Monday, November 30, 2015

Breaking Bad..Habits

By: Nate Webster, IMH

The term “Dry Drunk” was coined by AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) decades ago.  It is used to distinguish someone who is truly sober from someone who might be sober physically, but who is still a “drunk” mentally and emotionally. The term encapsulates the idea that even though someone’s dysfunctional behavior isn’t acting up, his or her heart remains unchanged and that ultimately it’s only a matter of time until he or she acts out again. Even though this term is applied mostly to addiction, the concept is applicable to most bad habits as well. How many of us have bad habits or dependencies we’re trying to stop, but we still just really want to do them?

Stopping a bad habit can feel like trying to stop a desire for breathing. You hold your breath, hoping that while you’re suffocating your body will suddenly stop needing oxygen, but eventually you just grow tired and frustrated and stop holding your breath! In my work as a counselor I have noticed that there are three patterns of behavior that make it hard for people to break bad habits: secrecy, idolization and dabbling.

Secrecy
·         Secrecy causes you to hide behind a mask, which often leads to stress that encourages your bad habit.
·         Secrecy gives your bad habit control over you, rather than you over your bad habit.
·         Secrecy isolates you from others, leaving you to deal with your habit and its residual effects alone without help or support.

Idolization
·         Idolization gives a bad habit more power and influence over your life than God.
·         You can become a slave to your bad habit when you idolize it.
·         Your bad habit becomes your source of comfort instead of God or other people.

Dabbling
·         Choosing to only dabble in your bad habit once in a while can feel like a good way to stop it, but actually only increases it. Each time you dabble, it renews your emotional, psychological and physical connection to your bad habit. 
·         Dabbling gives you a fake sense of management and self-control over your bad habit.
·         Dabbling more often leads to excuses rather ownership of a bad habit.

If you’re trying to stop a bad habit, but are running into some of these behaviors, try these solutions below. Also consider seeking out some good counseling. A counselor helps you understand what life experiences have contributed to your bad habits and can help you overcome them to lead a fuller, healthier life.        

Secrecy: Try being more honest about your bad habit with a few people you trust. You will become more of a master over your bad habit rather than a victim of your bad habit.

Idolization: Try drawing some biblically-based boundaries for your bad habit. For example: God still loves me no matter how many times I do my bad habit or God is more powerful than my bad habit, even though I’m still struggling with it.

Dabbling: Try treating your bad habit differently. Instead of it being a tank that just needs to let off some steam, treat it like a backpack that you put a rock into every time you dabble. Eventually your bad habit will break your back. 


For more counseling resources check out LifeWorksGroup.org.



Social Anxiety on the Rise: Are you affected?

By: Nate Webster, IMH

There’s a growing trend of social anxiety that is leaving many of us feeling lonely and disconnected. Brought on by things like social media, online dating and television, people find themselves more afraid of each other than ever before but also wanting relationships more than ever before. In other words, we’re afraid of relationships but are also dying of loneliness. Whether we realize it or not, we’ve all felt the ripples of social anxiety. If you’re a millennial you might be living with it. If you’re of an older generation, you might have been a victim of it.

Below is a list of a few common behaviors of modern social anxiety to help you gauge where you may be. A quick preface though - the below behaviors are not always caused by social anxiety, but are good indicators that you may be struggling with social anxiety.

Indicators of Social Anxiety:

·         People in general feel like a burden and a problem to avoid.
·         Talking to a stranger for any reason leaves you feeling guilty or regretful.
·         You talk with people more over electronic devices than face-to-face.
·         You often pretend to not notice those you walk past.
·         You often talk softly in public to prevent others around you from listening.
·         You save your feelings for when you get home, and rarely show them in public.
·         Personal space and personal transportation are often a non-negotiable need for you.
·         You feel like most people rarely understand you or are on your level.
·         There’s a time and place for relationships and they shouldn’t interrupt the rest of your life.
·         The moment you begin a conversation you’re already trying to figure out how to end it.

These aren’t absolutes of course, but general indicators of social anxiety. These behaviors can be debilitating and can act as barriers to joy and fulfillment in your life. Fortunately Social Anxiety doesn’t need to run your life. Below are some hopeful tips for dealing with social anxiety.

Tips for Improving Social Anxiety

·         Remember that too much comfort and safety isn’t always a good thing.
·         Practice not always being in control of social situations. Wonderful things can happen when you let them naturally occur.
·         Remember that you aren’t weak if you can’t figure out something on your own!
·         Don’t let others blame you for their feelings and don’t blame others for your feelings.
·         Tell yourself who you are before you let others tell you who you are.


If you identified with any of the above points, the best way to address them is through counseling. Counselors help you understand what life experiences have contributed to your unhealthy beliefs and help you build new beliefs that create different outcomes in your life. For counseling resources check out our website at LifeWorksGroup.org.