Urge Surfing Prevents Relapses.

By David Joel Miller.

Don’t let urges knock you down.

Urge Surfing Prevents Relapses.

Urge Surfing Prevents Relapses.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Urge surfing is an idea that comes from substance use disorder treatment. Learning to cope with urges can help prevent relapses into depression, anxiety, substance use disorders, and many other mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders.

A coworker and I discussed the similarities between surfing on the ocean and surfing urges. He is an avid surfer and tells me that not having a good relationship with the waves can leave scars. Ignoring urges and what is causing them can leave mental and emotional scars.

What is an urge?

Urges are sudden, intense impulses to do something. People with urges often feel compelled to act. When the idea enters the mind, it can become a compulsion. Urges can be intense, unpleasant sensations. Once the urge arises, it is hard to avoid acting on it. Wrestling with urges results in a lot of relapses into unhelpful thinking, and unhealthy behaviors.

Urges rise and fall.

Urges, in the early stages, can come on slowly and gradually, other times they rise rapidly, like a heavy ocean swell. You could easily be swept away before you realize the danger of the urge. The challenge with urges is to maintain your position without being carried away by the urge. Typically urges last 20 to 30 minutes.

Concentrating too much on ocean waves leaves you unprepared when they arrive. You should prepare for the rising and falling urges ahead of time also.

Wrestling urges, wears you out.

The typical response to urges is to try to avoid thinking about them and resist acting. The more you struggle, the more tired you become. Trying to not think about something makes the thought grow. To defeat urges you need to do two things. First, do not give in. Sometimes giving in and sometimes not amounts to intermittent reinforcement, one of the hardest things to overcome. Second, don’t exhaust yourself swimming directly into the urge. Practice floating above the surface, riding out the comings and goings of urges.

Urges can affect your thinking, your feelings, and your behavior.

Surfers who develop a negative attitude don’t last long. If you engage in self-criticism, telling yourself you should have caught the last wave, you need to wait for the next one; you don’t surf, you get washed ashore. Having cravings and urges is a natural part of recovery. Don’t beat yourself up for having urges. Having urges can make you feel like you’re not doing recovery correctly. Don’t let your urges take you places you should not go. Stick to the behaviors that will further your recovery.

Make peace with your urges.

Surfing the urges allows you to reach a place of neutrality where you neither wrestle the urge nor give in to it. What you need to do is to step back from the urge and begin to watch it as an outside observer. From this vantage point, you will see that your urges rise and fall. If you can stay in this relaxed state for a time, the urge recedes.

Accept that it is okay to feel however you are feeling.

You do not have to take action to change your feelings. Your life is a real life. There are things you like about it, and there are things that you will not like. Sometimes you will feel happy, and sometimes sad. Sometimes you will be calm, and sometimes you will be anxious. The key to making peace with your feelings, and not being swept away by urges, is to learn to recognize what you are feeling without rushing to change that feeling.

What feeling is coming up for you?

As you feel the urges rising, work on identifying what that feeling is. Are you feeling anxious, depressed, or frustrated? When urges rise, you may be thinking about others. Are you telling yourself it’s not fair that you must quit drinking or drugging, while others are continuing to do these things?

Learn the signs of oncoming cravings.

A water surfer notices the wave coming. Begins to paddle before the wave reaches them. They are up to speed when the wave reaches them. Notice the onset of uncomfortable feelings when urges are on the rise. Pay attention to increases in unhelpful thoughts. Watch your body for signs of negative emotions, that pain in the neck, the queasy stomach.

Practice urge reduction skills before the urge waves wash over you. Learn grounding techniques, scanning your body for tension, and use other relaxation methods. Breathing is especially important when it comes to keeping your head above water. Positive self-talk, affirmations, and grounding techniques can keep you prepared for the next round of urges.

Want to sign up for my mailing list?

Get the latest updates on my books, due out later this year by signing up for my newsletter. Newsletter subscribers will also be notified about live training opportunities and free or discounted books. Sign up here – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings, and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books

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Looking it up in the dictionary won’t help.

By David Joel Miller.

Please don’t say look it up in the dictionary.

Dictionary

Looking it up in the dictionary won’t help.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

A lot of people think the way to find the one “true, correct” meaning of a word is to look it up in the dictionary. It is just not that simple. The problem with agreeing on the meaning of the word psychology is a good example.

Depending on your age, the historical period you attended school, and the education system you attended, you probably used a very different dictionary. For my grandmother’s generation, the preferred dictionary was probably the Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia. For my generation, it was most likely Webster’s dictionary. Today the most likely choice is likely to be one of the online dictionaries. The more dictionaries you use, the more definitions you get.

The written and spoken words existed before the dictionaries.

The way the early dictionaries were created was to collect examples of how the words were used and then based on that context describe the meaning the writer had in mind. Older dictionaries might include a larger number of meanings or a particular word. Examples they listed would be heavy with quotations from Chaucer, Shakespeare, and Dickens, but probably also included many examples from other lesser known authors. The writing came first, and that determined the meaning, not the other way around.

New words keep getting added to the dictionary as they are created. Existing words may have additional meaning added to their description as people using existing word in a new way.

Professions have highly specialized dictionaries.

In interpreting legal documents and court orders, lawyers don’t refer to the same dictionary you might be using. They commonly look words up in “Black’s Law Dictionary.” People who work in the mental health field may use the DSM-5 or the ICD. Other professionals have their own specialized dictionaries.

Professional vocabularies are supposed to be used in very precise ways. In diagnosing bipolar disorder, there are specific criteria for a manic episode, a hypomanic episode, and a major depressive episode. The specific variety of bipolar disorder is diagnosed using these episodes.

When people today describe someone as bipolar, but they’re often describing is someone who is moody, irritable, or grouchy. Other times the term is applied to someone who’s moods change quickly. All these ways the word bipolar is being used may have little to do with the technical definition of bipolar disorder.

The term narcissism in psychology describes the trait of feeling good about yourself roughly the equivalent of self-esteem. In mental health, narcissism refers to  Narcissistic Personality Disorder a serious mental illness.

Researchers may create “operational” definitions.

For research, psychologists might define a characteristic based on the score on a verbal screening instrument. People scoring above a certain number on the depression scale are considered depressed.

On an IQ scale, those with a score of 84 or below could be described as having intellectual challenges or disabilities, scoring 85 or above would be considered normal. Other than on that one test that one day, these two people might be impossible to tell apart.

There is a difference between denotative and connotative meanings.

Denotative meanings, those are the meanings that form the bulk of the contents of dictionaries. Hot, cool, and cold, these words all describe temperature. Scientists might define this in terms of the energy state of molecules. But in popular culture, those words, hot or cool might describe the newest, in, popular, music or personality, or fashion style.

Can you see how looking it up in the dictionary doesn’t always solve communication problems?

Want to sign up for my mailing list?

Get the latest updates on my books, due out later this year by signing up for my newsletter. Newsletter subscribers will also be notified about live training opportunities and free or discounted books. Sign up here – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings, and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books

Ashamed.

Sunday Inspiration.     Post by David Joel Miller.

humiliated

Ashamed.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Ashamed.

“I never wonder to see men wicked, but I often wonder to see them not ashamed.”

― Jonathan Swift

“Don’t you think the things people are most ashamed of are things they can’t help?”

― C.S. Lewis, Till We Have Faces

“Do not be ashamed of help.”

― Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

Wanted to share some inspirational quotes with you.  Today seemed like a good time to do this. If any of these quotes strike a chord with you, please share them.

 

Bashful.

Sunday Inspiration.     Post by David Joel Miller.

Shy Boy

Bashful.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Bashful

“I’m a bashful individual, though I can’t get anyone to believe it…”

― Louisa May Alcott

“Have you got a brook in your little heart, Where bashful flowers blow, And blushing birds go down to drink, And shadows tremble so?”

― Emily Dickinson, Poems by Emily Dickinson, Three Series, Complete

“A certain shame or bashfulness attached itself to whatever one deeply and privately enjoyed.”

― C.S. Lewis, Surprised by Joy: The Shape of My Early Life

Wanted to share some inspirational quotes with you.  Today seemed like a good time to do this. If any of these quotes strike a chord with you, please share them.

Shiny outside, dark side within – the narcissist.

By David Joel Miller.

Narcissists are dazzling at first.

In psychology, there’s an idea referred to as trait narcissism. This trait is closely related to self-esteem and measures how good you feel about yourself. As your narcissism rises, you feel better about yourself. Generally, this is considered a good thing. As your self-esteem rises you take better care of yourself. You may dress better and exhibit more self-confidence. The problems begin when the narcissist loses the ability to empathize with others, and it becomes all about them. At that point, high trait narcissism, or self-esteem, can become a destructive pathological narcissism we call narcissistic personality disorder.

Too much narcissism quickly turns repulsive.

People who have dated pathological narcissists report that in the beginning, the narcissist was extremely attractive. They often dress well, have expensive cars, and appear successful. Pathological narcissists have attracted fields where they can run the show and be in control of others.

When you first meet them, Narcissists are charming. Romantic partners find themselves swept off their feet. In romantic relationships, the problems begin to appear about the seventh date. In business contexts, it may take many months to recognize the destructive aspects of the narcissist.

In narcissism confidence becomes arrogance.

Confidence is a good thing when it comes from a high level of skill and talent. What makes the narcissist dangerous is that their confidence is the result of overvaluing their abilities. Narcissists are good at boasting that they can’t produce the result. What looked like competent turns out to be arrogance. They overestimate themselves and underestimate everyone else.

The narcissist’s overconfidence turns out to be a lack of insight.

Narcissists seek evidence that they are always right and superior to others. Consequently, they discount the opinions and contributions of others. They lose the ability to understand how their actions are affecting others. Narcissists, the pathological kinds, just don’t care about other people. Their view of the world is unrealistic they are unable to accept that they are less than perfect.

The Charming narcissist becomes manipulative and impulsive.

When you first meet a narcissist, they turn on the charm. This is easy for them to do because they fully believe that everyone worships them and that they are superior to others. Because of their unrealistic self-confidence and don’t think things over and act impulsively. These impulsive actions based on the belief that they are always right in their actions should always be admired.

With a narcissist, a dramatic life turns into attention-seeking histrionics.

Because of their grandiose beliefs, narcissists tend to live drama filled lives. They live larger than life adventures. In their minds, they should be the stars of their own reality show. If others interested in him should lag, they’re likely to behave in histrionic ways.

It’s not unusual for people with pathological narcissism, technically called narcissistic personality disorder, to also qualify for diagnoses of histrionic personality disorder and antisocial personality disorder. When you believe, you are that wonderful; it’s easy to believe that everything should be about you and that the rules that apply to ordinary mortals don’t apply to you.

With the narcissist, imaginative becomes odd, even bizarre.

People who are high in self-confidence are often imaginative and creative. When self-esteem moves into being feelings of superiority, that creative streak can become bizarre thinking and behavior.

More about Narcissists.

As we move through our series of Narcissism posts, feel free to ask questions and leave comments. To help you find these posts, below are some links to point you in the right direction. Keep in mind that all the posts about narcissists appeared in the narcissism category but links to future posts will not be live until future posts appear.

Narcissism category.                          Personality disorders.

Narcissistic traits.                               Psychology. (coming soon)

Narcissistic relationship partner.        Relationships.

Self-esteem.                                        Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

Want to sign up for my mailing list?

Get the latest updates on my books, due out later this year by signing up for my newsletter. Newsletter subscribers will also be notified about live training opportunities and free or discounted books. Sign up here – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings, and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books

Arrogance.

Sunday Inspiration.     Post by David Joel Miller.

narcissism, smugness

Arrogance.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Arrogance

“These illustrations suggest four general maxims[…].

The first is: remember that your motives are not always as altruistic as they seem to yourself.

The second is: don’t over-estimate your own merits.

The third is: don’t expect others to take as much interest in you as you do yourself.

And the fourth is: don’t imagine that most people give enough thought to you to have any special desire to persecute you.”

― Bertrand Russell, The Conquest of Happiness

“There are more things in heaven and earth…than are dreamt of by your philosophy.”

― William Shakespeare, Hamlet

 

Wanted to share some inspirational quotes with you.  Today seemed like a good time to do this. If any of these quotes strike a chord with you, please share them.

Fast Stress reduction.

By David Joel Miller.

Ways to quickly defuse stress.

Stressed out

Stressed.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Life is full of stress, some good and some bad.  Even the good kind of stress can wear you down. The longer you hold on to stress the more harm it will cause you.  Work on releasing your stress as rapidly as possible. Avoid stress when you can. Eliminate unnecessary stress when possible. For the unavoidable stresses in life try practicing some of these rapid stress reduction methods.

For less stress focus on your breathing.

Breathe slowly, breathe deeply.  Rapid shallow breathing increases anxiety.  Slow, deep breathing relaxes and destresses you.  Anytime you feel overwhelmed shift your focus to the way you are breathing. In goes the oxygen, out goes the stress.

Change the music.

Music strongly influences our moods. The music you listen to can reflect your mood; it can also change your mood.  When you are feeling stressed, put on some soft, relaxing music. Instrumental music can be especially relaxing. Music connects with our inner feelings in a deeper way than words alone.

Cool down for less stress.

Chill out to reduce your stress.  Your body temperature can affect the feeling of stress.  When you are feeling under stress, pay extra attention to the way, your body experiences the temperature.  When possible turn on a fan, move to a cooler spot or drink something cold. A small desktop fan can blow away the stress along with the heat.

Give yourself a timeout to allow your stress to subside.

Allow time for you to think things over instead of reacting too quickly.  Look for ways to disengage from the stress if only for a few minutes. Counting to ten is a start. Longer timeouts are even better. Glancing away when safe, even for a moment, can help to interrupt the cycle of escalating stress. Taking short breaks will not detract from your productivity. Those rest breaks will keep you at top efficiency.

Disengage from artificial environments.

One quick way to reduce stress is to re-engage with the natural world.  Get outside for a few minutes.  Pay attention to the trees, the flowers and the world around.  Artificial environments can add to your stress. Spending some time in nature can reduce that stress. In times of stress, reconnect with nature. If you can’t get outside, try looking out a window. Having a house plant on your desk can be relaxing.

To destress move your body.

Do a little exercise, take a walk. A little bit of physical exercise can be a great help in reducing and managing stress.  It does not need to be strenuous exercise.  Get up and walk around, take a trip to the copy machine or the water cooler.  Something as simple as shifting your body position can take the strain off your muscles and allow you to refocus on the task at hand.

Life becomes less stressful when you can picture the outcome you want.

Visualize having overcome your obstacles.  Sitting ruminating about your problems only magnifies the stress.  Think about what it will look like, what others will see, when you have overcome this obstacle.  If you can picture a positive result, you are on your way to overcoming your stress. When you shift from a problems orientation to a results outlook, the process of getting to your goal is less stressful.

Fuel and rest your body.

Drink some water. Your body and brain do not work well when you are dehydrated. Eat a snack, a good lunch to cope with stress. Low blood sugar will interfere with your body’s ability to run efficiently.  Don’t neglect nutrition, hydration or to get an adequate amount of sleep.  A worn-out body is less able to cope with stress.  Avoid high sugar snacks and heavy meals, both of which can result in a temporary boost of energy followed by a deep crash.

Want to sign up for my mailing list?

Get the latest updates on my books, due out later this year by signing up for my newsletter. Newsletter subscribers will also be notified about live training opportunities and free or discounted books. Sign up here – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings, and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books