Alright, what is up everyone? Welcome, it is Saturday, July 22nd of 2023 so yes this is currently live and if you’re watching this live with us, welcome! Welcome back if you’ve been here before and if you’re gonna watch this later on recording. I hope you’re welcome and feel free to be able to ask any questions you want during, before, after, and I’ll do my best to always accommodate. So while we wait for people to trickle in I’ll tell you a little bit about what this live stream is if it’s your first time watching it. So my name is Parham. I’m the weekly host of the show and we cover a lot here to be honest with you. We cover anything and everything that addresses addictions, mental health, personal development, understanding codependency, communication patterns, rebuilding trust, learning about trauma, abuse, self-care, and a little bit of everything in between.
So good morning everyone! And as you can see it’s really interactive so we have a nice little community here for example. Jim what’s up? Katalin, good to see you! Hussein from the bay! CJ what’s up? So as you leave your comments or questions I’m able to bring them on and kind of utilize them. We have people from all over the country, sometimes a few different countries, that pop up on this thing so it’s a nice opportunity for this recovery community to connect.
So a few things about myself. I do have a master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy with an emphasis in Child Development. I am a licensed Advanced Alcohol and Drug Counselor. I am in recovery myself so June 13, 2008 is the day that I kind of just went on a different path and started to evolve (we’ll call it) and stop using illicit substances and drugs and alcohol and all that kind of stuff and certain behaviors and lifestyles. I am a high school basketball coach so next week I won’t be here by the way, but outside of that I’m good until about November where basketball season gets a little wild on the weekends. But I’m here pretty much every week and I’m very committed to this cause and every time I do this talk, just so you know, it’s dedicated to one thing and that’s the possibility of human transformation. So if that’s something that piques your interest or if that’s something that you might be looking for I want you to know that this is going to be it. So let’s go.
Jess, it’s okay, I did email you back. So for all the people that watched last week me struggle with the fact that I didn’t email you, I did email you back. Just email me back and we’ll figure it out and then you’re done. Good morning, what’s up Amina over there? Mom and Dad!
Okay so today I’m going to talk about a topic that sounds very cliche and is oftentimes overused and rarely ever applied. Isn’t that funny? Something that’s always talked about but rarely do people actually apply it to their lives and hopefully by the end of today’s talk I can increase your understanding and awareness of what this is we’re talking about. Self-care. Why it’s important, what are the checkpoints that you need to have and just kind of like address in your life because this journey of life is turbulent. This journey of life has a lot of blind twists and turns and knowing that all you have to do is look back in your life and you can know exactly what I’m talking about. Knowing that it’s safe to say that you can predict that the future will have very similar obstacles and challenges. Now if you’re coming from a place that you’re dealing with of yourself or someone else’s addictions, mental illness, traumas, past traumas, current traumas or any type of grief and loss, not only is self-care something that is needed but I would go so far to say that it is required for your survival. And I’m not just saying like life and death stuff – sometimes it is life and death – but I’m talking about survival and sanity, the ability to navigate through those tough times. And the more you’ve experienced them, the more self-care is needed. So today what I’m going to do is I’m going to go through and talk about 12 different little thoughts, nuggets about self-care and I want you to do an honest assessment of yourself. No one’s watching, you’re not taking a test but just kind of look and see where you’ve fallen off this stuff and we’ll go from there.
Okay, so let’s start off. The very first thing, and I haven’t done this talk before by the way. I have another talk called Self-care is not a Luxury, it’s a Necessity. It’s a completely different talk. So this is new – I created it and hopefully it’s going to be good for you guys.
- So number one, when dealing with self-care you have to identify what your needs are and the best way I can explain something like this is you want to look at your total well-being. What is our total well-being? It’s our body, it’s our emotions, it’s our mind, it’s our thoughts, and you want to look inward and do some type of an assessment, some type of a diagnosis. For example, if you take your car to a garage or the mechanic’s shop right before they take all our money they do like a diagnostic check and in that diagnostic check they’re going to find out what’s right, what’s wrong, lights, that kind of stuff and then they can tell you what the plan of action is. See, without the diagnostic test you don’t know what you got to work on. So this evaluation to identify your needs is kind of like a self-imposed diagnostic check. So you want to look at your physical body, you want to look at what hurts, what doesn’t hurt, you want to look at the inside of your body, like your bloodwork, you want to look at your physical appearance of your body, you want to take a look at all this stuff and just see what’s right, what’s wrong, what needs a little bit more attention, what type of engine lights are on, just for identification purposes. Then you want to do the same for your emotions – you want to see how you’re processing emotions, what kind of emotions you have, are they primarily depressed, are they primarily anxious, are they primarily sad, are they primarily full of fear, you want to identify those emotions. Then you want to look at your thought processes – do you ruminate on thoughts, are you obsessed about a certain thing, are you having just negative pessimistic thoughts, are you just having surface level thoughts, and the whole point of identification of all that, the whole point of assessing all that is to see what needs to be addressed. And you’ll see when you’re doing self-care, because without it where do you start? And some of you might say it’s all of it, man, I need all of that. Well, that just shows you got a lot of self-care to do. It just shows that that’s where you are and that’s okay. There’s nothing wrong with saying “I checked 37 boxes.” You got 37 boxes to work on and the beauty of it is we don’t have to work on all of them at the same time.
Not just how you are right now, Hossein Jan, I think sometimes we have patterns in the past, sometimes we tend to repeat certain patterns over and over again, so even if you’re not experiencing something right now you might want to look in the past, you know past 5 years, 10 years, 15 years ago and see where you had some deficiencies. Because the odds of those things popping up back again without addressing them or having some type of a proactive plan is very very high. Dorothy, what’s up from the Jersey Shore, good to see you here, always a pleasure!
- So the next one that I have is make time for yourself. The first thing that I tell people, well see people tell me when talking about self-care and going through all the different things I’m going to talk about is, “I don’t have time for that. I gotta wake up, I got kids to deal with, I got work to deal with, I have errands to run, I have family members to go visit, I don’t have time for self-care, I don’t buy that, I don’t believe that, and I can’t cosign that.” Are there some days that we objectively have a hard time finding time because it’s just a one-off day or a two-off day that just everything’s slammed? Yes, that can happen – if that’s happening all the time you are just not prioritizing yourself. You are saying yes to way too many things, you’re agreeing to do way too many things at your own cost. See, all human beings, the homeless gentleman or woman that’s walking in the street right now, and the billionaire on top of some billion dollar mountain, they both got 24 hours in a day. And if you think that billionaire on a billion dollar mountain has a lot of free time you’re out of your mind – those people are the busiest people on this planet. And I’m telling you this. Time is not this thing that some people have more and you have less of. Time is a straight prioritization thing. It’s a straight prioritization thing you create, you carve, you develop pockets of time to make for yourself, to implement self-care. And the more I talk about this the more you’re going to realize that I’m not asking for hours a day. I might be asking for 30 minutes in the daytime, 30 minutes at nighttime. If you can’t carve that for yourself you’re not trying because I promise you, if you sat down and really hour by hour wrote down your day, hour by hour, not in just one of your days – an entire week including the weekends – you will be very very shocked and surprised of how much time is actually available for self-care. Now what happens is people say, “Oh but I did so much. I’m so tired. I just need to unwind.” Now you know so many people spend so much of their time just unwinding when we really got to recharge. And don’t get me wrong we’ll talk about unwinding – there’s a time and place for it but it’s not the primary self-care tactic – it’s one of the self-care tactics.
- So the next one that I have here – feel free to interrupt anytime you want to ask questions like Hussain did right there. I’m gladly able to answer. The next one that I have here is to prioritize your sleep and yes this includes adults too. You know what’s so funny like adults are so obsessed with the sleeping patterns of their children – I mean infants just run your world, they do whatever the hell they want to do, right? So we’re not talking about infants but when kids get a little bit older parents are so obsessed with bedtime they’re just like if they don’t sleep they’re going to be little monsters. If they don’t sleep they’re gonna be tired in the morning, they have to sleep at this time. Adults are obsessed about the sleeping times of children until they become adults themselves. Then you’re just like, “nah it’s okay, I could just watch that next show. I could just go to sleep a couple hours later, I can just make up for it in the morning with an extra few shots of espresso in my coffee. We are no different than children. And I used to struggle with this years ago because of workaholism. I would go to sleep routinely around 12 o’clock in the morning and wake up around five, six o’clock every single day, and it was just because I couldn’t stop working and couldn’t stop learning and going to school and doing all that kind of stuff. I grew out of that in the past couple years and sleep is so important. I mean I got like a tracker that makes sure that I’m sleeping optimized and I look at my sleep scores and I look at all that kind of stuff because the sharper I am in the daytime is a direct result of the type of rest I got the night before. And it’s not just one for one every night – it’s the same way sometimes you can sleep well and still be tired the next day because of life, but over the course of 365 days you’ll have way more productive days if you actually sleep. And why is this even more important for people like you that are going through first hand or second hand the addiction or the mental illness or the grief and loss and all that kind of stuff? Because your sleep is seriously disrupted. The quality of sleep you have is disrupted, the type of sleep you have is disrupted. I mean how many parents sleep with a phone on their chest because they’re waiting for the ambulance to call and say they got their kid overdosed? A lot of people. It’s kind of like if your sleep has been disrupted for so many years because of addiction – listen to this – it’s the equivalent of someone going into a ER room with just shattered legs and femurs and all that kind of stuff from like a motorcycle accident. And the doctor says your recovery is going to take six months – eight months – a year – you can’t walk for this amount of time, like it’s so severe because the fractures are so much, the rest deficiency in a lot of family members is so severe because the poor quality of sleep that you’ve gotten for so many years that you have to sleep. And you’re like what if I sleep and something happens? I don’t know, I can’t promise that for you and if it does I’m sorry, but if it doesn’t at least you start to get some rest back, and it’s your responsibility to do so. I know a lot of people have hard time sleeping and they’re like “I’ve always had a hard time sleeping and the reason is they go back to their childhood and they come from dysfunctional homes and chaotic homes and people yelling and screaming, all that kind of stuff like that and they couldn’t sleep, and they’ve never addressed it all and now they just think they’re a person that can’t sleep. All these things have root causes. Sometimes people stress so much – they’re worriers – they think about the future, the future, the future, the future. They lay in bed and they can’t sleep. There’s ways to combat all that stuff.
By the way, let’s see what CJ said. Five to nine is my time. One thing for my body and spirit. This is the action of program structure. Routine brings freedom. That’s a hard lesson to learn but it’s important. Atomic Habits is a great book, by the way. When she says five to nine is my time, man this is like someone that’s so committed to self-care that’s waking up with the intention to invest in self. Not many people do. Congratulations by the way, that you’re up that early doing that stuff. Not that many people commit to themselves first thing in the morning. They get up and they say, “Oh I gotta do this, this and this for everybody else,” – that takes prioritization. Jim is talking about the older I get (well, you’re still a young man Jim so you got a long way to go) I get the more important my sleep cycle gets. Absolutely man, it’s a lifehack – it’s one of the most important things you know. I think we adjust and adapt so much to functioning off little sleep that we think it’s normal or it’s possible. It is but we’re just not where we need to be, you know we’re just not where we need to be.
- So the next one that I have here is, eat nutritious food. Oh here he goes the man on the rant. I’m not gonna talk about a specific diet. I’m not going to talk about my specific diets or beliefs because when I do so it’s polarizing and you guys know I’m not one of those people that tries to divide, I try to join. So I’m going to do my best to talk this in a way that encompasses all people. Nutrition is one of the most important factors of mental health. How are they connected? They are absolutely connected when your body has the minerals, the vitamins, the nutrients, it needs to be able to thrive. The mind will operate more efficiently when you’re putting in real food void of ingredient labels, real food void of packaging and processed stuff and chemicals. Your body is going to operate better and your mind will be more clear. I’m not saying that all food replaces all medicine or anything like that – please don’t go that far, but I’m saying there is a significant connection in correlation between food and our body. When you’re talking about self-care, the body is one component of it. I just put a post a few days ago and it was the results of my blood work. I’m doing like a whole screening because of everything that happened to my brother. I just want to make sure that I’m healthy and I’m going to be doing some work to check out my heart and all that kind of stuff in a few weeks, some stress tests and EKGs and Echoes and all that kind of stuff. But my levels of cholesterol were way way way lower than just the middle of the line. I mean it was just barely almost obsolete it almost even exists and I’ve been battling this dialogue this conversation for so many years with my own family, not just specifically my poor mom and dad who are watching, this is all my family you know and a lot of people and just they’re like “yeah man, but just cholesterol, the genetic thing and it’s just in our family and it’s in this and that,” and I have some really strong genetic ties to my family members that say these kind of things and despite of genetic predisposition, despite of cardiovascular disease and strokes and heart attacks in my own family, like serious people like paternal, maternal, like family members I have little to no signs of cardiovascular disease, cholesterol and trust me it’s not my age – 40 years old – I know it’s young but it’s not my age. It has to do specifically and exclusively with the fact that I do not put cholesterol in my body I know and dietary cholesterol and it’s just so powerful to see that. And despite that there’s still a resistance of that theory. I know numbers don’t lie so if you want to see my blood work I will gladly show it to you as well. So when you go to the grocery store, when I say eat nutritious foods, if you don’t know what I’m talking about just go and scoop the outside of the store. So inside every grocery store, small or big, the outside is where all of the real food is, the fresh food, the produce. If you eat the dairy stuff and the meat stuff and all that kind of stuff it’s all on the outside. There are no ingredient labels on the outside. It is mono ingredients so whatever the food is, is the food, and that’s called whole food. So if you eat whole foods the odds of your body optimizing and being more healthy are greater but a lot of times people just go down the little alleys, I guess if you will, the grocery store and you know I have a little bit of compassion when it comes to certain peoples that have like you know families and big families and this and that, it gets a little bit more difficult but check this out. So I have a few employees that have big families and maybe one of them’s watching it right now. He’s like “Dude, it’s impossible with all the kids I got and all this and that and it’s just impossible,” and he is true on many different levels that it’s very freaking difficult – I’ll never say impossible – very difficult. But when the kids aren’t around and it’s just him or her eating their food they still make the choices they would as if the kids were around. So I just don’t understand these ways that people look at this when society as a whole is really struggling with this epidemic. It really is struggling with this epidemic. You guys know one third of the country is obese and two-thirds are overweight. One-third is obese and two-thirds are overweight out of 350 million people. By the year 2025 our healthcare system is not going to be able to sustain the amount of children that are going to need services for type 2 diabetes. And you know what I’ve been saying that line since 2017 on video and here I am saying it again – and guess what it’s only getting worse. Yeah CJ, that is a good book I think therapists recommended to me a while ago – Your Brain on Food. So it really starts talking about the drug-like components of food. This is good too – I like this – Eating quality food is a sign of respect for my body. Yeah and you know what, that’s true. So when we are more stressed we tend to stress-eat so what happens is when you’re feeling anxious or depressed we go for the high caloric high-fat foods. You want to know why? Because when we eat them we don’t have to feel, we don’t have to think, it just numbs us and there’s the choice again – ain’t no different than the many things that a lot of people in society do but have a bad rap to them.
- The next one that I have here is this one – just goes with that one. I’ll be quick on it but it just says, stay hydrated. And hydrated means with fluids because society, including myself for example, caffeine is widely used and I love caffeine and I use caffeine as you can tell by the way I talk, I’m probably caffeinated. But caffeine is a diuretic and caffeine dehydrates the body really bad and it’s a diuretic so it flushes you out and dehydrates you. So the drinking water and you can also get water from fruit once it’s melon season, watermelon stuff like that, you can get water but I will tell you this. Many people suffer from headaches, chronic fatigue and all that kind of stuff and I’m not a medical doctor so I’m not diagnosing it but one of the reasons and causes is oftentimes dehydration. We think that we are hydrated because we have that one glass of water but we don’t know how much hydration we actually need to feel optimized for our brain to work. These are all like tissues and it’s like they all flow together. 70% of our body is liquids. It’s important, it’s very important, but people neglect it and you know it’s like I’ve said this every week, I think maybe for three years. Things that are easy to do in life are also easy not to do. I understand that it’s easy to drink a glass of water but it’s also easy not to drink a glass of water and it just comes down to deliberation, consciousness, choice, action and wanting to do something. Let’s see what Jim says. Yeah man, coffee only in the mornings that’s pretty much mine too. It’s once in a while on the weekend or something if I wanted to stay up a little bit longer. I’ll have a little coffee in the afternoon like mid afternoon but outside of that I prioritize my sleep and that’s something I learned. I was getting caffeinated all day long and at night time just staring at the ceiling and then you got to look into getting like, “Oh now I need something to help me sleep,” and that’s just not a healthy sustainable pattern. So yeah juices are wonderful and it’s always funny whenever I recommend people to have juices and have fruit and all that kind of stuff they always talk about, “Oh there’s so much calories and juice and it’s so much sugar in it and I all that kind of stuff.” Nobody’s ever gained a significant amount of weight from eating apples or having apple juice, you know what I mean? It’s like there’s so many misconceptions, there’s so many beliefs that people have that are just so categorically false and it’s okay.
- So the next one that I have here is to make sure you engage in physical activity. Now, as soon as I say this to clients for example, they say, “Well, I don’t have time to go to the gym.” It’s like “Whoa whoa whoa, who said go to the gym? Just do something for your body, just put on your favorite music and go walk for 15 minutes, just go do something every day that’s not just getting in and out of your car or running an errand.” It’s with the intention that I’m gonna go move my body now. 15 minutes is like the straight minimum daily. 30 minutes, 45 minutes, an hour, just do something everyday for your body. When you move your body the mind will follow. So sometimes people want to think themselves into working out. “Okay I just got to work out, I know I have to work out, I know I have to go on a walk.” Don’t do that – you’re never gonna win. Go on a walk despite not wanting to go on a walk, and somewhere during the walk your body, your mind’s going to be like, “Oh it’s kind of nice that I’m walking right now.” Move your body and the mind will follow. That’s enough about that one. I’m very obsessed with that one by the way. It’s what’s helped me stay sane in the past few months of my life.
- The next one that I have is – this is another one of those interesting ones – so practice mindfulness and meditation. A little bit goes a long way. As soon as I tell somebody to practice mindfulness and meditation they tell me reasons why they can’t meditate. “Oh I just can’t sit still, I just can’t quiet my mind, my thoughts are always going, it doesn’t work for me.” Don’t go there. Just listen to what this actually means. Mindfulness and meditation can be a very small part of your day. For those of you who don’t practice any type of breathing exercises and techniques when is the last time you stopped and took three, four, five, six conscious deep breaths while holding the breath in your lung, feeling your lung expand, exhaling all of that air and all the stress and all the toxins and all whatever’s inside your body leaving your stomach empty for a few seconds, and repeating that process? It’s a cleansing breath – when was the last time you stopped to do that? That has nothing to do with “I can’t slow down my mind, I can’t sit there and do nothing, I can’t just be quiet.” It has nothing to do with it. Mindful breathing is the easiest way to tap into what I’m talking about right here. It’s super simple but it’s also easy not to do. I was telling our program participants this morning for the ones who have a hard time with closing their eyes and all that kind of traditional meditation stuff, the way that for me and I’m an overthinker, I think a lot, I have a hard time sitting still, very hard time sitting still. For me, when I wanted to get going with this and I’ve done this a bunch of times in the past few months because it’s like sometimes it’s overwhelming, I go and I stare at the ocean. I sit down at the beach, I stare at the ocean and all I do is watch the repetitive waves crash on the shore and all I do is watch. The waves go up, crash on the shore and I try to listen to the sound of the water crashing and I do this, and thankfully for me the waves usually don’t stop or they’re very frequent so I just get in this flow of watching it crash, hearing it crash, smelling the salt water, and it repeats and it repeats and it repeats and it repeats and before you know it I don’t notice anything around me and before you know it my thoughts get quiet and that’s a meditative state. Didn’t even have to think about my thoughts. The presence in that experience did it for me, so I don’t know what it is for you that you need to implement in your life that helps you practice mindfulness and meditation. Sometimes going on a walk and just observing everything you see that might be the color yellow or the color red and just being and just noticing it, or walking and just being mindful of every step you take – left, right, left, right – something as simple as that. These are all meditative practices. Most people can’t sit down and close their eyes and meditate for a long time. The ones that do have practiced that to get to that point. They train at it daily to get to that point. A lot of people compare their first day of meditation to the homie over there that’s been doing it for 27 years, like come on. Like the first time you hit a piano key you don’t expect to play like Mozart. If you want to be like that person meditate every day. I know most people don’t want to be that excessive meditator – we got stuff to do, but self-care routine is a part of it. Some days you’re going to need a little bit more of it, so find times to unwind. And yeah, and this is a good one too: Out with old and in with the new. It’s like a mantra you could say you know it’s just kind of a cleansing thought actually. I like that Jim.
- The next one that I have here is to set boundaries. Learn what your limits are and when and how to say no. I have a whole talk on boundaries. I’m not going to get into the actual boundaries talk. When it comes to addiction and recovery there’s certain things that are very important. For example, the one that I’ll just reiterate – if you set a boundary with somebody make sure that you honor it and hold it because if you don’t they’re just going to push that limit over and over and over again. And then if you’re not going to enforce the boundary don’t set it. Just don’t waste your time. But when it comes to self-care you have to learn how to say no. Again go back to the one about time. People say they don’t have enough time. I think that’s more of a boundary issue. I think it’s way more of a boundary issue that they just over exhausted themselves and overexerted and just overstretch themselves to the illusion that I have no time. But if they would have said no to a bunch of stuff the time would have been there. So a lot of people have a hard time saying no and that usually comes from childhood dysfunction. It usually comes from some type of an emotional disruption and they just want to say yes and they want to be approved and they want to people-please and they want to be the nice guy or the nice girl and all that kind of stuff and that’s okay if you want to do that – it’s none of my business. Just know that it’s going to have a cost on your mental health and when you set boundaries for yourself, it’s all on you to identify what those are and then you gotta uphold them and you got to learn how to say No. The homework assignment that I always give on this one is, learn to say no. So when someone asks you to do something say no to them, especially if you’re the one that always says yes. And do that to like three different people. And when you say no to the requests don’t explain to them, don’t give them your reasoning why. Don’t qualify it, don’t make sure they’re okay and not upset. Just say no. It’s just an exercise. Later on you can go tell them what you were doing, maybe like a week or two weeks after it so you can actually sit with the feelings. But most people, when they say no they feel guilty and ashamed and embarrassed and like, “Oh they’re gonna think I’m such a bad friend.” If a one-time rejection of someone’s request makes someone else think you’re a bad friend your friendship probably wasn’t anything in the first place, just so you know that. Congratulations! I was saying that’s an accomplishment and he said I used to never say no, but today I can and have been able to clearly say no. And it’s really important because you finally chose yourself and it doesn’t mean you love somebody less or by not doing something over and over again it’s like “Oh you’re a bad person now.” At some point we have to honor ourselves and we can’t just do everything at our own costs of our own mental well-being because a lot of this stuff by the way turns into sickness in the body, my friends. Jim said, “I had to change my diet almost two years ago, set boundaries on self, and so far so good.” This is a good example. So I wrote eat nutritious food – if not now when? It’s never too late to do this stuff, it really isn’t. A couple years ago for Jim he could have just been like, “you know what, never mind, I don’t want to do it,” but he still wants the quality of life and he chose that quality of life and he didn’t have to. You could have just been doing everything exactly as it was and the card’s fall however they fall. But he took some action in his life and you know the result is in the blood work, the result is in the data. It’s not that you just think that you’re getting better – you look at your blood work two years ago, you look at your blood work now, you see significant declines in all of those dangerous markers, and it’s correlated directly to that one decision.
- The next one that we have here (there’s 12 of them), so the next one says engage in hobbies. Now do things that make you lose track of time. For a lot of people experiencing addictions, mental illness, trauma, grief and loss, there’s something that happens and that thing is called anhedonia. What anhedonia is, is the loss of pleasure in things and activities that at one point would give us pleasure. So for example if you were a kid riding a bike was just the most amazing epic experience of your life and now you’ve gone through this whole process of addictions, mental illness, trauma, grief and loss, and just the thought of getting on a bike is like “what’s the point, where are we going to go, it’s going to be so crowded over there, I just don’t want to do it.” See that’s this thing called anhedonia. That riding a bike gave you pleasure at one point but right now you can’t find it. So what we do is, we do it anyways, because as a kid it was never about where we were going or what we were doing, it was about getting on the bike and just going. It’s the journey, not the freaking destination. And as adults we forget that. We forget the joy that exists in the journey so if you want to break through anhedonia you have to do things that at one point gave you pleasure in your life, and you’ll find them and when you do, you lose track of time and that’s the magic. How did it get this hour of the day? It flew by. That’s the healing stuff. And when’s the last time you did something that made you lose track of time? When’s the last time you did something for the first time? How about that question? The last time you did something for the first time? You know at some point in our life everything we did was the first time. At some point in your life everything you ever did in your life was the first time you were doing it, but now when I ask you when’s the last time you did something for the first time some of you might say years ago. That’s so sad. When did we stop living and we just started existing? Conscious choice again.
- The next one that we have is connect with others. The opposite of addiction is connection. It doesn’t have to be a lot of people. It could be a small little community like this that we have, it could be a couple of your close friends, family members, it could be a sponsor, it could be a therapist, whatever it is you just got to make sure that you connect. And the more we experience pain as a result of addiction, mental illness, trauma, grief and loss, the more we tend to disconnect. And that’s our natural response for many of you that are in the recovery process you know that’s dangerous. I don’t want to isolate I’m going to go connect but there’s a lot of people who don’t know that, and they go into isolation, and what happens in isolation? Nothing good grows in the dark. It just tends to manifest in different ways, doubling down on potentially the addiction, doubling down on the mental illness, doubling down on the pain resulting from the trauma, making the grief and loss last forever. I’ve worked with people that someone in their life passed away like seven or eight or ten years ago and it never goes away. So this is something I’m learning, the pain is going to always be there but they are so they’ve isolated and stopped talking about it for so long that they feel the intensity of it as if it just happened, and that just tells me that they didn’t do the healing process. Now can someone be super emotional about something that happened years ago and just feel the sadness? Absolutely, but I’m talking about to the point that they can’t function in their life, impaired in every level at work, relationships, health, all that kind of stuff because of something that happened there. And when you go back and find out what happened they say they stop talking about it, they fully isolated, they just kind of gave up, they died when they died. So make sure that we connect. Let’s see what we got here – it’s a comment. “What should be the quality of those who we connect to?” I think that’s a good question but I think it’s very specific for the individual. So for example, what you think is quality in somebody might not be someone that I think is quality in them. I might not look to them for advice or look up to them but you might and vice versa. What I might look into and up to it might not be someone that you find the quality so it comes down to your personal values. It’s a good answer and what you think is important and is that person aligned with those values? Usually when our values align with somebody we tend to get the best outcome. Usually that’s the case. Pain is inevitable, suffering however an option I choose not to live by. I’ll dabble my toe in suffering for like maybe a couple hours, maybe a day or two, but then I just snap out of it, and I’ll take the pain any day, I’ll take the pain any day with the suffering. It’s not for me, not for people like us.
- The next one that I have here is limit your screen time. Unplug to relax. Digital fatigue is a thing. I know you’re watching me on a digital screen right now and I know that we all use these things called cell phones and laptops and we watch these things called televisions and we go to movie theaters and all that kind of stuff like that. I’m not saying that all of that is bad okay, so please hear me out the same way that food isn’t bad, all this stuff isn’t bad. There is a beautiful time, a place, a purpose, a value from it, but you gotta limit the screen time we have. I did this talk with our program participants earlier and I think this is pretty important. Look at it this way – in big business like capitalist big business – rarely do they ever offer any of their products for free – it’s just the way the markets are, and we’re all cool with that supply and demand. There’s a cost for services – if you agree you pay for it they give you the service and it’s a handshake, it’s all good. So in big business there’s usually a cost associated with things but where a lot of people are struggling right now is on social media apps for example let’s just go with Tik Tok, Facebook, Instagram, when was the last time that you paid a monthly subscription for your Tik Tok account? When was the last time that you paid a monthly subscription for your Facebook account? When was the last time that you paid a monthly subscription to your Instagram account? The answer is never, never, never. So big business is providing us with a service for free, come on, that ain’t happening. So what is the commodity being exchanged for that service? If it’s not our money it’s our human attention – we are paying with us. We are paying with our attention and they can get that algorithm so damn good that your wall and your feet can be so personalized that it can capture your attention for hours and hours and hours and hours. Go look at your screen time on your social media apps and see if you’re using social media or is social media using you. For some of you older generation that may not have grown up with a phone in your hand, you might actually be using social media but for your sons, your daughters, your grandkids, your nieces, your nephews, your younger siblings, they think they’re using social media. Oh man, oh my, are they the ones being played. You know some of these kids got screen times of like eight, ten hours a day. Who’s using who? So limit your screen time. Unplug. I love going places, leaving my phone at home. People think I’m crazy, but I don’t care. I understand there could be an emergency and sometimes in life there is but I’ve also realized that in my 40 years of life there’s only been a few emergencies ever. If you break down all those into days you’ll come up with a very very very very very very very large number and if you break that down to the two incidents of the emergencies and that large number and you get a percentage it is so damn low that it’s not even mathematically important. What’s the point of being hyper connected to something that’s taking away our human attention to this thing called life? People functioned fine I guess back in the day without cell phones, I was okay, it was okay, life was good.
We have all those comments, lovely. “I love my movies.” Yeah you can watch your movies Jim, it’s a totally healthy recreational and social few hours in a week to go spend somewhere but there ain’t nothing wrong with that. You know which ones are bad Jim – it’s the person – I’m not even gonna say young person – it’s the person that goes to work all day, go sits on a couch after work, sits down on their couch, puts on Netflix and watches show after show after show after show after show, goes to sleep at two o’clock in the morning barely is able to get up in the morning because of what they did the night before, and they’re so distracted and unfocused at work all they do is scroll on their phone and just counting down to get home again. They go to the fast food on the way home and they watch the next season of the same damn show that next night. There’s a difference – subliminal messaging – everything’s got us a little message.
- The last one of self-care is seek help when needed. Mental health matters. Each of you that have logged on to this and are watching this live or later on you’re doing something for your mental health this is a professional – I am a professional – so you’re seeking professional help the same way you break something you go to a doctor, same way you feel something in your arm a tumor or something you go to the doctor and say, “Doctor, help me.” Mental health is the same way. I understand that it’s not until recent years, in the past 20, 30, 40 years that people started to really look at the mind and our mental health just as important as physical health but we’re here now and it’s important. If you haven’t already sought out help for it, do it. If you’re going through anything and you’re struggling with your mental health go get some professional help because it’s vital and critical and crucial for your survival. You can’t navigate this world without having your head on right. Our mental health matters. So if you are someone living this journey called life I hope this talk inspired you to be proactive and start to diagnose and assess what you actually need in life.
Create a self-care plan, execute it to the best of your ability, so when the time comes that life comes and punches you in the face you’re not going to get so disoriented that you can’t function. And that’s sometimes the best we can do. And you know if nothing happens then you’re just going to feel better and better and my hope is that every human being has a self-care plan and takes this seriously. The sad part about it, like I said earlier, it’s probably the most talked about Topic in mental health circles. When people get asked for help and it’s probably the least executed because, “don’t you know, my situation is different, don’t you know how busy I am, don’t you know how stressed out I am, don’t you know how much responsibilities I have, I don’t have time for this stuff, I have to help this this and this person, oh I don’t have the money to eat that kind of food, I have to eat this kind of food, I don’t have the time to do it,” and as soon as you tell people to start investing in themselves all they do is tell you reasons why they can’t. I don’t know why that happens but you don’t have to be one of those people. Live beyond your excuses, live beyond your reasons of why you can’t do something and find some reasons of why you not only can do something but you need to do something. What’s the point of living life if you’re not living the best version of yourself? And the only person that could bring out that best version of yourself: go take a look in the mirror – it’s that person looking right back at you, and I hope that person’s smiling back at you today, and if that’s the case then we’re all good.
Alright my friends, I won’t be here for this group next week but I will be here the following week. And again if you’re a local in Orange County every Tuesday at 6 30 p.m we have a family support education group facilitated by myself – it is free to attend – anyone and everyone is welcomed as long as you’ve experienced some type of addiction, mental illness, trauma or grief and loss, whether it’s firsthand or secondhand, I don’t even care just come on down and I’ll gladly have you there. So have a wonderful weekend! Take care everyone, bye!