Thought for the Week

Timothy D. Stein, MFT, CSAT
May 21, 2018

Only God can judge me by my intent.  Everyone else has to judge me by my actions.

How many times have you said “But I didn’t mean for you to get hurt.  You have to believe me.”  No matter how genuine our intent or how fervently we express our intent, that does not change the outcome or the impact on others.  With consistent, trustworthy behavior over time, perhaps those close to us may one day trust our statement of intent.  Until then, they can only judge us by our actions.

When have I hurt people without intending to?  Do I accept their pain and fear or attempt to manipulate them into accepting my intent as reality?  What gifts await me as I focus on my actions and accept that I will be judged on my actions?

Thought for the Week

Timothy D. Stein, MFT, CSAT
May 14, 2018

“Don’t forget, a person’s greatest emotional need is to feel appreciated.” –Zadie Smith

It is important that we express and receive appreciation.  It is also important that we are aware of where we can reasonably look for appreciation.  A sex addict receiving a three-month coin can reasonably expect appreciation for his work and achievement from his recovery community, his therapy group members, his therapist, and perhaps his friends.  His partner, who often experiences this as three months since they were sexually betrayed, may not be able to express appreciation.  However, it can support the partner’s healing if the addict is able to express appreciation for the partner staying in the relationship despite the trauma the addiction has caused them.  Appreciation is important.  Give it when you can.  Cherish it when you receive it.

When did I not receive appreciation when I wanted it?  When have I failed to give appreciation when it would have been helpful to others?  What gifts await me as I learn to express appreciation more consistently and accept that some people are able to offer appreciation while others cannot?

Thought for the Week

Timothy D. Stein, MFT, CSAT
May 7, 2018

“The measure of success is not whether you have a tough problem to deal with, but whether it is the same problem you had last year.” –John Foster Dulles

Life is complicated and we are human.  Problems will happen.  Some of them will be simple and some will be more challenging.  This is true in recovery as well.  Having a problem in recovery is not really as issue if you acknowledge it and address it.  It is an issue when the problem you have is one that shows up again and again.  Recovery grows and strengthens when we deal with our problems.  Conversely, recovery stagnates when we ignore or superficially fix our problems and, therefore, the same problems come back “next year” with a vengeance.

What problems have I experienced time and again?  Why do these problems keep coming back?  What gifts await me as I acknowledge and truly resolve my problems?

Thought for the Week

Timothy D. Stein, MFT, CSAT
April 30, 2018

“The wound is where the light enters you.” –Rumi

Are you wounded?  Yes. You are.  We are all wounded.  The more important question is whether or not you acknowledge and try to heal your wounds?  When we ignore our emotional wounds, they fester and the emotional infections come out in our behaviors and interactions with others.  We have all seen damage done by individuals who do not like themselves, do not believe they deserve good things, or automatically place themselves above or below others.  These are examples of emotional wounds being expressed.  However, acknowledging our emotional wounds (which can be scary) and addressing our emotional wounds (which can be painful) allows for healing, not just of ourselves but for those around us as well.  Sometimes this healing comes from a direct action, such as making amends to others for our past behavior.  Sometimes this healing comes from indirect actions, such as modeling (often unintentionally) healthy behaviors and interactions that may guide others as they address their own wounds and the challenges these wounds have created in their lives.

When have I denied my emotional wounds?  What has been the cost to myself and others?  What gifts await me as I acknowledge and try to heal my wounds?

Thought for the Week

Timothy D. Stein, MFT, CSAT
April 23, 2018

Recovery is not blazing a trail alone.  On the contrary, it is walking a well-worn path with peers all supporting each other while traveling to the same destination.

Blazing a trail has its time and place.  Recovery is not one of them.  Addicts who try to invent a new wheel often do themselves and those around them more harm than good.  While it is true that every recovery program is, to some extent, unique, it is also true that a good recovery program is a variation on a proven theme.  Those who succeed in recovery take advantage not only of the knowledge and wisdom of their peers but also of the knowledge and wisdom of those who have gone before them.  Embrace the collective wisdom of others who have walked the path before you and recovery will be more successful.

When have I tried to do things my own way in recovery?  What has been the result?  What gifts await me as I walk the well-worn path?

Thought for the Week

Timothy D. Stein, MFT, CSAT
April 16, 2018

You are a loaded moving van, not a sports car.

Addiction is a brain disorder expressed through behavior.  Understanding the neurology of addiction helps us to understand some of the behavioral struggles.  When a brain has been modified (by neuroplasticity) by addiction, two of the affected areas in the brain deal with “boundaries” and “brakes.”  The area of the brain that has to do with desire is hyped up causing addicts to desire the addictive behavior or substance more strongly than non addicts.  This affects the addict’s ability to hold boundaries.  Also, the area of the brain that manages containing behaviors (braking) is impacted.  The addict brain wants to function like a sports car while, in reality, it functions like a loaded moving van.  When addicts make decisions based on the control and braking limitations of a loaded moving van, they get better results.

When have I assumed I could direct and contain my behavior?  How did this work out for me?  What gifts await me by accepting that I currently function like a “loaded moving van?”

Thought for the Week

Timothy D. Stein, MFT, CSAT
April 9, 2018

“One doesn’t have to operate with great malice to do great harm.  The absence of empathy and understanding are sufficient.” –Charles M. Blow

How many times have you said “It was not my intention for them to get hurt.”  That statement may be true and yet others suffered great harm all the same.  We cannot perfectly ensure others will not be harmed by our actions but we can minimize the possibility.  When we embrace empathy for others and attempt to understand their perspective and experience, we lessen the chance of doing great harm.  As addicts in recovery, we benefit from having a recovery community that can help us to explore the experiences of others and develop empathy.

When have I unintentionally harmed others?  When have I acted without empathy?  What gifts await me as I embrace empathy and understanding for others?

Thought for the Week

Timothy D. Stein, MFT, CSAT
April 2, 2018

“The good thing about principles is that they make life easy.  I have heard it said that when someone bases his life on principles, 99 percent of his decisions are already made.” –Dave Ramsey

What guides me in my decisions?  For many addicts it is avoiding pain or emotional discomfort.  This is hardly a life principle.  Luckily, recovery offers many principles to live by:  rigorous honesty, do the next right thing, I am always responsible for what I have done, continue to take personal inventory and when wrong promptly admit it, etc.  Living by these principles does not mean we will always be comfortable or that things will always work out the way we want.  It does mean that we are creating a foundation for our future and are avoiding the harm created by short-sighted thinking.

What has guided my decisions in life?  How has this worked for me?  What gifts await me as I embrace principles and allow them to guide my decisions?

Thought for the Week

Timothy D. Stein, MFT, CSAT
March 26, 2018

“Even the strongest and bravest must sometimes weep.  It shows they have a great heart, one that can feel compassion for others.” –Brian Jacques

“Boys don’t cry.”  “Real men don’t cry.”  These expectations of masculinity have been unhelpful and even harmful because they imply that masculinity is defined by not feeling.  On the contrary, a real man feels fear and pain and faces difficult, frightening, overwhelming, and sad situations anyway.  A real men feels empathy and compassion and supports others while taking responsibility for his part.  A real man does not stuff his emotions and ignore his heart.  A real man has a real heart and acts in concert with it.

When have I stuffed or ignored my emotions?  Why do I avoid my emotions?  What has my heart been trying to tell me? What gifts await me as I open myself to my emotional experiences?

Thought for the Week

Timothy D. Stein, MFT, CSAT
March 19, 2018

“I’ve cut it twice and it’s still too short.” –Unknown

When things aren’t working, we want to take action.  However, taking action and finding a solution can be two very different things.  This is true in woodworking, hence the saying “I’ve cut it twice and it’s still too short.”  This is also true in recovery.  Blindly taking action gives us the sense of change but may change very little or, worse, do damage.  Action is important but taking time to think our actions through or to get advice and guidance from others in program is equally, if not more, important.

When have I acted out of impulse or fear? What have been the consequences of this?  What gifts await me as I think my actions through and seek the guidance of others?