So far I have been adding pieces of the recovery puzzle that will make your journey easier to understand and achieve. Let’s put all the pieces together. Once you master or fully understand the concept illustrated by the CBT Map at the beginning of this blog and how it relates to the 14 Recovery Themes you will notice that you have discovered how your operating system works.

It all starts with your beliefs/values system. You think about these things. You get what you think about. If you think about using you will eventually use – your addict behavior. Your reticular activating system will get it for you because that is how you are programming it. Garbage in – garbage out, GIGO as the original computer programmers called it.

You’ve been creating disempowering or limiting neural pathways. If you want different results you should do something different. Changing your thinking s not enough. You must explore and resolve your permission-granting, limiting core beliefs before you can expect long lasting change of behavior.

This is a good time to address a basic truth. You will have a very difficult time of it if you keep hanging with the same slippery people in slippery places thinking about or doing slippery things. Yes. This could be your friends, significant other partner (boyfriend, girlfriend, spouse, lover, etc.) and family.

Now, away from all the harmful elements in your life you will get a chance to reprogram your brain and reticular activating system creating new empowering neural pathways. Think about sobriety, recovery and Transcendence.

A few other things that you will need to know and understand is how you navigate or make sense out of your world. Are you visual, auditory or kinesthetic (a see, hear or feel person?)? These are three major senses that we use exploring our realities. Use your primary preferred learning style first to create new images, sounds or feelings.

It’s important too to realize that all behavior has a positive intent and we do things to move away from pain and toward pleasure. The Pain-Pleasure Cycle is the result of how we create our mental or emotional states. We are all capable of changing our emotional state in a flash – in the blink of an eye. Some say instantly.

Try this. Think of a situation that is mildly upsetting. Maybe a 4-5 on a 1-10 scale where 1 is mild and 10 is extreme. Make an image of that situation. See what you see, hear what you hear and feel what you feel. Be in it fully.

Now – with your eyes closed if you can, jump up and down and around turning in a circle and with a smile on your face (you need the smile) say out loud – I’VE GOT A WIENER NOSE AND STINKY FEET! Repeat it. WIENER NOSE AND STINKY FEET! Lol, can you believe it? You changed how you felt in an instant.

What did you learn in this post? Beliefs and values lead to thinking, feelings, emotions and behavior. You know about the 14 Recovery Themes and you know that you have a preferred learning system (VAK) in addition to smell and taste. You learned that you are in control of your thoughts, feelings and emotions. You can change how you feel in an instant.

Now – some people looked at the wiener nose idea and just blew it off without trying it. Why? Because of their beliefs. They believed it was silly or not possible. But that’s the whole point. It starts with your beliefs. If what you are doing isn’t working you must do something different: ANYTHING! More on this in the next post.


One of my major goals and objectives as a counselor has been to help the client create or experience a sensory shift in feelings and emotions regarding his/her identity, beliefs/values, capability, behavior and environment. For those who expressed a strong belief in religion or spirituality I was always wide open to discussing and working in these areas.

The arts, whatever you consider those to be can be very helpful in this area. I was introduced by a dear friend to haiku. This is a wonderful lady from Japan who teaches haiku in Hawaii.

She taught me the basic form of three lines with 5, 7 and 5 syllables in each line. The task was to express feelings and emotions in the here and now.

Daughters come to mind,
my heart fills with joy of them,
thank you transcendence.

This is a simple example of how one would look. It describes how my daughters make me feel and reflects how it was my transcendence from addiction to – it’s as if I never had the problem and there are no triggers, cravings, urges or relapses that made it possible for me to have this experience today. Easily, I could have been dead otherwise.

Clients loved this little exercise that they came to see as a way to create a corrective emotional response. It was very meaningful and had an impact.

Between this exercise and learning about beliefs, values and the power that we have over how we feel clients expressed that they learned that they had power over how they felt. This is so empowering. We will be spending more time on this topic.

To learn more about haiku you can google Yosa Buson or haiku.

This has been Recovery Theme 14. What did you learn from this post? You learned that a worthy goal is to be able to learn to create an “Old You – New You” emotional shift. Especially in the area of identity, values and behavior. You learned that there are simple ways to do this such as the poetry art of haiku. Anything in painting, drawing, music or dance, etc. can do it for us.


The boss wants this when? My partner wants this, wants that and all right now. I’ve got to have that promotion right now. I’ve got to have that money right now.

We overload ourselves. Sometime it is with our language or self-talk. Sometime it is simply the wrong perspective, belief or value. The works of Albert Ellis, (ABC Theory, REBT) and Aaron T. Beck, (CBT) point this out clearly. The CBT Thoory Map which I’ve included shows how this works.

Do you mean I have to stay clean and sober for the rest of my life? Some people, say someone 30 years old, who may have been having a drinking problem as an example, is considering stopping drinking. But they are haunted by the idea that they cannot drink for the next 70 years. Wow! That’s a pretty big order. And he feels overwhelmed.

Well good news again. Calm down. You are blowing this way out of proportion. Your answer, much to your relief is, No! Just for today – drink something else. Water, juice, soda, coffee or whatever are fine.

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) calls this “one day at a time.” Or, a baby step. A small chunk.

If you ‘chunk it’ you break down the task into smaller more manageable pieces. Just for this next hour. Just for this morning. Just for today. You get it, don’t you?

Sales people can benefit from this idea. Maybe you have 500 calls to make this week. Wow! It’s a big number. But, the truth is that you are overwhelming yourself with all these gottas and you gotta do it all now. Your only real concern is the call you make right this moment. You really have only one call to make.

You get paid for the noes too. So embrace them. How many noes do you need to get the response that you want? It might be an appointment. It might be a sale. But it’s the big pay day that the small chunk individual calls add up to.

In AA it’s a day at a time. That’s AA’s small chunk method. And it works if you work it. Hey! Isn’t life that way too?

One more thing as long as I mentioned healthier drink substitutes. Coffee seems to be the huge go to beverage in recovery. You know too much caffeine could upset you, make you anxious or disturb your sleep. Watch out for the sugar creep. People who are used to consuming large amounts of alcohol take in huge amounts of sugar. When you stop using alcohol you could find yourself putting more sugar in your coffee, buying a lot of candy for some reason or hanging around the bakery or ice cream shop. Guess how I know. Yep! Because that’s what happened with me. I hit the bakery on the way into  town and the ice cream stand on the way out of town. I still love Milky Way and Snickers but I know they are not good for my A1C, sugar count.

I learned there was a ‘Positive Intent’ behind my new behavior. It was to replace the sugar that my body was not getting from the alcohol. So you see, there could be a positive intent behind behavior that is not good for you or might even be illegal.

Let’s stop beating up ourselves with the negative self-talk or blaming ourselves for eating too much of this or drinking too much that. There has been a positive intent. Usually it has something to do with moving toward pleasure or feeling better about ourselves or X. We tend to move away from pain and toward pleasure.

We self-medicate with the drugs of choice to feel better or different. Yes – alcohol is a drug. And, a drug, is a drug, is a drug.

What did you learn from this post? You learned about Recovery Themes 12 and 13 in this post. Chunking will make your life easier no matter what you are dealing with. Understanding Positive Intent and self-medicating is huge. But, it’s not an excuse for continuing harmful or illegal behavior.

Now it’s time to decide what you are going to do about your problem – and how.


There’s no such thing as failure. If you are not getting the results you want with your sobriety, recovery, relationships or work you are receiving feedback. What you are doing is not working. Maybe you should try something else: Anything Else.

As you learned in the last post, perspective is everything. When you moved an unpleasant image farther away it did not feel as bad. You were desensitized. When you moved the pleasant image closer you felt better.

You can use your five senses to help you get the outcomes you desire. Especially the visual, auditory and kinesthetic (the see, hear and feel) senses.

Make a picture of you ‘over there’, maybe across the room or even across the street. Analyze that person just like he/she were someone else. What is he trying  to do? What do you see going wrong? Correct the error. Maybe it is just adding a resource like confidence, just being able to ‘say no’ to slippery people, places and things. This is called a refusal skill.

When you can strengthen or add refusal skills you increase your chances of staying clean and sober, staying out of trouble or just being more successful in general.

Try this. Give that person over there the strength of confidence. See that person chin up with his head held high, feeling great that he could finally say No! to those people who have always dragged him down. You know – some people just don’t want you to get better or healthy. They will enable your drinking or using.

They’re called enablers and they are not your friends even if they are family or other loved ones. Sometimes your marital partner or significant other does not want you to heal. You are too much of a threat. It would mean they too may have to clean up, get sober or whatever term you choose.

Look at that person over there again. Ask him, how does it feel being able to ‘just say No? You can see how it looks. You can hear how great it sounds. How does that feel to you? If you like that person and that feeling just step into that image now. Because, it’s you isn’t it?

Put your arms around the New You. Pull him in. Own it. If you need to make the image even more effective try making it bigger, brighter, warmer and hear a soothing sigh of relief. You see, hear and feel the New You.

So you see, there is no such thing as failure. It’s feedback. And, you do have the resources within you already, don’t you? They are your five senses. And you can use them to give you great power. The power that is already locked up inside you. Set it free. Awaken the strengths and resources you already have as Carl Rogers mentioned. This has been Recovery Theme 11.