There is individuality with people. I’m the first to admit it, Eileen, that not everything in life is one plus one equals two. We are unique, the same way I always bring up the thumbprint analogy – we all have different ones but just to play a little devil’s advocate there, when you look in that it’s like I believe that not just coming into the world, the nine months prior to coming into the world, however that mom in that home environment, in that social environment was, and the amount of stress she had or didn’t have, or what she was exposed to or didn’t get exposed to – I do believe that also has a factor in the amount of resiliency someone can have. Because there’s data and studies out there that show that the more stressed out a mom is during pregnancy the more hormones, like the adrenal glands and the cortis… how about this Eileen? You might have heard me say this before – if a mom’s really stressed out during pregnancy there are certain hormones that it takes from the mom, the stress hormones, when a child is born. Sometimes, those children that are born with asthma need medications, the medications that those children need are the same medications or the same hormones that would have existed inside the mom if she wasn’t stressed out and depleted the child is born in a depleted state, and therefore needs external medication to provide adequate support for what the mom wasn’t able to get. I agree with you wholeheartedly but I do believe that before we come into this world, the nine months prior to it, also has an impact on how we engage with this world. Hope that made sense.

 

Now we go into occupational problems. This kind of happens a lot of times later on in life – threat of a job loss – super scary. It’s something because it rocks your whole world. Losing a job, getting unemployed, stressful work schedules. One thing I try to have program participants avoid when and if possible is working too many hours that are just outside the norm. I mean, they call it graveyard shifts and I know some people that are healthy, recovered and they work,  they just accept that that’s their life and that’s what they do and more power to them. But a graveyard is where people go to die – I mean if you can avoid it, especially in early recovery, if you can avoid graveyard shifts please do. But later on in life if you’re a nurse, if you’re a physician, if you’re someone that works with machinery, and that’s the only time that you have to go work and you can provide for your family and you’re able to balance that work life, I mean that’s a different person than the person that’s just healing from serious depression or had some serious substance abuse issues. Job change can be impactful because there’s a whole new office politics and culture you have to adjust to and a discord with your boss or co-workers – these things impact people. People come home and say, “My boss kept putting me down or my co-worker kept doing this behind my back or this and that.” My best suggestion is that if you notice something that’s been happening to your life for a long period of time, I can’t tell you what to do or not to do because that’s your life and you have certain responsibilities. But ask yourself the question, “Why do I put up with it?” And if the answer you get back from that suffices as a reason and justifies for you to stay there, do it. But life is short, my friends. If you go to a place called work and you come home everyday and if you’re just upset, frustrated, pissed off about the experience at some point it’s safe to say, explore that.

 

Housing problems are another psychosocial stressor. Housing problems could be homelessness – I have a lot of people that come in that are homeless on the streets that do have mental health issues, my friends. I promise you, they’re not just lazy people, they just don’t want to work, maybe they don’t want to work but they also don’t want to be homeless. And the mental illness component of it is serious. The amount of trauma people experience on the streets is something that I would need an entire talk to be able to talk about the amount of discrimination that happens, the amount of abuse that happens. You want to know why a lot of homeless people use methamphetamines? Because they don’t want to fall asleep at night. Do you want to know why? Because if they fall asleep at night they can get assaulted sexually, they can get beat up, they can get robbed, it’s just a lot of bad things happen and they stay in this hypervigilant state and they’re zombies at night because they don’t want to fall asleep. We have inadequate housing which is just not enough housing. It’s like those families that have seven, eight, ten people living in a one or two bedroom apartment that makes it challenging to be able to feel safe in the world – it really does. You don’t have your private space, you don’t have your ability to kind of unwind. And we have unsafe neighborhoods – this is something that comes up a lot in psychosocial stressors when we’re doing them. It’s people that were raised in places that they just were scared to walk home. How powerful that is, to be scared to walk home after school? How sad that is at the same time. Discord with neighbors – that’s another thing – if your whole life you’re just kind of butting head to head the impact that could possibly have on the family system is high up there. 

 

The next one – there’s eight of these by the way – I think we’re on number four – economic problems. This is extreme poverty. People watching this talk probably aren’t experiencing that because you’re on the internet watching me talk on a Saturday. You might be struggling financially but extreme poverty is talking about when you don’t have food on the table, you don’t have the electricity in your house, you definitely don’t have Wi-Fi to watch this thing talk. And unfortunately, the poverty in this country, in a lot of parts of the world, is on the incline because the separation between the top and the bottom is starting to significantly increase. A lot of people that are in early recovery – their families are wiped out, maybe they have enough to be able to put food on their own tables but they can’t feed another person that’s an adult. And now that person that at one point in life was supported by this family is now in extreme poverty on their own. Thankfully, community colleges support those kinds of people – you can go to school for free, at least in California. And you can get health care – it’s Medi-Cal – it doesn’t really help out here in California with certain things but you can see doctors and get medications and all that kind of stuff. And there are food cards available – it’s not enough for a family, that’s for sure, but it’s enough to hopefully help somebody get through another day.

 

And the next one down here is the problems with access to health care. I always tell the program participants at a place like Buckeye Recovery Network: Please understand how lucky you are that you have health insurance that allows you to access our services, or you have family members that have financial means that help you access our services, or we were able to provide a scholarship to you that allows you to provide our service to access our services. Outside of that people that don’t have adequate health care service access, where they end up is places that have waiting lists of three months, places that you can’t see who you need to see, places that you can’t have a bed to sleep on, places that don’t have the ability to treat your underlying mental illness and your traumas. And guess what, when that’s not available because it’s frustrating to be needing a bed and not being able to get it, they end up in the streets. 

 

The next one that we have here is problems related to interaction with the legal system. Maybe some of your loved ones have experienced that. I know a lot of our program participants at times have, whether that’s things like getting a DUI, whether it’s getting a drug possession, whether it’s like theft, assault, domestic violence, whatever that stuff is. Once you get into the legal system, and by the way it’s not just the individual, maybe your parents growing up got into the legal system – what does that do to the family system? Well, it creates a lot of fear and it creates a lot of frustration because there’s some significant financial component to it. If you could pay off what you can pay off to avoid going to jail that’s going to take a toll. If you can’t pay it off and you have to go to jail, that’s going to take a toll. Here’s the thing – when you come out of these systems, when you come out of jail, when you come out of incarceration, it’s an uphill battle. Now, I know a lot of people that haven’t experienced that stuff can sit there and judge and say, “Hey, well, you should learn the consequences of your actions and now go make it right.”  How many human beings that are doing good in life are trying to do good in life, try to go and make it right now and because of their past records in history they’re not given a fair chance. What they did when they’re 18-19-22-24 years old, 25 years old, 30 years old, is impacting them in their 30s and 40s. How many of us make mistakes when we’re younger? Maybe we were fortunate enough to not get arrested for them but we’re no different than the 19 year old that did. I always say people are quick to judge individuals that are locked up behind bars but I’ve talked and I’ve spoken to many of them. I’ve even been in jails and talked to human beings inside there – they’re no different than most people. You look at these tough guys and these tough girls and you’re kind of thinking that’s where they belong and then you rewind the tape back 20 years in their life. Many of them were born in these broken homes and broken families and guess what, broken societies and broken communities. Because it’s not just their home that’s broken – it’s every home around them that’s also broken. It’s not just their dad that’s in prison, it’s every dad and uncle and cousin around them that’s in prison. What do you expect happens to that person? Do you really expect that kid to go to school every day, listen to the teacher like this, go home, do their homework like this, turn in their paper, go to sleep at nine o’clock, wake up in the morning, have a bowl of oatmeal and then go to class and say, “Here’s my homework,” and participate? What they do – they come home and it’s loud and it’s chaotic and they don’t know what to do. They go on the streets, there’s a bunch of other kids out there just like them, that look like them, that talk like them, that walk like them, that their dads and uncles and moms and whatever they’re all incarcerated, to which one you think they’re gonna pick? We’re quick to judge these communities and these people and by the way, it’s not just the Hispanics and the Blacks – there’s certain parts of really poor parts of Kentucky you can go to right now that’s just straight – everyone’s White – and they’re going through the same problem because of drugs, addiction, all that kind of stuff that’s ravaging through these communities in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, whatever you want to call it – it doesn’t discriminate, my friends. But it’s serious that arrest and incarceration impacts communities.

 

And the last ones that I have here – these are kind of like the others – they’re not the main ones that I talked about. But it could be exposure to disasters if you were growing up, like when things like Katrina happened, or these earthquakes that happen across the world over there, or these things like wars, or intense events happen all of a sudden – you don’t have the same life experience. Those things cause trauma – there are traumatic events that cause trauma inside the body that lead to things like depression, anxiety, substance use. 

 

I guess the whole purpose of this talk today was to be able to help identify what psychosocial stressors are. And again, they are life events that happen that cause a significant amount of stress and distress to the individual. And that stress leads to mental health issues, it leads to potentially addictions, it leads to maladaptive behaviors. My takeaway from this talk is going to be this for you guys. If you have experienced some of those, first of all I want to say that you are a resilient human being, because you’re still here watching me talk. If you experience any of those it shows that you understand that despite what’s happened to you in your life, in your story, that there’s another way forward. Now, sometimes those events are painful, years go by, decades go by, we don’t want to look at them, we don’t want to think about them, we don’t want to process them. I’m telling you, that’s not the recipe to heal. The cure for the pain is in the pain. You got to go back to those events and you got to process those. If there was trauma, look into EMDR therapy. I’ll bring an EMDR therapist to talk about this later. If there was stuff, what is grief and loss, get into support groups, work about it, journal it, talk about it, heal from it. If there was stuff about growing up and feeling discriminated go and give back to communities, and go and help people that are probably getting discriminated right now, be a part of the solution and watch how your personal experience not only starts to make you stronger and helps you heal but it’s gonna positively benefit the lives of others. I’m telling you, at the end of the day that’s all we have. You can pursue and chase whatever you want in life and you can build and build and build but when we die none of that stuff comes with you. Maybe you pass it on to someone that may or may not take care of it, but the only thing that I know for certain is that if you go make a positive impact in this thing we call our world, that when you die somebody else will live a life that is this much better because of the impact you had on them. And that my friends, is the reason why I do all this and that’s the reason why I hope that you start your recovery, healing and transformation journey. All that being said, I’m going to the Buckeye Recovery Network right now – we have our 23rd celebration of sobriety – if you’re ever in town in Orange County and you want to come to it all are welcome. We have about 40-50-60 people there and we cater in some food and people come in various levels of sobriety that have achieved some healing and they come and share about their experience, strength and joy – it’s fascinating, it’s worth watching. All that being said, I’ll be back next week. I love and appreciate all of you, thank you very much for your time and your patience with me and we’ll go from there. Love and appreciate you, see you next week, bye everyone.

Kelsey Gearhart

Director of Business Development

Kelsey carries multiple years of experience working in the substance abuse and mental health treatment field. Her passion for this field comes from her personally knowing recovery from addiction.

Prior to Buckeye she held titles of Recovery Coach, Operations Director, and Admissions Director. Kelsey was brought on at Buckeye Recovery as the Director of Business Development. She has a passion for ensuring every individual gets the help that they need, and does so by developing relationships with other providers.

Kelsey also oversees our women’s sober living environments – The Chadwick House for Women. She is committed to creating a safe, nurturing, and conducive environment for all women that walk through the doors of Chadwick.