Recovery and How to Approach Your Problems in a Whole New Way

Three ways that you can transform your catastrophes

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They lied. It’s not money that makes the world go around. Problems make the world go ’round: Some problems are real and others just feel very real.

Problems make the world go around?

  • Creating solutions to problems drives business growth. Starbucks has solved your caffeine problem.
  • Problems can make you grow.
  • Solving math problems, sorting through ethical problems, and problem solving keep your mind young.
  • Problems keep you real. Business as usual in life, and in business, is boring and uninspired. It can drive you into a slump, rob you of creativity and insulate you from reality.

Chaos is uncomfortable and it can be destructive

Sometimes, we will do almost anything to escape feeling uncomfortable: We avoid, we blame other people, we rationalize or deny our behavior, we numb out. And sometimes we create chaos because it feels normal.
When you face problems, the world spins faster. Problems can come at you so fast that it can feel like chaos. Sometimes the problems come from outside of us and other times we create the problems.
Chaos: “K-osis a state of utter confusion or disorder; a total lack of organization or order.
Problems are uncomfortable, stressful and they can make your mind race to places that you don’t want to go. Problems can make you remember your old negative stories. Aaron Beck found that we can engage in thinking patterns that he called a Triad of Negative Beliefs:
1.NEGATIVE VIEW OF YOURSELF and YOUR EXPERIENCES
  • I am incompetent
  • I should have reacted differently
  • Its’ too much to handle
  • I feel damaged
  • Nobody loves me

2.NEGATIVE VIEW OF THE FUTURE

  • Things will never be the same
  • It’s hopeless
  • I will never get over this
  • I will always be a failure

3.NEGATIVE VIEW OF THE WORLD and OTHER PEOPLE

  • Other people cannot be trusted
  • Circumstances will never go my way
  • The world is an unfair place

We live in a problem focused world. Solving problems is how our brains are wired, and it drives the economy. If our problems feel stressful and uncomfortable, we try to get back to comfortable as quickly as we can.

Problems are not the end of your peace, instead they can be the beginning of something good.

Sometimes we will do almost anything to escape feeling uncomfortable: We avoid, we blame other people, we rationalize or deny our behavior, we numb out. And sometimes we create chaos because it feels normal: Chaos can = a good reason to use substances, numb out with food, or dwell in our gloom or negativity.

Chaos 2.0

Chaos is does not have to be destructive. There is another side to chaos, to problems.

Chaos 2.0: “the infinity of space or formless matter supposed to have preceded the existence of the ordered universe.”

When you avoid problems and being uncomfortable, you rob yourself of an opportunity to grow. Ask yourself: “When I don’t have problems to think about, or think about, what occupies my mind? My time?” When we have a window of time without stress or problems, we often have one of two reactions: stare off into space or begin to look around. We can tune out or we become aware. We can go into “coping” mode or we can find a way to thrive.

Turning problems into a creative opportunity is not easy. But you can find a way to view your problems as an invitation. Urges, discomfort and stress are nothing more a normal (and yes, difficult) part of change. Problems are not the end of your peace, instead they can be the beginning of something good. When you feel confused and don’t know what to do next, (or when you face difficult problems, or when the problems seep into your mind and trigger your negative thoughts…) these things are not catastrophes.

3 Ways to transform your catastrophes

We can be comfortable with catastrophe thinking. Your problems don’t have to be a catastrophe, they can be transformed into an apostrophe.

Apostrophe: a sign of an omission (from cannot to can’t), of ownership (Jane’s car), or plurals/others (the Smith’s).

Catastrophe thinking is destructive, but we can learn to think and live differently. Apostrophe thinking invites better things into your life through omissions, ownership and other people.

You apostrophes are the key to challenging your catastrophes. Catastrophe thinking is destructive, but we can learn to think and live differently. Apostrophe thinking invites better things into your life through omissions, ownership and other people.

The Triad of Positive Beliefs

1.OMISSIONS – An apostrophe intentionally combines two words into a contraction: it removes a few letters and creates a new way to view a situation.

Omitting negative behaviors and draining people from your life can change your life forever. But these decisions can take time before you are ready. Begin small: Accept rather than react and practice telling a new and better story – a story where you are loved, a story with a future where you are more than your addiction, your mental illness or your other problems.

  • I have faced problems like this before and I can do this.
  • I am not damaged goods, my imperfections make me unique. The cracks are how the light can get into the deepest parts of who I am.
  • Stress, pain and problems will pass. I can tolerate stress, urges and discomfort. I choose to care for myself in healthy ways.
  • I forgive myself and I love myself.

2.OWNERSHIP – An apostrophe is a sign of ownership. You may not like your choices, but you can choose to make yourself a little better every day. You can practice, built up your positive tolerance and learn the power of accepting what you can change.

  • I can experience a wide range of feelings and situations. I can manage things, and I will learn how to manage things better. 
  • I made a mistake but I can be better next time.
  • I don’t have to start from the beginning every time I make a mistake. I am stronger and wiser. The most important choice that I have is to choose how I respond.

3.OTHER PEOPLE/THE WORLD AROUND YOU – An apostrophe invites plurality. There is more than one way to think about your life. You can learn to re-frame how you think about yourself, your world and other people. Catastrophe thinking shrinks your world. But apostrophe living makes room for a bigger world, for new experiences and for the possibility of new friendships.

  • Other people or situations cannot “make” me feel a certain way.
  • Circumstances may not go my way, but I can adapt.
  • Setbacks, lapses, being hurt by other people are reminders that life is difficult, but I can grow through this. 
  • Other people may have hurt me, but they are also a resource: I will find allies.

It’s true: Problems make your world go around. But you don’t have to succumb to chaos. You can transform your catastrophes and have a life-story of healing and hope.

If you want to learn more about recovery and how to manage your triggers and cravings, I highly this resource on SMART Recovery.

I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for. The Bible

For more on how to transform how you think about yourself, your recovery or your world:

10 Common Thought Distortions and How to Learn to Change Your Mind

Addiction: A Simple Path

5 Ways to Have a Positive Recovery Mindset in 2017

I write articles about wellness, leadership, parenting and personal growth. My hope is to deliver the best content I can to inspire, to inform and to entertain. Sign up for my blog if you want to receive the latest and best of my writing. If you like what I have to say, please share my work with your friends.

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Keep it Real

Photos by the author. Taken while on a purely personal trip to Disneyland.

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