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Forgiveness: A Gift We Can Offer Ourselves
Topic at a glance:
  • Is forgiveness a sign of weakness? Does it mean becoming a doormat?
  • Why would we forgive people who have hurt and abused us?
  • Letting go of the past is easier said than done. How can we learn to forgive?
Forgiveness Isn’t a Sign of Weakness

I haven’t always been a fan of forgiveness. The mere mention of this word used to grate on my nerves. It felt like such a weak response to being wronged. So, let me get this straight, I’m supposed to give those who hurt me a free pass? That’s never going to happen.

Even worse, was when people would tell me to ‘forgive myself’. WTF. My standard response to anyone suggesting this was for them to go hug a tree and quit bothering me. What I needed was to stop being such a pathetic failure, so self-forgiveness was the last thing I needed – if anything, I had to be tougher on myself to get my loser-ass moving.

It took many years and a great deal of pain before I realized that forgiveness isn’t a sign of weakness. It is instead a gift we can offer to ourselves.

What is Forgiveness?

Forgiveness isn’t so much something we do as something we realize. It is the recognition that we suffer unnecessarily when we hold on to grudges and resentments. The person who initially wronged us will usually be completely unaware of the turmoil in our head. We alone suffer when we are unable to let go of resentments, and we do it to ourselves.

The inability to forgive keeps us in a relationship with our abusers. We may not have physically seen these people for years, yet they continue to be there in our thoughts. How is this helpful? Forgiveness is the recognition that we have already devoted too much time these people, and we now need to let them go.

Forgiveness Does Not Mean That What Happened Was Okay

The biggest barrier to forgiving other people is the belief that this is the same as saying that what they did was okay. This is not what is meant by forgiveness. It is merely the insight that we have already suffered enough. We all must face the consequences of our actions, and forgiveness doesn’t change this. It just means we stop adding to that initial harm.

Forgiveness doesn’t necessarily mean allowing people who have hurt us back into our lives. It’s not about becoming ‘best friends forever’ with our abusers. There are dangerous people out there, and we would be wise to avoid them, but we don’t have to carry the weight of hating them.

The Key to Forgiveness is Understanding

There was a disturbing video of a dad terrorizing his 7-year old son that went viral here in Thailand a few years ago. At one point, this grown man had his hands around his son’s neck and lifted him off the ground. It was horrible to watch.

My initial reaction, and it seemed to be the common reaction of most people responding on social media, was one of revulsion and anger. For a minute or two, I would have gladly joined a lynch mob to hunt that pathetic excuse for a human being down and string him up.

But then I remembered something…

There but for the Grace of…

When my son first arrived in the world 10 years ago, we didn’t get much sleep. After a few weeks of this, I was walking around like a zombie. Totally exhausted. Then one afternoon, I was alone with my son, and he just wouldn’t stop crying. I felt so helpless, and it was like I was going insane. I adored my son, but for a few seconds, there was an urge to shake him angrily. I didn’t do it, but the urge was there.

This memory helped me realize that happy, well-balanced people don’t go around lifting 7-year old’s up by the neck. This kind of thing happens when our coping strategies are overwhelmed, and we lose the ability to react rationally. Some of us have such poor coping strategies that we are easily overwhelmed, and this means we are more likely to horrible things. This is in no way meant to be an excuse for bad behavior, but this understanding can make it easier to forgive it.

Self-Forgiveness is Not Limited to Tree Huggers

I initially found it much easier to forgive other people that to forgive myself. It didn’t help that guilt about my past behaviour was so much a part of my inner soundtrack that I hardly noticed it anymore. There was also the fear that if I were to forgive myself for past behaviour, it would only encourage me to repeat these mistakes. It turned out it was my misunderstandings about forgiveness that made it seem New-Agey and self-indulgent.

Self-Forgiveness Means Facing Our Dark Side Without Flinching

Self-forgiveness is the ability to face the darkness inside of ourselves without using it as an excuse to beat ourselves up. This takes courage. It becomes easier to do when we recognize that none of us is perfect. As humans, we are subject to be powerful inner drives that can cause us to be selfish, abusive, and highly destructive. Mental health means we can better control these harmful impulses, but these impulses are there in all of us.

Our past bad behavior may seem crazy to us now, but we need to remember that who we are now is not who we were back then. We live and learn. Self-forgiveness is the recognition that we have always tried our best – even when this ‘best’ was horrendously bad. It is easy to behave in a saintly-fashion when things are going our way, but when life becomes a struggle, the more destructive impulses can gain the upper-hand unless we have appropriate coping strategies.

Self-Loathing is a Lousy Motivational Tool

It turned out that repeatedly rubbing my own nose in the manure of my past failures wasn’t such a great motivational tool. Who would have thought it? Rather than fueling self-improvement, the crippling guilt would leave me feeling hopeless and overwhelmed. This negative mental state caused further bad behavior which gave me more things to feel guilty about.

We all fall-down in life, but self-forgiveness is where we stand up and brush ourselves off. It is this that allows us to do better in the future. As I say, we learn from our mistakes and move on. This is far more useful than guilt which keeps us stuck in the past.

Self-Forgiveness is Not a ‘Get Out of Jail Free’ Card

Self-forgiveness means not only admitting to our own fallibility but also accepting the consequences of our bad behavior. We reap what we sow. If there are negative consequences coming our way, we can leave it to life to sort all that out. We don’t need to feel guilty and beat ourselves up. This helps nobody. Self-forgiveness means we can face these consequences gracefully and focus our attention and repairing any damage.

How to Forgive

It is by accepting our own fallible nature that we become able to do the same for other people. We start to see the futility of holding onto resentments, and this makes it easier to let go of them.

One of the practices that people find helpful when learning to forgive is loving-kindness (metta) mediation. This technique helped me let go of a lot of guilt and resentment, so it may be worth giving it a try.

Click on the link to find out more about metta meditation.

If you agree that forgiveness is a gift, you could help us by sharing this post on social media.

Other Topics That Might Interest You
Forgiveness: A Gift We Can Offer Ourselves

Why forgive? We may have valid reasons to feel resentful, but this pattern of thinking only prolongs our pain and keeps us in a relationship with our abusers. So, one good reason for forgiveness is we see that we have already suffered enough. Self-forgiveness means we live and learn rather than punishing ourselves.

Episode 37 – Refuge Recovery – Buddhist Self-Help Group for Addiction Problems

Ever heard of Refuge Recovery? It's a Buddhist self-help group for addiction recovery. Learn more about the benefits of Refuge Recovery, its aims, target audience, usefulness, and why it's definitely worth checking out in our latest podcast episode.

Staying clean and sober on Christmas: The best tips and coping strategies to have brilliant holidays

Tips and coping strategies for a clean & sober Christmas: We provide you with hands-on advice on how to stay strong in your recovery, prevent relapse throughout the holidays, deal with the New Year's blues, and end up having a brilliant time without alcohol or drugs.

Resentments – You Are the Reason My Life Sucks!

People can be assholes, but is holding a resentment the best response? Here are some anecdotes, observations, and tips for better dealing with the assholery of others.

The Stages of Grief – How to Survive a Loss

Grief can be triggered by any type of loss - the toughest one being death. Learn more about the stages of grief, coping strategies, how long grief lasts, obstacles to the grieving process and potential support networks.

A Hands-On Mindfulness Guide to Relapse Prevention

Has this happened to you? You decide to quit in the morning, yet you are back using again by the afternoon? Here are three mindfulness tools that you can use right away, so that next time you make the decision to quit drugs you are able to follow through.

The post Forgiveness: A Gift We Can Offer Ourselves appeared first on Hope Rehab Center Thailand.

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Phuang Malai – The Thai Flower Garland
The topic at a glance
  • What is a Phuang Malai?

  • What is the meaning and purpose of these Thai flower garlands?

  • How to make a Phuang Malai yourself

By Paul G.

Phuang Malai is the local name for a flower garland that you will almost certainly see during your stay in Thailand. This symbol for luck and respect is found everywhere – you will see hanging from the rear-view mirrors in motor vehicles, placed at shrines, and most business premises will have phuang malai (sometimes shortened to simply ‘malai’) hanging around somewhere. These garlands are made from fresh flowers daily, and you will see them on sale at markets, street stalls, and almost any red traffic lights that has a decent amount of traffic (they usually cost 20 THB).

Meaning of Phuang Malai

In Thai, the word phuang means a ‘string’ or ‘bunch’ and ‘malai’ means ‘garland’. We have to be careful when talking about ‘phuang malai’ though because these same words can also mean ‘steering wheel’.

To avoid confusion, it is best to specify ‘phuang malai rot yon’ when talking about a steering wheel (rot yon means motor vehicle). There are different theories as to why the steering wheel is called ‘phuang malai’ – it may have something to do with its resemblance to a popular garland that has a round shape like a bracelet.

Purpose of Phuang Malai

It is impossible to know exactly when local people first developed their love for phuang malai, but these garlands were definitely in common use around the time of King Rama V (mid-nineteenth century). Back then, the ability to create these beautiful garlands earned great honour, and it was expected that all women of the Thai royal court mastered this skill.

Nowadays, phuang malai are used for many purposes including:

  • Hung in motor vehicles for luck and with the hope of reducing the risk of accidents – these garlands can also be used to pay respect to any other holy statues/ornaments also kept in the vehicle.

  • Offered to Buddhist statues or statues of Hindu gods as a way of paying respect and earning merit.

  • Worn by the bride and groom at wedding ceremonies.

  • Offered to important visitors and dignitaries.

  • Used by business people to attract luck and pay respect to any shrine they may keep on the premises.

  • Offered to spirit houses as a way to stay on the right side of dead relatives.

  • Offered to monks as a way of showing respect.

There are different designs used to create phuang malai – but the main difference is that some are designed in a way that it can be worn like a bracelet while others are designed to be draped around the neck or another object (malay song chai).

Create Your Own Phuang Malai

Making your own phuang malai can be a nice thing to do, and it is a way to express your artistic side. You will need some flowers, ribbon, a needle, and cotton thread. The idea is to carefully push the thread through the flowers – the exact way you do this will depend on your design. The ribbon is used to connect different chains of flowers. You will need to be patient and focused if you want to do this right– so it’s a wonderful mindfulness practice.

Other Topics That Might Interest You
Episode 37 – Refuge Recovery – Buddhist Self-Help Group for Addiction Problems

Ever heard of Refuge Recovery? It's a Buddhist self-help group for addiction recovery. Learn more about the benefits of Refuge Recovery, its aims, target audience, usefulness, and why it's definitely worth checking out in our latest podcast episode.

Staying clean and sober on Christmas: The best tips and coping strategies to have brilliant holidays

Tips and coping strategies for a clean & sober Christmas: We provide you with hands-on advice on how to stay strong in your recovery, prevent relapse throughout the holidays, deal with the New Year's blues, and end up having a brilliant time without alcohol or drugs.

Resentments – You Are the Reason My Life Sucks!

People can be assholes, but is holding a resentment the best response? Here are some anecdotes, observations, and tips for better dealing with the assholery of others.

The Stages of Grief – How to Survive a Loss

Grief can be triggered by any type of loss - the toughest one being death. Learn more about the stages of grief, coping strategies, how long grief lasts, obstacles to the grieving process and potential support networks.

A Hands-On Mindfulness Guide to Relapse Prevention

Has this happened to you? You decide to quit in the morning, yet you are back using again by the afternoon? Here are three mindfulness tools that you can use right away, so that next time you make the decision to quit drugs you are able to follow through.

Episode 36 – Denial – How Can We Fix Ourselves If We Don’t Even Realize We’re Broken?

Denial is the biggest obstacle to addiction recovery. How can we get beyond it? In this episode of the podcast, we share our experience with self-deception.

The post Phuang Malai – The Thai Flower Garland appeared first on Hope Rehab Center Thailand.

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Negative Thinking Patterns: How to identify, understand & break them
The topic at a glance
  • Negative thinking patterns & negative self-talk – where do the come from and how to deal with them

  • 8 common negative thinking patterns

  • The solution to negative thinking patterns

by Simon Mott

I once heard someone say addicts are “egomaniacs with an inferiority complex”. This struck a chord with me. In my head, I can still have negative thinking patterns, a dialogue that includes unhelpful self-talk springing from irrational core beliefs.

After years of CBT and working on my negative thinking patterns I realise at a deeper level my negative core beliefs turn in on me and degrade me. But before they do this they turn on the world and other people. I read about ABC model, and it goes something like this…

Thought 1 – anxiety at situation (catastrophising)

Thought 2 – anger at others (blaming)

Thought 3 – self-pity with self (self-loathing)

Some common negative thinking patterns
Why does it always happen to me?

They call this personalising; I call it bad luck or superstitious thinking, probably not rationally looking at the real causes of a situation. Apply unfairness rather than taking responsibility.

 I don’t care…

This is usually denial because we all do care at some level. However, it helps relieve uncomfortable feelings when we don’t get what we want.

Life is shit anyway!

Filtering out the positive for sure, this is an effort to absolve us from our part. The universe has conspired against us. That is why our life is not satisfactory.

 The blame game

It is an auto-reaction. It is instinctive to blame, including blaming others for their sins. But it is for the most part unhelpful, as when we do this all we do is give all our power away to the one we blame.

 Judge, jury and executioner

Judging is instinctive but also negative when we judge others self-righteously as we are setting ourselves up to be a hypocrite. Applying humility would be better.

 Must and should

Rigid thinking leaves us cornered like a rat sometimes. Flexibility is not weakness it gives us options.

 It is all going to go wrong anyway so why bother?

This is strategic pessimism. Maybe it is guarding against disappointment. To stay safe, we reduce our expectations to such a low point we are paralysed.

 I can’t trust or rely on anyone

High expectations on other human beings are a common mistake, and this is why we suggest getting a higher power that cannot let us down.

Negative Thinking Patterns – The Solution

So what do we do now we have identified our negative thinking patterns? I suggest writing them down on a piece of paper and then next to them write down the healthy thoughts. These will be your affirmations, and it really helps to repeat them daily for a while. Very soon you will not only remember them but, automatically, when you get negative thinking patterns, your new, improved thought patterns will counter them.

Other Topics That Might Interest You
Episode 37 – Refuge Recovery – Buddhist Self-Help Group for Addiction Problems

Ever heard of Refuge Recovery? It's a Buddhist self-help group for addiction recovery. Learn more about the benefits of Refuge Recovery, its aims, target audience, usefulness, and why it's definitely worth checking out in our latest podcast episode.

Staying clean and sober on Christmas: The best tips and coping strategies to have brilliant holidays

Tips and coping strategies for a clean & sober Christmas: We provide you with hands-on advice on how to stay strong in your recovery, prevent relapse throughout the holidays, deal with the New Year's blues, and end up having a brilliant time without alcohol or drugs.

Resentments – You Are the Reason My Life Sucks!

People can be assholes, but is holding a resentment the best response? Here are some anecdotes, observations, and tips for better dealing with the assholery of others.

The Stages of Grief – How to Survive a Loss

Grief can be triggered by any type of loss - the toughest one being death. Learn more about the stages of grief, coping strategies, how long grief lasts, obstacles to the grieving process and potential support networks.

A Hands-On Mindfulness Guide to Relapse Prevention

Has this happened to you? You decide to quit in the morning, yet you are back using again by the afternoon? Here are three mindfulness tools that you can use right away, so that next time you make the decision to quit drugs you are able to follow through.

Episode 36 – Denial – How Can We Fix Ourselves If We Don’t Even Realize We’re Broken?

Denial is the biggest obstacle to addiction recovery. How can we get beyond it? In this episode of the podcast, we share our experience with self-deception.

The post Negative Thinking Patterns, Self-Talk and Beliefs appeared first on Hope Rehab Center Thailand.

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Episode 37 – Refuge Recovery – Buddhist Self-Help Group for Addiction Problems
Nuggets from this Episode of the Podcast
  • Refuge Recovery is a Buddhist inspired path to recovery from addiction.

  • The program is based on the Four Noble Truths of Buddhism as interpreted by Noah Levine in his book Refuge Recovery.

  • Refuge Recovery is compatible with the 12 Step approach and some members will go to both groups.

A conversation between Will and Paul.

In this episode of the podcast, Will tells to us about his experiences with Refuge Recovery. Will facilitates the Refuge Recovery meetings here at Hope, and the group recently celebrated its one-year anniversary. He describes how the program work, and he shares some insights into how this approach has helped him personally.

You can find out more about some of the topics covered in the show in the section below, or you can just listen straightaway by pressing play in the media player below.

Hope Mindful Compassion Show – Episode 38
  • What is Refuge Recovery?

  • Is it like the 12 Steps?

  • What is the format for a Refuge Recovery meeting?

  • How does this approach differ from the 12 Steps?

  • Is Refuge Recovery compatible with the 12 Steps?

  • Where does Refuge Recovery come from?

  • Is this approach suitable for all types of addiction?

  • Are Rational Recovery meetings available worldwide?
  • Are there online meetings?

  • Are the meetings free?

  • Is this approach only for Buddhists?

  • Is it a religious approach?

  • Is there one-to-one support (like the sponsor in a 12 Step group)?

  • Can you give an example of how this approach has helped you?

Recommended Resources

Refuge Recovery Website

Refuge Recovery: A Buddhist Path to Recovery from Addiction by Noah Levine

You can also listen to the podcast on iTunes

Did you find this episode on returning home following rehab helpful? If you did, please help us by sharing it online.

Other Topics That Might Interest You
Episode 37 – Refuge Recovery – Buddhist Self-Help Group for Addiction Problems

Ever heard of Refuge Recovery? It's a Buddhist self-help group for addiction recovery. Learn more about the benefits of Refuge Recovery, its aims, target audience, usefulness, and why it's definitely worth checking out in our latest podcast episode.

Staying clean and sober on Christmas: The best tips and coping strategies to have brilliant holidays

Tips and coping strategies for a clean & sober Christmas: We provide you with hands-on advice on how to stay strong in your recovery, prevent relapse throughout the holidays, deal with the New Year's blues, and end up having a brilliant time without alcohol or drugs.

Resentments – You Are the Reason My Life Sucks!

People can be assholes, but is holding a resentment the best response? Here are some anecdotes, observations, and tips for better dealing with the assholery of others.

The Stages of Grief – How to Survive a Loss

Grief can be triggered by any type of loss - the toughest one being death. Learn more about the stages of grief, coping strategies, how long grief lasts, obstacles to the grieving process and potential support networks.

A Hands-On Mindfulness Guide to Relapse Prevention

Has this happened to you? You decide to quit in the morning, yet you are back using again by the afternoon? Here are three mindfulness tools that you can use right away, so that next time you make the decision to quit drugs you are able to follow through.

Episode 36 – Denial – How Can We Fix Ourselves If We Don’t Even Realize We’re Broken?

Denial is the biggest obstacle to addiction recovery. How can we get beyond it? In this episode of the podcast, we share our experience with self-deception.

The post Episode 37 – Refuge Recovery – Buddhist Self-Help Group for Addiction Problems appeared first on Hope Rehab Center Thailand.

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How can Tai Chi help me treat my addiction?
The topic at a glance
  • 5 ways Tai Chi helped Hope’s clients to treat their addiction

By Hope Rehab client X

Tai Chi is one of the activities we offer at Hope Rehab. This ancient martial art is said to produce many benefits, but here are just 5 of the ways our clients claim it has helped them:

1. Tai Chi provides a gentle return to exercise

Most of us are going to be physically out-of-shape by the time we reach rehab, and Tai Chi offers a great way to begin regaining our fitness. It is a low-impact activity that we will likely feel comfortable doing no matter what our current level of physical fitness. Tai Chi gently improves our flexibility, strength, balance, and it can even benefit our cardiovascular system.

2. Tai Chi is a powerful mindfulness practice

One of the most commonly used descriptions of Tai Chi is that it is a type of ‘meditation in motion’. It can be a particularly good choice for those of us who find it hard to sit down and meditate right away. If we practice Tai Chi on a regular basis, it is going to improve our general level of mindfulness as well as providing us with other mental health benefits.

3. Tai Chi is a lifelong practice

One of the great things about Tai Chi is it is something we can really practice for the rest of our lives. One of the difficulties with the more high-impact forms of exercise is we likely pick up injuries, and we will often reach a point where we feel we can’t do it anymore. This is far less likely to happen with Tai Chi, and the fact that there are so many practitioners of an advanced age is a testimony to this.

4. Tai Chi promotes sleep

A common complaint many of us share in early recovery is difficulty sleeping. If we have been abusing alcohol or drugs, it may be many years since we last experienced ‘normal’ sleep, and it is going to take a little time for our body to adjust. One of the things you are likely to notice if you practice Tai Chi regularly is that you find it easier to get to sleep at night – the sleep-promoting effects of this practice are increasingly being backed by research.

5. Tai Chi has helped me get back in touch with my body

If we spend too much time ‘living in our heads’, we start to lose touch with reality as we become a prisoner to our thoughts. This is one of the reasons many of us turn to alcohol and drugs in the first place. When we are more grounded in our bodies, it means we are not so lost in thoughts about the past and future. It means we are experiencing what is happening right now rather than being caught up in a story about what is happening right now. Tai Chi is a fantastic practice for helping us to get more in touch with our bodies, and in my experience, the more we do this, the happier we become.

Other Topics That Might Interest You
How Can Tai Chi Help Me Treat My Addiction?

Tai Chi is one of the powerful mindfulness practices that we offer at Hope Rehab. This ancient martial art is said to produce many benefits, but here are just 5 of the ways our clients claim it has helped them:

How Altruism Helps Us Escape the Prison of Self-Obsession

What is Altruism and why do we need it in this world and in our lives? This blog post answers these and other questions and explains the benefits of altruism as well as potential mistakes we can make with altruism.

Staying clean and sober on Christmas: The best tips and coping strategies to have brilliant holidays

Tips and coping strategies for a clean & sober Christmas: We provide you with hands-on advice on how to stay strong in your recovery, prevent relapse throughout the holidays, deal with the New Year's blues, and end up having a brilliant time without alcohol or drugs.

Resentments – You Are the Reason My Life Sucks!

People can be assholes, but is holding a resentment the best response? Here are some anecdotes, observations, and tips for better dealing with the assholery of others.

The Stages of Grief – How to Survive a Loss

Grief can be triggered by any type of loss - the toughest one being death. Learn more about the stages of grief, coping strategies, how long grief lasts, obstacles to the grieving process and potential support networks.

A Hands-On Mindfulness Guide to Relapse Prevention

Has this happened to you? You decide to quit in the morning, yet you are back using again by the afternoon? Here are three mindfulness tools that you can use right away, so that next time you make the decision to quit drugs you are able to follow through.

The post How Can Tai Chi Help Me Treat My Addiction? appeared first on Hope Rehab Center Thailand.

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How altruism helps us escape the prison of self-obsession
The topic at a glance
  • What is Altruism and why do we need it?

  • The benefits of Altruism

  • Mistakes we can make with Altruism

The Need for Altruism

Which do you think would be a better world to live in? One where we all looked out for one another or one where everyone is just out for themselves? If you favour the former type of world, a more caring and supportive environment, there are things you can do to make it a reality – you can begin by being the change you want to happen through the practice of altruism.

What is Altruism?

The word ‘altruism’ can be defined in many ways such as helping others, selfless regard for others, unselfish concern for others, or selflessness – it is the opposite of being selfish. It occurs when we at least temporarily put the needs of others before our own (e.g. we share our meal with a stranger).

There are two types of altruism – naturals (innate) altruism like a mother taking care of her child and cultivated altruism where we develop this ability like a skill. It is the development of altruism as a skill that we will be focusing on here.

Benefits of Altruism

The Tibetan Monk, Matthieu Ricard describes altruism as an act of love. The more we practice it, the more loving we become, and the more love there exists in the world. Practicing altruism means we develop a loving relationship with life that is not dependent on the external conditions being a certain way.

Some of the benefits of altruism include:

  • It means we develop a more positive relationship with reality.

  • It leaves us feeling energized and happy because altruism triggers the release of endorphins in the brain (this is often referred to as ‘helper’s high’).

  • By focusing more on the problems of other people, we become less obsessed with our own difficulties.

  • A reduced focus on our own problems means less stress – less stress means improved mental and physical health.

  • It improves our relationships with others – kind people are just nicer to be around.

  • It means you develop a better attitude towards yourself.

  • Acting in a loving way to others will often mean they respond in a loving way (although not always).

  • We can experience real pleasure from seeing happiness in others.

Altruism for Self-Obsession

Spending too much time focused on our own story is a major cause of suffering because it means we become disconnected from reality. This happens because the only way the brain can keep the spotlight on our ego is by emphasizing a sense of separateness from the world around us – it does this by disputing reality (e.g. ‘this shouldn’t be happening to me’ or ‘that shouldn’t have happened to me’).

So long as we remain self-obsessed, we will never know real happiness. It is only by turning our attention outwards that we can begin to find real peace and serenity. One of the best ways to do this is by practising altruism.

Mistakes We Can Make with Altruism

Altruism turns toxic if we allow it be corrupted by the ego. An example of this would be where we use it as a way to convince other people that we are a ‘good person’. Another example of corrupted altruism would be developing a ‘savior complex’ where we believe it is our mission to ‘save the world’.

True altruism is just an expression of love that expects nothing in return and is not serving some agenda (e.g. we want the person to adopt our beliefs or worldview) – it may even sometimes require we do things that may make us look like the ‘bad guy’.

Heart Practices to Help Us to Become Altruistic

Those of us who have been caught up in the self-obsession required to maintain an addiction usually need to develop the skill of altruism. The way to do this is to just practice acts of kindness whenever you can (e.g. share your stuff or volunteer your time to help somebody).

A great way to develop the willingness to perform acts of kindness or service would be the heart practices such as Metta (loving-kindness) meditation and Tonglen. These types of meditation open us up by reducing self-obsession and moving our attention outwards.

Hope Rehab has a charitable foundation that helps Thailand develop its 12-Step treatment system for the public who need it. We travel around Thailand training Rehab workers in our 12 step methods.

Other Topics That Might Interest You
How Can Tai Chi Help Me Treat My Addiction?

Tai Chi is one of the powerful mindfulness practices that we offer at Hope Rehab. This ancient martial art is said to produce many benefits, but here are just 5 of the ways our clients claim it has helped them:

How Altruism Helps Us Escape the Prison of Self-Obsession

What is Altruism and why do we need it in this world and in our lives? This blog post answers these and other questions and explains the benefits of altruism as well as potential mistakes we can make with altruism.

Staying clean and sober on Christmas: The best tips and coping strategies to have brilliant holidays

Tips and coping strategies for a clean & sober Christmas: We provide you with hands-on advice on how to stay strong in your recovery, prevent relapse throughout the holidays, deal with the New Year's blues, and end up having a brilliant time without alcohol or drugs.

Resentments – You Are the Reason My Life Sucks!

People can be assholes, but is holding a resentment the best response? Here are some anecdotes, observations, and tips for better dealing with the assholery of others.

The Stages of Grief – How to Survive a Loss

Grief can be triggered by any type of loss - the toughest one being death. Learn more about the stages of grief, coping strategies, how long grief lasts, obstacles to the grieving process and potential support networks.

A Hands-On Mindfulness Guide to Relapse Prevention

Has this happened to you? You decide to quit in the morning, yet you are back using again by the afternoon? Here are three mindfulness tools that you can use right away, so that next time you make the decision to quit drugs you are able to follow through.

The post How Altruism Helps Us Escape the Prison of Self-Obsession appeared first on Hope Rehab Center Thailand.

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What is Doctor Shopping?
The topic at a glance
  • What is doctor shopping?

  • Who is to blame for doctor shopping?

  • Prescrition drug addicted clients tell their doctor shopping tales

By Simon Mott

Doctor shopping is when someone undertakes multiple visits with different doctors for the same agenda each time, usually to get drugs or to procure prescription drugs illicitly.

Doctor shopping or prescription drug abuse is out of control. It now accounts for more deaths than cocaine and heroin combined. Who is to blame? Should we accuse the doctors of making it too easy for people to get hold of these substances? Or is it the fault of patients who are often so desperate that they try every trick in the book to get their hands on medication?

The shocking death of Michael Jackson five years ago this week sparked a huge debate on the availability of prescription drugs. His autopsy determined that a deadly mix of strong sedatives triggered a cardiac arrest – these drugs had been prescribed for him by his personal physician. The coroner concluded: “This cocktail was a recipe for disaster.”

Who is to blame for Doctor Shopping?

There was an outcry as to how something like this could happen, but what lessons have we learned from this tragedy?

There is no doubt doctors must take some responsibility for the prescription drug epidemic or doctor shopping. A court in the US found Dr Conrad Murray guilty of the manslaughter of Michael Jackson, and he was given a four-year jail sentence. The evidence suggests he allowed the star to be using enough sedatives to put an army to sleep. There are doctors out there who are too willing to prescribe dangerous medications, this needs to change, but there are also patients who seek these physicians out.

Who is to blame for Doctor Shopping?

Doctor Shopping is driving the prescription drug epidemic

The term Doctor Shopping refers to a patient visiting more than one doctor to collect medication for recreational use.

It wasn’t until after I cleaned up from heroin ten years ago that I first came across the term ‘doctor shopping’. This activity would frequently be mentioned by clients in the rehabs where I worked. These were often people who looked upon the act of going to a drug dealer as a bit of a taboo, yet they had no qualms about using doctors to satisfy their addiction. Prescribed medication can certainly seem more legit, but these substances can be more dangerous than street drugs.

Painkillers responsible for more deaths than cocaine and heroin combined

Recently researchers at McGill University in the US, found prescribed painkiller medication to be responsible for more deaths than cocaine and heroin combined. The number of fatalities in America from narcotic overdoses has tripled in the last decade, and there is no sign that this trend is changing anytime soon. The idea that prescription medications are somehow safer than street drugs is just wrong.

As an insider working closely with doctors, I can tell you there is often a conflict when it comes to prescribing medication to addicts. These are people with a habit to maintain, and they know how to use the system to do it.

Doctors can feel pressurised into prescribing drugs

Addicts can be extremely manipulative; this is how the term doctor shopping evolved. The doctor may be afraid to say ‘no’ because of the fear of being accused of ignoring symptoms or losing a private patient. Emotional blackmail can be used along with blatant dishonesty, suicide threats, and even intimidation.

I have personally witnessed a client screaming and rolling around on the ground as if she were dying and demanding Fentanyl – this drug is many more times stronger than morphine and usually only used after surgery. The doctors had investigated her claims, but test after test found nothing physically wrong with her.

Prescription drug addicted clients at Hope tell their doctor shopping tales

Another client told me she stole her mum’s morphine which had been prescribed to manage cancer pain. After her mother died, she demanded that the doctor continue prescribing the drugs with threats that she would ‘sell herself’ to buy street drugs if he didn’t. He continued writing prescriptions for another ten years.

Last month we had a 30-year-old man check in from Australia, and his medication bag was bigger than his luggage. Thankfully, within a few weeks, he was able to come off the majority of these drugs, but in my opinion, none of them were necessary.

More needs to be done to shed light on what is often a hidden problem. This is why we can be thankful to people like Cat Marnell, a recent client of our rehab, who is willing to be open about her previous addiction to Xanax and Adderall.

Should we blame those who doctor shop?

The problem is that while this medication can bring relief to the diagnosed problem initially, there are risks involved in prolonged usage. If the underlying causes of the symptoms are not properly addressed, it means that over time, the patient will face the same addiction issues that all addicts face.

So back the earlier question, what have we learned in the five years since the death of Michael Jackson?

One of my clients summed the situation up well with this quote:

Treatment had to break my pattern for blaming others for my addiction, so it is hard for me to focus on the doctor’s fault. But, as I look at the list of medications I was on, I have to believe I had a part and so did they.

Some of the most abused prescribed drugs would include:

  • Opiates such as morphine, pethidine, codeine, and oxycontin
  • Sedatives such as valium, xanax, and ativan

  • Stimulants such as ritalin, adderall, and amphetamine

At the Hope Rehab Center here in Thailand, we are increasingly working with clients who have suffered greatly due to prescription drug addiction. We provide a sanctuary where these people can regain control over their lives. Contact us now.

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The post What is Doctor Shopping? appeared first on Hope Rehab Center Thailand.

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Dental Treatment in Thailand
The topic at a glance
  • What to expect from dental treatment in Thailand

  • 5 reasons you should consider getting your teeth fixed in Thailand

  • Types of dental treatment that are being offered in Thailand

By Paul G.

Thailand has managed to develop an unrivalled reputation as a hub for many different types of medical tourism including dental treatments. People choose to come here for dental work not only because it is less expensive than many other parts of the world but also because it is hygienic, safe, and generally of a high quality. Thailand is known affectionately as the ‘Land of Smiles’ and one of the reasons the local people are so comfortable about showing their teeth is the availability of excellent dental care.

Some people feel reluctant about coming to a country like Thailand for dental treatment because they fear the work will somehow be substandard or unsafe. Perhaps they imagine that this type of work will be done by an unqualified manic with pliers in a dirty room. The reality is that private dental care in Thailand is usually highly advanced and done by some of the most competent dentists in the world. You can expect the clinics to be modern, very clean, as well as offering a high level of comfort.

5 Reasons to choose dental work in Thailand
  • You are likely to find that dental work is a lot cheaper here in Thailand than it would be in your home country (some procedures can be as much as one-third of the cost of the same treatment in the West)

  • You will find that almost every type of dental work is available in Thailand

  • Dentistry in Thailand is generally of a high quality and in line with international standards

  • Thailand is a tropical paradise, so you get to enjoy a memorable holiday as well as an improved smile

  • Dentists in Thailand tend to be willing to go the extra mile to keep clients happy

Types of dental work available in Thailand
  • Replacement of crowns

  • Teeth cleaning

  • Teeth polishing and whitening (including specialised options like laser teeth bleaching)

  • Root canal treatment
  • Dental implants

  • Emergency dental work

  • Fillings

  • Porcelain veneers

  • Dental bridge work

  • Dental implants

  • Dental surgery

  • All types of cosmetic dental work

Should you choose Dental Work in Thailand

There are many of us who suffer discomfort or feel self-conscious because of the state of our teeth. The high cost of dental treatment in the west may mean we just accept this state of affairs. The reality is that these dental problems will often be niggling away at the back of our mind, and it is only when we do something to fix the problem that we realise how big an issue it has been. Getting some dental work in Thailand can not only improve your dental health, but it may also boost your self-confidence and body image.

It is important though that you are careful when choosing a dental clinic in Thailand. It is best to stick with the facilities that have a solid reputation – even if this means paying a little more (don’t worry, you should still end up saving a lot of money). You can find recommendations on online forums such as the Thai Visa Forum, and these are usually reliable as they come from personal experience.

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The post Dental Treatment in Thailand appeared first on Hope Rehab Center Thailand.

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Addict’s Cycle of Change
The topic at a glance
  • What is the addict’s cycle of change?

  • What usually stands between you and change.

  • How to set goals and reach them.

By Simon Mott and Henk Nagel

Like other chronic diseases, addiction often involves cycles of relapse and remission.

– ASAM (American Society of Addiction Medicine)

The cycle of change is a model that was invented by “Prochaska and DiClementi” who were two psychologists looking to invent a road-map for people to help them overcome changing habits and addiction. It was initially created to help those who wanted to give up smoking, but since its invention, it has become a very useful tool in helping people in all addictions known as the Addicts Cycle of Change.

The 5 stages of the addict’s Cycle of Change

The Addict’s Cycle of Change is based on the idea that changing the behaviour of people in active addiction does not happen with one step only. It has been shown that people go through a process which involves different stages. The different stages are:

 Pre-contemplation or Step O

People in the pre-contemplation stage aren’t yet thinking about addicts cycle of change. They are perhaps already seeing negative consequences of their using, however, are still in denial and feel that their addiction is not a big enough problem to initiate change. People at this stage tend to be defensive when challenged about their problem.

 Contemplation or Step 1

When people reach the contemplation stage, they are at the point where they can see the negative consequences of their addictive behaviour and are thinking about change, however, tend to be ambivalent about it. People in this stage are more open to suggestions and advice from others and may go back and forth weighing up the pros against the cons. This stage can last for a long time as they are not quite at the action stage yet. Sadly people can waste many years in active addiction by becoming stuck at this level.

 Preparation or Step 2

The preparation stage begins with a decision to change and steps taken to make this happen. For our clients, this is the stage in which they [cp_modal id=”cp_id_2a3fb”]contact Hope[/cp_modal] and make plans to come and get help, away from the stresses of everyday life in a safe environment. Triggers are constant reminders of addiction or addictive behaviour which result in large cravings and make it difficult to fight going back. It is much harder to overcome these alone without the support of professionals and peers which is a big reason many choose to come to Hope.

 Action or Step 3

This is the stage when the action happens! For our clients, this is the time when they arrive at Hope and start the program. The early days of action are so important as although this can be a new and unfamiliar time, it is also a very exciting period in one’s recovery. The program we offer our clients is designed to help them through the action stage and set them up with a solid recovery for when they leave treatment and go back to their homes.

Maintenance/ Recovery or Step 4

The maintenance stage helps people continue with the progress made already. It involves staying abstinent from drugs and alcohol and following the tools learnt while in treatment. Part of what we offer here at Hope is a chance to start working a 12 Step program. Our clients attend three AA/NA (Alcoholics Anonymous/ Narcotics Anonymous) meetings each week and by continuing this as well as the CBT work once leaving treatment brings an opportunity for a full and happy life in recovery. We also offer our clients the opportunity to go and spend some time in a nearby Sober House to help with the transition from primary treatment.

The tools that we provide our clients with at Hope means that there is a good chance of the addict leaving treatment and having a free, happy and healthy life in recovery. The alternative to this in the cycle of change is relapse, in turn starting the cycle again.

Change is the solution

Change – most human beings are familiar with the concept of change, and resistance to change. Humans are prone to remain in their comfort zone, the familiar no matter how uncomfortable it appears.

Most people have a desire to change certain negative and/or self-defeating habits but find themselves having a lot of difficulties with the implementation of the desired change. People usually only change when survival is at stake. There is a lot to say about change, so I will focus on the aspects of our past that we want to change in this article, and explore some of the solutions such as goal setting.

What usually stands between you and the change

The definition of change is ‘to make or become different’. In my explanation, I would say that change means replacing one habit for another or replacing one thought for another. In our treatment, we challenge behavioural aspects to replace a negative habit for a positive one, and we use Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to help clients replacing negative and unhelpful thinking patterns for a more positive, performance-enhancing thinking pattern.

There are many causes that make change difficult. Some of the main ones are: the person’s comfort zone, core beliefs about ourselves and the world around us, our past experiences, low or insufficient levels of desire and motivation, fears for the unknown etc.

What usually stands between you and the change

The definition of change is ‘to make or become different’. In my explanation, I would say that change means replacing one habit for another or replacing one thought for another. In our treatment, we challenge behavioural aspects to replace a negative habit for a positive one, and we use Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to help clients replacing negative and unhelpful thinking patterns for a more positive, performance-enhancing thinking pattern.

There are many causes that make change difficult. Some of the main ones are: the person’s comfort zone, core beliefs about ourselves and the world around us, our past experiences, low or insufficient levels of desire and motivation, fears for the unknown etc.

Addicts in particular are likely to develop automatic negative responses

“We are a product of our past” or so is a saying you might be familiar with. Humans develop automatic responses to everything that happens around us, and we do that because it helps us to deal with the complexity of the world. Some studies say that 80% of what humans do is unconscious and automatic. If you drop a pencil, you just pick it up. You don’t think about what just happened, what the consequences are, what to do now etc. You probably just pick it up without giving it any thought.

This is because you have learned in your life that when a pencil falls out of your hand, you just pick it up and further nothing happens. This is an easy example, but the concept of automatic responses is a big part of how we live our lives. People in general – but addicts in particular – are likely to develop automatic negative responses to the world around us. Examples are anger, self-pity, feeling like a victim, blaming others, and many more. In some cases, anger can be a healthy response, but when it becomes a habit and surfaces regularly, it will become a negative way of responding.

How to set goals and reach them

Ambivalence means ‘the state of having mixed feelings or contradictory ideas about something or someone’. An example can be that you want to quit drinking alcohol because it causes a lot of problems in your life, but you enjoy getting drunk and are afraid of living life without drinking. Ambivalence makes change extremely difficult because you won’t be fully committed to making the change you would like to make and are likely to ‘build a case’ to justify falling back into old behaviour. If you are unsure about making the change, it means you are still contemplating and not ready for action yet.

Before you start making a big change, it is very helpful to set a clear goal to give yourself direction and something to work towards. After having the main goal set you can now start identifying all the little steps you need to make to achieve the main goal. You formulate all the little steps into little goals. Make sure all the goals you’re setting are Specific, Measurable, Acceptable, Realistic and Time-bound (SMART).

Change is the solution – using the Transtheoretical Model

Goal setting is a very helpful tool that helps people with their changes because humans function in general much better if they have a clear direction about where to go and what to work for. Accomplishing goals is very satisfying as you will probably now.

Change is the solution: Using the Transtheoretical model or so called addict’s cycle of change stages (as described above). Termination stage describes the point at which no conscious effort is needed to maintain the change, it’s now become second nature. Unfortunately, this stage does not apply to the chronic disease of addiction as recovery maintenance is always necessary to stay safe.

How change can happen: Hands-on examples

Ultimate goal: Achieve abstinence and get my life on track

  • Goal one – Precontemplation – get feedback on what to change

  • Goal two – Contemplation – select the priorities to change

  • Goal three – Preparation – plan how best to change

  • Goal four – Action – start the process of change

  • Goal five – Maintenance – work out how to keep up the gains

  • Goal six – Termination – decide whether to start new changes

SMART goals or goal setting criteria is another model that can be used to achieve change

  • Specific – target something you want to change.

  • Measurable – accountability or document the change.

  • Assignable – how and when.

  • Realistic – for your life.

  • Time-related – set a time limit so you have a target.

At Hope, the common goal usually includes the following for rehab admission (e.g. because I can’t stop by myself, I tried it already many times, so I need help).

  • I will comply with a treatment program.

  • I will be honest, open-minded and willing to follow the program.

  • I will do whatever it takes to learn how to live clean and sober.

  • After rehab I will do everything I have learned in rehab when I leave.

  • I will use the support groups.

  • I will do my ABC’s every time I feel upset.

  • I will get a sponsor.

  • I will do my step work.

  • I will do my meditation.

  • I will do my physical exercise.

Using this change technique, goal setting and sticking to them, anyone can address addiction issues. I have changed many own self-defeating behaviours using goal setting, and I have helped many people do the same and change their lives.

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Get your brain ready for a new beginning by ending your addiction
The topic at a glance
  • What is spring cleaning all about?

  • The benefits of giving your brain a spring clean

  • How Hope Rehab can help you with spring cleaning in regards to addiction

Spring cleaning is an ancient tradition where we mark the end of winter by preparing our homes for brighter days ahead. We may initially feel some reluctance about beginning such a project, but once we get into the swing of it, we start to actually enjoy ourselves. When the spring clean is over, we are almost certainly going to be glad we made the effort – it means we can approach the future with hope and excitement.

An effective spring clean involves a number of tasks including:

  • Get rid of all junk

  • Remove any items we no longer need and would otherwise get in our way

  • Put things in their rightful place

  • Eliminate dirt, dust, and stains

  • Freshen up our rooms by opening windows and doors

The benefits of giving your brain a spring clean

The traditional spring clean can temporarily boost your mood and trigger a burst of positivity, but if you are serious about beginning a new chapter in your life, you’ll want to take things a bit further. A mental spring clean is where you tidy up your mind by:

  • Letting go of unhelpful beliefs, opinions, and ideas

  • Letting go of thinking patterns we no longer find useful

  • Reorganizing our brain so as to promote sanity, serenity, and unconditional positivity

  • Overcome addictions and other maladaptive behaviors

  • Open up our mind to new ideas that can improve our lives

Good news: You can get away with giving your brain a spring clean once, if…

Giving your brain a spring clean is a bit more complicated than fixing up your home. To get this job done properly, you are going to need some professional help – this is especially likely to be the case if you are dealing with something like an addiction problem.

The good news about doing a spring clean of your brain is that if you are effective, it is not something you will need to repeat every year – although you will need to do some ongoing maintenance work to remain in good mental shape.

End your addiction this spring by choosing Hope Rehab Thailand

The program we offer at Hope is ideal for anyone looking to overcome an addiction problem to have a better future. Your commitment to change is essential, but we provide the environment, support, resources, and tools that will greatly increase your likelihood of success.

The Hope program makes the perfect spring clean for your brain because it includes:

  • Mindfulness will teach you how to let go of unhelpful beliefs, ideas, and opinions

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) will give you the ability to escape unhelpful thinking patterns

  • Our life skills workshops teach you how to reorganize your brain for success.

  • The 12-Step work can be used to directly tackle your addiction

  • The Hope program is packed full of tools to help you improve your physical, mental, and spiritual health.

If you are interested in a spring clean for your brain, contact us right away via the contact form for more information. We are open all-year-round, so you don’t have to wait until springtime to begin this process.

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The post Get your brain ready for a new beginning by ending your addiction appeared first on Hope Rehab Center Thailand.

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