Tag Archives: addiction

Love

by Dr. Ken Larsen (Originally posted 7/2/14)

Love and belonging is at the top of the list of our basic needs named by Dr. Glasser.  What we do to fulfill those needs is the essence of mental health and happiness.   Love is a word with many meanings.  I’d like to examine some of those meanings.

Anyone who has been to summer Bible camp has probably been exposed to the Greek words we have for “love”.  They are:

  • “Philos”.   This is brotherly love. Think of Philadelphia, the city of brotherly love.
  • “Agape” is the selfless, unconditional love that is often used to describe God’s love for humanity.
  • “Eros” is the intimate affection between lovers.
  • “Storge” is a parent’s love for their children.

Each of these ways of expressing love are lifegiving and enriching of relationships.

We need an infusion of love to live and to enjoy life in health and happiness.

mom_baby

Love is poured into us from the very beginnings of our existence.  A mother looks on her baby with love while caring for her baby’s needs.   We are learning that this life giving, life enhancing connection between a mother and her baby is much more than just a “nice to have” expression of affection.  It is actually essential for the healthy development of the baby, especially  for their social and emotional development.  This connection goes both ways.  Both mother and baby enjoy a release of neurochemicals that support their mental health and happiness.

Sadly, there are some children who are deprived of this early enriching experience of love and care.  Many of these kids grow up and experience difficulties connecting socially.  Often there is limited ability  to self regulate difficult emotions.  This often leads to the self medication that leads to addictions.  Violence and unloving sex are behaviors often associated with people that have not had the early experience of love that is needed for mental health and happiness in a stressful world.

I am convinced that it is better to reach out a helping hand before we read another tragic headline born of the not so quiet desperation suffered by some of our people.

How can each of us make a deposit of love into the accounts of those whose emotional checks are bouncing?  There is no quick and easy answer, at least none that I know of, but I do know that it is better to reach out than to reject and ignore.  There is that wonderful tagline that it is better to light one candle than to curse the darkness.

Elvis did a song entitled “Life” back in the 70s.  The closing line is “…for life is love and love is life.”

Here’s the song if you’re interested.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T4cWkMXrGjo

Happiness Key

By Dr. Ken Larsen (Originally posted 12/14/13)

Happiness is not something ready made.  It comes from your own actions. — Dalai Lama

I gained a bit of wisdom when I first realized that happiness was a byproduct and not something to be sought for itself.

happinesskeyDr. Glasser points out that if we are connected to people we want to be with and are getting our needs met in those relationships, we will probably be happy.  He also points out that if we are not getting the good feelings of happiness that come from needs satisfying relationships, there is a tendency to turn to addictions, violence and unloving sex.  These describe efforts to feel good when feeling bad and often involve seeking pleasure as a substitute for happiness.

Mike Rice, a seasoned Choice Theory therapist, underscores the difference between the right kind of happiness and the isolating efforts to feel good through the pleasures of addictive substances.  He works to help his clients see the difference so they can make better choices that lead to better relationships and a better chance at happiness.

Mike offers a helpful distinction between pleasure and happiness.  He points out that pleasure can be found in isolation, not needing anyone else.  Happiness is a byproduct of needs fulfilling relationships with others.

In his first book,  Reality Therapy, Dr. Glasser gave us a succinct statement of what we need to be mentally healthy and happy.  He said that we need to fulfil our basic need to “love and be loved, and to feel worthwhile to ourselves and others.”

It seems to me that the key to happiness lies in understanding our need for one another.  Then we need to find ways to relate to one another in ways that bring us closer together.  Finally we need to learn to avoid the kinds of things we do to separate ourselves from one another.  [There are articles on this web page that discuss the seven deadly habits and the seven caring habits.  Refer to them for more.]

The wisdom in the Golden Rule transcends time and cultural, ethnic and religious differences.  Our challenge is to learn to apply that golden rule in all that we do.

If you are looking for more of the kinds of thinking you are seeing here, I recommend reading Dr. Glasser’s  Choice Theory. If you have already read it, read it again.  I guarantee you’ll gain fresh insights each time you read it .

Love is all you need

By Michael Rice, LISAC, CTRTC

Addicts and alcoholics all lack happiness and a sense of well-being.  It’s what prompted them to drink/use in the first place.   Happy people who truly like themselves don’t have a need to abuse drugs or alcohol in order to feel better.   Pure air is more than sufficient for them.

allyouneedisloveWhen one has acquired the love of one’s self as well as the love from the important people in his/her life, they have acquired a pervasive sense of happiness and well-being.  Even in times of adversity or illness, the person who loves and receives love deals with unhappiness in healthy ways of hope and gratitude.  They handle life’s woes much better than the person who lacks love and connection with others.

Ironically, it is an addict’s/alcoholic’s drugged behavior while under the influence that causes them to lose whatever love they may have had.  The more they drink or use to dissipate their unhappiness, the more they create their own sense of shame and guilt . . . adding two more things they want to overcome by drinking or using.

What they need the most is love.  However, if those who are closest to them hold much resentment, harbor a lot of anger, and feel wounded by their behavior, it would be extremely difficult for them to show any compassion or love towards them.  The behavior of an addict or alcoholic oftentimes creates resentment and anger to those closest to them.  Others see their behavior as the person’s true behavior and not their drugged affected behavior.

Even in many treatment centers, the need for genuine love is overlooked leading to failed attempts at sobriety.  One of the reasons A.A. works so well is due to the love and understanding given them by those who have been there.  This is why A.A. is called, “A Fellowship.”  But all too often, it is the alcoholic/addict’s shame and guilt that puts up a defensive wall towards “getting help from outsiders” or “people who don’t even know me.”

The most successful mental health and recovery programs are those which are aware of the magic of love towards their clients.  I am not speaking of romantic love between therapist and clients but the love of true caring and concern from the important people in one’s life.  Love, both caring and romantic, has the power to create long lasting happiness and wellbeing.  Of course there is more than just Love that and addict/alcoholic needs.  They also need forgiveness and acceptance which falls under the umbrella of love.  Once again, I refer to the Beatles:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EKiqthx0GKw

 

 

 

 

 

Let Go and Get Free

By Dr. Ken Larsen

This is one technic for catching monkeys. Hollow out a large gourd, leaving a small opening at one end.  Inside the gourd put a piece of fruit that monkeys like a lot.  Then anchor the gourd securely and move on out of sight.  Soon, a monkey will come along to check out the gourd.  Finding the tempting piece of fruit inside, he reaches in and tries to pull it out.   But the opening in the gourd is just big enough to get his hand in.  Once he grasps the fruit inside, his hand is just too large to pull back out of the opening.  Not wanting to let go of the fruit, the monkey is trapped with his hand in the gourd.

monkeyAll the monkey has to do to get free would be to let go of the fruit, pull his hand out of the gourd and scamper up a nearby tree.

I wonder how often we grab and hold on to something that we think we want and need in spite of the harm it’s doing to us.

Some of the more destructive things we habitually hold on to are resentments.  Something happened to us in the past that was harmful or hurtful.  Sometimes the memories of these hurtful events haunt us and we play them again.  There are many reasons for “playing the old tapes” and none of them are good.  Each time we revisit those old resentments, the old feelings come back.  We need to let go.  Forgive the offender and make a conscious choice not to linger in those painful past places.  It takes some effort to do this, but life today will be better if we let the past stay past.

All too often the psychic/emotional pain caused by re- feeling these resentments leads us to looking for relief in a behavior or substance.   We feel bad and want to feel good and the cycle of resentment and pain can lead us to some wrong places to find the good feelings we want so badly.  Those “wrong places, can be behaviors or substances that are addictive.  We cycle from feeling bad to trying to feel good only to come back to feeling bad.  We are stuck and don’t know how to let go.

Sometimes it’s hard to know the difference between a true addiction and just a bad habit.  The one distinguishing characteristic that answers the question for me is “use despite harm.”  If we’re doing something or using something and it’s doing us harm and we can’t just stop, I think “addiction”.

“Use despite harm” can cover behaviors, substances, even certain relationships.  The key to letting go is to recognize that we are holding on to something that is harmful to us and then getting the help and support we need to let go and get free.

Life is love and love is life…

by Dr. Ken Larsen

Love and belonging is at the top of the list of our basic needs named by Dr. Glasser.  What we do to fulfill those needs is the essence of mental health and happiness.   Love is a word with many meanings.  I’d like to examine some of those meanings.

Anyone who has been to summer Bible camp has probably been exposed to the Greek words we have for “love”.  They are:

  • “Philos”.   This is brotherly love. Think of Philadelphia, the city of brotherly love.
  • “Agape” is the selfless, unconditional love that is often used to describe God’s love for humanity.
  • “Eros” is the intimate affection between lovers.
  • “Storge” is a parent’s love for their children.

Each of these ways of expressing love are lifegiving and enriching of relationships.

We need an infusion of love to live and to enjoy life in health and happiness.

mom_baby

Love is poured into us from the very beginnings of our existence.  A mother looks on her baby with love while caring for her baby’s needs.   We are learning that this life giving, life enhancing connection between a mother and her baby is much more than just a “nice to have” expression of affection.  It is actually essential for the healthy development of the baby, especially  for their social and emotional development.  This connection goes both ways.  Both mother and baby enjoy a release of neurochemicals that support their mental health and happiness.

Sadly, there are some children who are deprived of this early enriching experience of love and care.  Many of these kids grow up and experience difficulties connecting socially.  Often there is limited ability  to self regulate difficult emotions.  This often leads to the self medication that leads to addictions.  Violence and unloving sex are behaviors often associated with people that have not had the early experience of love that is needed for mental health and happiness in a stressful world.

I am convinced that it is better to reach out a helping hand before we read another tragic headline born of the not so quiet desperation suffered by some of our people.

How can each of us make a deposit of love into the accounts of those whose emotional checks are bouncing?  There is no quick and easy answer, at least none that I know of, but I do know that it is better to reach out than to reject and ignore.  There is that wonderful tagline that it is better to light one candle than to curse the darkness.

Elvis did a song entitled “Life” back in the 70s.  The closing line is “…for life is love and love is life.”

Here’s the song if you’re interested.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T4cWkMXrGjo