Posted by: realisticrecovery | January 5, 2014

New Link: Procrastinators Anonymous

New Link: Procrastinators Anonymous (Procrastination is the grave in which opportunity is buried.)

I finally got around to adding this link on the “Useful Links” page, seriously, no joke intended.- Mike H – is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength and hope with each other that they may solve their common problem and help others to recover from chronic procrastination.

P.A. Tools for Recovery
  1. Break It Down: Break down projects into specific action steps; include preparation tasks in the breakdown.
  1. Visualization: Plan what to do, then imagine yourself doing it. The more specific and vivid your visualization, the better. See yourself doing the task, and doing it well.
  1. Ask Yourself Why: While you are visualizing doing the task, see if you can detect what it is about the task that feels odious to you, what uncomfortable feeling you are avoiding. Knowing what’s behind the avoidance can help you get past it – for example, address real problems or ignore irrational fears.
  1. Focus on Long-Term Consequences: Procrastinators have a tendency to focus on short-term pleasure, and shut out awareness of long-term consequences. Remind yourself how panicked and awful you’ll feel if the task isn’t done, then imagine how good it will feel when the task is finished.
  1. Avoid Time Bingeing: One reason procrastinators dread starting is that once they start they don’t let themselves stop. Plan to work on a task for a defined period of time, then set a timer. When the timer goes off, you’re done.
  1. Use Small Blocks of Time: Procrastinators often have trouble doing tasks in incremental steps, and wait for big blocks of time that never come. When you have small blocks of time, use them to work on the task at hand.
  1. Avoid Perfectionism: Procrastinators have a tendency to spend more time on a task than it warrants, so tasks that should be quick to do take an agonizingly long time. Notice this tendency and stop yourself. Some things require completion, not perfection.
  1. Keep a Time Log: Increase your awareness of time by logging what you are doing throughout the day. This is a great diagnostic tool for discovering where your time went, and an excellent way to become better at estimating how long tasks take.
  1. Develop Routines: To help structure your day and make a habit of things you always need to do, develop routines for what you do when you wake up, regular tasks of your workday, and what you need to do before going to bed.
  2. Bookend Tasks and Time: Use the Bookending board on the P.A. Web site to check in throughout the day, or at the beginning or end of specific tasks you are dreading. Details are at the top of the Bookending board (

Please visit for more info!



Posted by: realisticrecovery | January 5, 2014

Video: The Chemistry of Addiction

Video: The Chemistry of Addiction

Published on Nov 18, 2012

This video from SciShow (on YouTube) describes how our brains respond biochemically to various addictive substances and behaviors and where those responses have come from, evolutionarily speaking.

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Posted by: realisticrecovery | October 13, 2013

Eating a Healthy Diet in Recovery

Eating a Healthy Diet in Recovery

by Kelly McClanahan from Addiction Recovery Basics

Most people vow to eat better, exercise more, be generally healthier when ushering a new year. Eating healthily is especially important for recovering addicts. However, recovery is fraught with opportunities to shift addictions from one unhealthy lifestyle choice to another, and due to the nature of the addictive personality, many recover from drug and alcohol addiction and begin to participate in other addictive practices and behaviors, setting themselves up for another crash and burn into yet another 12-Step experience.

Food is an essential element of life. Many addicts have some kind of eating addiction or disorder. While they may continue to participate in the addictive patterns, they are courting disaster with relapse by practicing that particular addiction. They may revert back to drug/alcohol use to substitute for food and/or sugar, depending on which type of eating disorder or addiction they may have.

Then there are those who use certain types of drugs that seem to have a strong correlation with sugar consumption, usually those addicted to opioids or narcotic pain medications. Alcohol is made from fermented fruit, and primarily consists of sugar, which is addictive. Therefore, many who quit drinking or drugging are prone to switching to consumption of vast amounts of sugar. What little liver and pancreatic damage already done to their bodies by their addiction is exacerbated by overconsumption of processed sugar.

Learning to eat healthier foods is a process that will take time in recovery. Most addicts are not aware of the feeling that a healthy diet versus an unhealthy diet will produce for their bodies. They have skipped meals, used drugs or alcohol in lieu of meals, and generally ignored their physical health to the point of malnutrition. Most addicts in early recovery, even those who present with obesity, are undernourished and suffering from malnutrition. It will take time for them to regain dietary health.

Beginning with including more fresh fruits and vegetables in their diets is important, because that is the fastest way to regain lost energy and stamina. Eating an apple instead of a doughnut is a good way to restore vitality and health to a depleted and suffering immune system and sluggish digestive tract. Learning how to eat balanced meals, with appropriate amounts of lean protein, heavy focus on healthy, complex carbohydrates, and only a tiny bit of good fats is a great way to kick-start recovery. Snacking on healthful fruits instead of sugary and fatty sweets or fried treats is very important, as these will convert to sugar and increase their chances for a fatty liver or diabetes, two risks most addicts have already increased in likelihood by their drinking/using behaviors. To help their liver, kidneys, and pancreas heal, it is necessary to begin to feed the body good foods that will help them heal.

Coffee is another addiction that many addicts participate in heavily. While there is a balance that is healthful and appropriate with caffeine and carbonated drinks, it is important to replace some of those with filtered water and teas that do not tax the kidneys so heavily. Cleansing the system with lots of water is important, as well, to help remove the toxins that have accumulated throughout their addictive behavior. All in all, a healthy diet and beverage regimen will pay off in rich rewards for the person who practices it with glowing good health and a surplus of clean, vibrant energy.

Kelly McClanahan has an MSW in clinical social work, with a specialization in substance abuse treatment. Having worked in this field for over 20 years, she is currently working on her certification as an addictions’ counselor.

original source: Addiction Recovery Basics (

Posted by: realisticrecovery | October 13, 2013

Am I a Food Addict?

Am I a Food Addict?
To find out, answer the following questions as honestly as you can.

  1. Have you ever wanted to stop eating and found you just couldn’t?
  2. Do you think about food or your weight constantly?
  3. Do you find yourself attempting one diet or food plan after another, with no lasting success?
  4. Do you binge and then “get rid of the binge” through vomiting, exercise, laxatives, or other forms of purging?
  5. Do you eat differently in private than you do in front of other people?
  6. Has a doctor or family member ever approached you with concern about your eating habits or weight?
  7. Do you eat large quantities of food at one time (binge)?
  8. Is your weight problem due to your “nibbling” all day long?
  9. Do you eat to escape from your feelings?
  10. Do you eat when you’re not hungry?
  11. Have you ever discarded food, only to retrieve and eat it later?
  12. Do you eat in secret?
  13. Do you fast or severely restrict your food intake?
  14. Have you ever stolen other people’s food?
  15. Have you ever hidden food to make sure you have “enough”?
  16. Do you feel driven to exercise excessively to control your weight?
  17. Do you obsessively calculate the calories you’ve burned against the calories you’ve eaten?
  18. Do you frequently feel guilty or ashamed about what you’ve eaten?
  19. Are you waiting for your life to begin “when you lose the weight”?
  20. Do you feel hopeless about your relationship with food?

If you answered yes to any of the above questions, then you may be a food addict. You are not alone. FA offers hope through a real solution to food addiction. – Food Addicts in Recovery Anonymous – FA is a 12-step program of recovery for people who suffer from overeating, under eating, bulimia, or obsession with food or body size.  There are no dues or fees, and meetings are open to anyone who wants to stop eating addictively.

Posted by: realisticrecovery | August 14, 2012

How to Start Meditating

How to Start Meditating
By Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S.

Meditation doesn’t require making big life changes.

Meditation doesn’t require changing the way you eat. It doesn’t require changing your religion. And it doesn’t require ditching alcohol or becoming celibate, said Tobin Blake, meditation teacher and author of Everyday Meditation: 100 Daily Meditations for Health, Stress Relief, and Everyday Joy.

All you need is a few minutes out of your day. “Meditation can be the simplest of practices,” he said. “Meditation generally focuses on releasing thoughts about the past and future and becoming grounded in the present moment.”

Below, Blake offered his tips for starting to practice meditation.

1. View meditation as a simple relaxation technique.

Meditation is an opportunity to release everything that’s stressing and irritating you, Blake said. “[This is] not another chore, but something for you; [you’re] investing in yourself and your own peace of mind.”

So meditation is simply “sitting down, closing your eyes and intentionally relaxing,” Blake said, adding that you can start with as little as three to five minutes twice a day. Eventually you can work your way up to 20 minutes.

Don’t worry if 2.5 minutes of your 3-minute meditation is spent feeling restless and distracted by surrounding sounds, Blake said — feeling relaxed for just 30 seconds is still a powerful thing “that reshapes our thinking.”

2. Choose a particular style.

Blake doesn’t use any particular meditation technique, although he believes beginners can benefit from one. For instance, he suggested a simple mantra meditation that uses one word, such as “peace,” “joy,” “soft,” “light,” or “God.”

Blake also suggests finding a comfortable spot to sit; sitting up (it keeps you alert); taking several deep breaths; and intentionally relaxing your body by tensing and relaxing your muscles. After you feel relaxed, on your next inhalation, breathe normally and repeat the word “peace” either aloud or silently. Then repeat the word as you exhale.

If you’re a visual person, focus on an image as you’re meditating, such as watching ocean waves go in and out.

The goal is to pick a practice that “relaxes you enough to the point you feel that inner click.”

3. Schedule it.

Schedule your meditation practice so you’re consistent about it, Blake said. “Make a firm commitment from the outset.” Many people think they’re too busy to practice. But, as Blake said, “If you can’t spare 3 minutes a day, you need to make big changes to your life.”

4. Don’t resist your thoughts.

Many people get upset with their monkey minds. But “your thoughts are a part of this experience,” Blake said. He likened it to a body builder doing bicep curls. They don’t curl just once. As they curl a dumbbell their muscle flexes; as they uncurl, their muscle relaxes. “It’s natural during meditation to go deep into the practice and then get back to the ordinary thinking process,” he said.

Acknowledge your busy brain, and let your thoughts come and go, Blake said. “Meditation is more about introducing peaceful thoughts into your thinking,” he said.

Also, this is why starting with a short practice is a good idea. At first, it’s much easier to focus for five minutes than for 15.

5. Reprogram your thoughts.

It’s hard to meditate when negative thoughts bombard your brain. Blake teaches his students to reprogram their thoughts by using positive, affirming phrases. Such sentences “give you a place to refocus and calm your thinking, free from judgment,” he said. You can use sentences that are meaningful to you from books, poems or even something you’ve seen on TV, he said. “Use words that will reinforce happiness in you.”

He gave the following examples:

I love who I am.
I love the people in my life.
I am strong.
I am healthy.
I am beautiful.
I am well.

Repeat these sentences during your meditation, he said. Repeat them anytime you feel the opposite of that affirmation, he said. Or better yet, repeat them every hour, Blake said.

Blake never leaves his house without spending a few minutes becoming aware of his thoughts and deciding the type of day he’d like to have.

For more information on meditation and Tobin Blake’s work, check out his website. (

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Posted by: realisticrecovery | August 14, 2012

How to Recover From Childhood Abandonment & Neglect

How to Recover From Childhood Abandonment & Neglect
By Noreen Wainwright, eHow Contributor

You have managed to survive up until now, having overcome obstacles that other people might have found too much. Therefore, you should be proud of your strength of character. Your experiences have probably even made you a strong person and one who is able to empathize with others. Nevertheless, you may struggle at times with the after-effects of your childhood. This is understandable. It is better for your future if you can manage to think about what happened, deal with your feelings and then move on. It will then be possible for you to have a bright future.


  1.         Allow yourself to feel angry; you have a perfect right to this feeling. Grieve for your lost childhood. You may feel your loss most acutely when you see children and families that seem happy together. However, determine that you are not going to remain stuck with this feeling forever. You are owed happiness and peace of mind, and decide you will do your best to achieve this. Talk to trusted friends about your experience. People who have had a traumatic childhood often keep it a secret. You have no reason to feel shame.
  2.         Seek help. Speak to your physician if you feel low in mood or engage in self-destructive behavior, such as substance or alcohol abuse, or self-harming. Ask your doctor to refer you to an appropriately experienced and qualified counselor or therapist. Talk to this person as much as you can. This will help to bring deep-seated pain to the fore and will enable you to overcome it.
  3.        Find out the reasons for what happened to you, if this is possible and you feel that you can confront it. You may, for instance, discover that your parents were victims of circumstances or were unable to cope with parenthood for some reason. This knowledge may help you. If you can forgive them, it may take some of the intensity out of your pain. If this is not possible, tell yourself that the most important thing is that your whole life is not blighted.

See similar articles at the original source:


Related Article : Bad Childhood Doesn’t Guarantee A Bad Life



Posted by: realisticrecovery | January 28, 2012 : a great self-improvement site

Here’s some great articles from a really great self improvement site I’ve found :

Posted by: realisticrecovery | January 23, 2012

Forgiving Your Parents

Forgiving Your Parents

O, The Oprah Magazine  |  From the May 2003 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine

Forgiving our parents is a core task of adulthood, and one of the most crucial kinds of forgiveness. We see our parents in our mates, in our friends, in our bosses, even in our children. When we’ve felt rejected by a parent and have remained in that state, we will inevitably feel rejected by these important others as well.

But letting our parents off the hook, psychologist Robert Karen says, is the first step toward happiness, self-acceptance and maturity. Here are some thoughts to help the healing begin:

Resolve resentment.
Nursing resentments toward a parent does more than keep that parent in the doghouse. We get stuck there, too, forever the child, the victim, the have-not in the realm of love. Strange as it may seem, a grudge is a kind of clinging, a way of not separating, and when we hold a grudge against a parent, we are clinging not just to the parent, but more specifically to the bad part of the parent. It’s as if we don’t want to live our lives until we have this resolved and feel the security of their unconditional love. We do so for good reasons psychologically. But the result is just the opposite: We stay locked into the badness and we don’t grow up.

Develop realistic expectations.
The sins of parents are among the most difficult to forgive. We expect the world of them, and we do not wish to lower our expectations. Decade after decade, we hold out the hope, often unconsciously, that they will finally do right by us. We want them to own up to all their misdeeds, to apologize, to make heartfelt pleas for our forgiveness. We want our parents to embrace us, to tell us they know we were good children, to undo the favoritism they’ve shown to a brother or sister, to take back their hurtful criticisms, to give us their praise.

Hold on to the good.
Most parents love their children, with surprisingly few exceptions. But no parent is perfect—which means that everyone has childhood wounds. If we’re lucky, our parents were good enough for us to be able to hold on to the knowledge of their love for us and our love for them, even in the face of the things they did that hurt us.

Foster true separation.
To forgive is not to condone the bad things our parents have done. It’s not to deny their selfishness, their rejections, their meanness, their brutality, or any of the other misdeeds, character flaws, or limitations that may attach to them. It is important to separate from our parents—which is to stop seeing ourselves as children who depend on them for our emotional well-being, to stop being their victims, to recognize that we are adults with some capacity to shape our own lives and the responsibility to do so.

Let your parents back into your heart.
When we do that, we can begin to understand the circumstances and limitations they labored under, recognize the goodness in them that our pain has pushed aside, feel some compassion perhaps, not only for the hard journey they had but also for the pain we have caused them.

Commit to the journey.
Getting to a forgiving place, finding the forgiving self inside us, is a long and complicated journey. We have to be ready to forgive. We have to want to forgive. The deeper the wound, the more difficult the process—which makes forgiving parents especially hard. Along the way, we may have to express our protest, we may have to be angry and resentful, we may even have to punish our parents by holding a grudge. But when we get there, the forgiveness we achieve will be a forgiveness worth having.

For further information/related articles, please continue to :

Posted by: realisticrecovery | January 23, 2012

The First Step in Buddhism and Recovery Is Letting Go

One Blog at a Time: The First Step in Buddhism and Recovery Is Letting Go

found on Huffington Post by Kevin Griffin, Author of One Breath at a Time: Buddhism and the Twelve Steps’

A monthly exploration of addiction and recovery through the lens of Buddhism.

Step One: Powerless

“We admitted we were powerless over alcohol [drugs, food, sex, etc.], that our lives had become unmanageable.”

People often tell me that they have trouble with the word “powerless” in the first of the 12 Steps. They’ll say, “I’m not powerless; there are lots of things I can do. ” They think they’re being told that they are helpless victims of their addiction. Others tell me that they think it makes for a victim mentality that pervades 12 Step programs.

The language of the Steps is often difficult to take in. There is the simple fact that language has changed a great deal since the Steps were written in the 1930s. But I also think that the founders of AA who wrote the 12 Steps were intentionally using somewhat extreme language to get our attention. If they’d said, “We admitted alcohol was a problem for us,” or even “We admitted we couldn’t control our use of alcohol,” it might have been more accurate, but it wouldn’t have had the same impact as saying “We admitted we were powerless over alcohol.” Questions of style aside, though, what these early members of AA found was that the best time to approach someone about their drinking problem was when they were at their lowest — hungover or at the end of a bender. Whether they were literally powerless or not wasn’t the point. That’s how it felt. And the admission of powerlessness leads to the response that the program is trying to evoke: surrender.

This struggle with the word powerless is often just the first of many complaints about the language of the Steps. And underneath the complaints is often just a desire to avoid the real issue: your problem with alcohol, drugs, food, sex or some other addiction. Focusing on the minutiae of the 12 Step language lets you sidestep the larger issue. This is why, ultimately, I’m not that interested in debating the language of the Steps. What I want to get at is the process that the Steps are pointing to.

Obviously the Steps were designed to help people stop their addiction and stay stopped. But I think that their underlying structure is based on a broader template for spiritual transformation. The function of the first Step then is more than just telling us we have a problem with addiction. It is the realization that the whole premise of our pleasure-seeking lives is flawed. Another classic template for spiritual transformation makes this same statement: the Buddha’s Four Noble Truths.

The Buddha starts his teaching with the recognition of all the ways that life is challenging, physically and mentally: that we’re often stuck with what we don’t want or wishing we had something else; that we inevitably get old and sick and die. Just like Step One, he’s trying to get us to see past the surface to what’s really going on. The starting point of both paths, then, is to see the truth: in 12 Step terms, to come out of denial; in Buddhist terms, to shed delusion. To begin on any spiritual path, and to deal with the destructive power of addiction, we have to be honest with ourselves.

For the addict or alcoholic this honesty is about admitting, as the Step says, that we have a problem, that our life isn’t working. For the Buddhist, this honesty is about recognizing that the way we have been approaching life is unrealistic. Until we come to this point, called “Right View” in Buddhism and “a moment of clarity” in AA, there’s no chance that we will change. As long as we believe that pleasure-seeking and acquisition are the way to happiness, and that all we have to do is get better at acquiring and holding on to things, we will never resolve the real problem. That’s because, as the Buddha tells us, what’s actually causing suffering is the very attempts to control and acquire, our craving and clinging. He points out that, since everything is constantly changing, there’s nothing that we can actually control or hold on to. His strategy, then, is to let go, to surrender — exactly the solution offered by the 12 Steps.

And this all starts with the honest recognition of how things work. When Step One says we are powerless, this is the idea that’s we’re being encouraged to see, that our attempt to create a perfect world out of imperfect parts is doomed to fail. We have to see what is happening: that drinking and using by their very nature cannot bring happiness, that pursuing pleasure is not a life strategy, and that surrendering to the truth and abandoning our addiction, though painful at first, is actually the beginning of the path to recovery, happiness and spiritual transformation.

Exercise: The Cause of Suffering

Begin by sitting quietly for a few minutes. Try to consciously relax the body, and just be aware of your breathing. Once you’ve settled a bit, ask yourself “What am I holding on to that is causing me suffering?” This might be anything from an object, to a behavior, to a relationship. It might involve substances like drugs or food; it might involve a viewpoint or opinion that causes us problems at work or at home; it might be about some loss we’ve suffered. There may be multiple things you are holding on to. Once you have a sense of what these things are, ask yourself, “What would happen if I simply let go?” What if I let go of the behavior or the opinion or the grief?

Sometimes simply seeing the problem is enough to inspire us to let go. For many things, though, it’s a process, and that’s what the rest of the 12 Steps are meant to help us with.

original source: (

Posted by: realisticrecovery | September 17, 2011

Agnostic 12 Steps – from Toronto’s first Agnostic AA Meeting Group

Agnostic 12 Steps – from Toronto’s first Agnostic AA Meeting Group – Beyond Belief

(Here are the steps as adapted from the original AA 12 Steps in order to better suit the beliefs of the Beyond Belief Group in Toronto – originally found on their blog from Toronto – – Mike H.)

1.           We admitted we were powerless over alcohol – that our lives had become unmanageable.

2.           Came to accept and to understand that we needed strengths beyond our awareness and resources to restore us to sanity.

3.           Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of the A.A. program.

4.           Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

5.           Admitted to ourselves without reservation, and to another human being, the exact nature of our wrongs.

6.           Were ready to accept help in letting go of all our defects of character.

7.           Humbly sought to have our shortcomings removed.

8.           Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.

9.           Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

10.        Continued to take personal inventory, and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.

11.        Sought through mindful inquiry and meditation to improve our spiritual awareness, seeking only for knowledge of our rightful path in life and the power to carry that out.

12.        Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

(The following is a  brief “edited” essay and explanation of the writing and purpose of the adapted steps,please see the full essay here: – Mike H)

It would be disengenuous to say that the decision to change the wording of some of the steps was a hard one to make. Hardly an alcoholic (other than Bill W.) has not expressed a desire to rewrite the program’s core literature to suit his or her own tastes at some point. We have among us, though, enough sober thought to have come to the realisation that the steps are the core of the program, and that it is crucial that they remain unchanged in their essense if they are to remain effective. There are many “godless” versions of the steps floating around, and the majority of them are poor paraphrases at best, and weakened to the point of meaninglessness at worst. Our group conscience tells us that the steps need to be made more accessible to everyone who needs them, but that the wording and character of the steps must remain as close to the original as possible. Six of the steps—those that make no reference to a deity—remain untouched in our version. We sincerely hope that we have managed to find an accurate spiritual and psychological mapping between our version of the remaining six steps and the original versions of those steps. Some of these are still in flux; we have a “close enough for now” version, but feel we haven’t quite hit the nail quite squarely on the head yet.

And for anyone who is interested, steps three, seven and eleven — particularly eleven — were (and are) the really sticky bits. Each can be restated in a manner that is not in conflict with anyone’s spiritual beliefs, but it is difficult to do so elegantly and without losing the essential nature of the required action. Step eleven, for example, easily tosses the word “prayer” at us, and that little gem of a word is the poster child for semiotic entanglements. Writing the eleventh step as a medium length article for a magazine is easy; writing it so that it can be read at the opening of a meeting and still leave time for discussion is somewhat less so. Still we try, since if we knowingly leave a barrier between the suffering alcoholic and the ability to perform any one of these steps, we are failing to perform the twelfth step ourselves.

And to those who object to the rewrite on the grounds that we are somehow meddling with scripture, a reminder: not a single one of those who had achieved sobriety at the time the Big Book was written had heard of the Twelve Steps before Bill wrote How It Works, and at least one of the “Holy Hundred” managed to get sober despite being an atheist. Try to keep an open mind, and try not to engage in contempt prior to investigation. None of us has the right to let another die of our own dogmatism.

Agnostic AA Meetings:

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