Thought for the Week

Timothy D. Stein, MFT, CSAT
September 17, 2018

“He uses common sense to judge not the intentions of an action but its consequence. He takes responsibility for everything he does, even if he has to pay a high price for his mistakes.” –Paulo Coelho

In recovery, we aim for acceptance of others and responsibility for our actions.  Acceptance of others’ intentions is an important gift for us to offer regardless of whether it is given to us in return.  Doing our best to accept the intention of others is one way we slowly make amends for the damage we have done in our addiction.  Likewise, accepting responsibility for the consequences (not necessarily the intention) of our actions is another way we continually make amends.  Sometimes this feels unfair until we step back and weigh the lengthy and significant impact of our addiction against the relatively recent changes in our recovery.  With time, perhaps our debt will be forgiven by those close to us.

When have I self righteously judged others?  When have I cried foul when my actions, not my intent, were judged?  What gifts await me as I accept the intentions of others and take responsibility for my actions?

Thought for the Week

Timothy D. Stein, MFT, CSAT
September 10, 2018

Judgement is not the problem. Judgement without empathy is the problem.

Judgement with empathy and without empathy are two very different things.  With empathy, we judge the behavior or actions in order to create positive change.  With empathy, we attempt to understand another’s characteristics and how they came to be.  We still appropriately hold boundaries around the behaviors, choices, or characteristics of others.  However, with empathy, we also accept their imperfections and hold onto their humanity.  Without empathy, the person and the behavior are viewed as one and the same.  Without empathy, our sense of humanity is lost.

When have I judged myself or others without empathy?  What have the consequences of this been?  What gifts await me as I embrace empathy while in judgement?

Thought for the Week

Timothy D. Stein, MFT, CSAT
September 3, 2018

Sobriety is about what you don’t do. Recovery is about what you do.

Some people think of sobriety and recovery as the same thing.  This is simply not true.  Sobriety is about what you don’t do.  You don’t drink, or gamble, or look at porn, or take drugs, or whatever your addictive behavior may be.  You can be successfully sober and your life can still be in chaos.   Unlike sobriety, recovery is about what you do.  Acknowledging your mistakes.  Making amends.  Balancing family and work life.  Meditating.  Connecting with and trusting your higher power.  Sobriety rarely resolves chaos.  Recovery always does.

When have I focused on “not doing” and ignored the “doing” part?   When has my life been in chaos even though I was successfully sober?  What gifts await me as I continue to hold my sobriety boundaries and actively “do” recovery?

Thought for the Week

Timothy D. Stein, MFT, CSAT
August 27, 2018

“Life is slippery, here, take my hand.” –H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Life is slippery.  This is true for everyone.  It is doubly true for addicts and their partners.  We need a hand.  Thankfully, there are people willing to reach out to us.  They are in twelve step meetings, partner support groups, therapy offices, and many other places.  Recovery works better and healing is easier when we take the hands offered to us by others.

In what ways is my life slippery?  Have I accepted the help of others?  What gifts await me as I take the hands of those around me?

Thought for the Week

Timothy D. Stein, MFT, CSAT
August 20, 2018

An old, wise fish swims past two young fish and asks “How’s the water?” “Fine,” they reply. A minute later one of the young fish asks the other, “What is water?”

When we are constantly surrounded by something, we don’t notice it.  Active addicts often have no idea their behaviors or interactions are inappropriate or outside of the norm.  Having constantly been surrounded by addictive thoughts and energy, addicts do not realize that other people experience life differently.  Addicts typically need someone else to point out their addiction.  Sometimes this is a wise mentor who shows us what we are missing.  Sometimes this is an angry spouse who throws us out of the “fish tank.”  Either way, recognizing what we have been oblivious to is one of the first steps to change.

What did I not see before because it has always been a part of my addiction?  What are others now trying to point out to me that I have ignored or dismissed?  What gifts await me as I learn to recognize the subtleties of my addiction?

Thought for the Week

Timothy D. Stein, MFT, CSAT
August 13, 2018

The Golden Rule was written by a narcissist.

“Do unto other as you would have them do unto you.” The Golden Rule sounds good but does not always work.  It is narcissistic of us to assume others want the same things we do.  Therefore, it is a narcissistic act to give others what we would want.  It is important to consider the desires and experiences of others.  It is effective to ask others what THEY want and follow that course.  Or, if we are unable to ask, it is better to consider what we know about THEM and give our best guess what THEY might want.  Either way, the focus should be on what THEY would have us do.  A better Golden Rule is “Do unto others as THEY would have you do unto THEM.”

When have others not wanted the same things I did?  Have I consistently taken this into consideration?  What gifts await me as I work on giving others what they want?

Thought for the Week

Timothy D. Stein, MFT, CSAT
August 6, 2018

“A Jew can be Jewish with God, against God, but not without God.” –Elie Wiesel

Spirituality does not mean we like everything we receive.  We can be angry.  We can believe our situation is completely unfair.  We can believe our higher power is doing a crappy job.  We can shake our fist at the sky in frustration.  None of this takes away from our spirituality.  Anger and spirituality can co-exist.  Walking with our higher power does not mean we like the path or the journey.  It simply means we accept it is the path our higher power has chosen for us.

When have I been angry with my higher power?  Have I let go of my spirituality?  What gifts await me if I allow myself to be with my higher power even when I dislike the path?

Thought for the Week

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

Sometimes you just have to say “I am currently under construction. Thank you for your patience.” -unknown

We are not perfect.  We never have been and never will be.  We are perpetually “under construction.”  This can be trying for us but at least we get to view the entire project and can see the progress.  Unfortunately, others sometimes bump into our unfinished parts and experience the chaos of our construction project.  Explaining the potential benefits of our personal project does little to lessen the impact.  Sometimes we just have to swallow our pride, apologize, and ask for patience.

When have others been impacted by me being a “work in progress?” How did I respond?  What gifts await me as I accept my imperfect progress and apologize for the inconvenience?

Thought for the Week

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

“I’ve never seen any life transformation that didn’t begin with the person in question finally getting tired of their own bullshit.” –Elizabeth Gilbert

When our lives and situations are full of obvious and potential problems, we get good at bullshit.  We bullshit others and tell them they have nothing to worry about.  We bullshit those close to us and say we have everything under control and would never allow anything bad to happen to them.  We bullshit ourselves and pretend we can maneuver our way out of the consequences.  Sometimes our bullshit is convincing but the consequences always show up, one way or another.   As long as we embrace our bullshit, nothing changes.

What does it look like when I bullshit others?  What does it look like when I bullshit myself?  Am I tired of my bullshit yet?  What gifts await me as I acknowledge my bullshit and look for other options?

Thought for the Week

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

“If the highest aim of a captain were to preserve his ship, he would keep it in port forever.” – Thomas Aquinas

Life does not happen without risk.  When we put our energy into maintaining safety at all costs, we miss the point of life.  Sometimes, regardless of experience or preparation, we lose the ship.  That is the risk of exploration and growth.  On the other hand, if we have no “sailing experience,” we would be foolish to venture out of port on our own.  There is a balance.  A captain takes risks because she has the experience to judge a situation and address it appropriately.  A “landlubber” is better served by hiring a captain until he gains more experience and knowledge about how to navigate those particular waters.

When have I “stayed in port?”  When have I sailed beyond my experience or skill?  What have the consequences been?  What gifts await me as I journey forward taking appropriate risks?