Monday, June 29, 2009

Michael Jackson- Addicted to Fame?

One of the main reasons folks resort to addictions is trauma. Simply put, trauma is considered a horrible life event that is often uncontrollable and overwhelming.

Michael Jackson's life, like so many had a past that included trauma. He reported that he'd been physically abused growing up. He also shared that he was self-conscious about his appearance. This feeling was later exacerbated by a tragic burn that occurred while he was shooting a Pepsi commercial.

A study by Ouimette, Kimerling, Shaw & Moos, 2000, indicated that as many as 2/3 of folks who struggle with substance abuse problems and addictions also have other co-occurring mental health issues. The most common are PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), anxiety and depression.

PTSD often creates the conditions for depression, anxiety and of course addiction issues. Trauma often feels like a "third degree emotional burn" for those who experience it. The addiction often arises as a means to soothe, using to soothe the memory, emotions, feelings and perhaps sensations of a trauma or abuse.

Michael Jackson, the "Man in the Mirror." Yet who was the man in the mirror? Is it possible that Michael's negative perception of himself resulted in what appears to be an addiction to plastic surgery along with a need to "use to soothe" through excessive shopping and prescription drugs with alleged use of Oxycontin,Demerol and Xanax? Did the pressure of fame result in extreme anxiety resulting in odd extreme and questionable behaviour, disordered eating and a need to withdraw from those around him?

Now it doesn't necessarily mean that if you struggle with addiction that you had been abused or traumatized. However, more recent studies do show a correlation between these unpleasant life events and experiences that lead many folks to self medicate and resort to addictions in an attempt to soothe.

Michael Jackson, a talent globally admired, yet a man profoundly troubled, with a deep internal struggle that he never figured out how to address in a healthy way. Even some of the most famous icons struggle with self esteem, trauma, destructive core beliefs of "not being good enough". Often as a result of these beliefs, some of the so called "most beautiful", talented, wealthy and most successful icons become addicted to fame and will go to desperate measures to remain in the limelight. These issues often lead to other addictions.

If you believe that beauty, talent, fame and your net worth are equal to your self-worth, then you will likely feel pretty beat up inside when these things fade. For many this leads to desperate, often addictive attempts, to try and reclaim those things that feel so wrapped up in our self worth.

Beauty, talent, fame and one's net worth have nothing to do with self-worth. Remember, your self-worth is not up for grabs!

Perhaps we are left with no other choice but to reflect, and honour ourselves by learning from his struggle and choosing to work through our pain so that we can learn to cope and soothe in a healthy and balanced way. Our past impacts us, but it doesn't have to define us. We all have a choice. There is hope.

Best of health and warmest regards, Paul Radkowski

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Laugh and Live Longer

We all need laughter in our lives. Look at Ed McMahon from the Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson, who recently died at 86 years of age. He was part of a world that kept us all laughing. He had many struggles in his life, huge issues, especially in his latter years. We all have a choice, "use to soothe" or tap into other coping mechanisms like laughter, friends and other healthier options.

Gelotology is the psychological and physiological study of laughter and its effects on the mind, mood and body. The word is Greek in origin, gelos, geloto meaning laugh, laughter, or laughing. Norman Cousins author of Anatomy of an Illness observes that "laughter is internal jogging". It has been stated that "The physical and psychological benefits of laughter come second only to the physical and psychological benefits of sex." We're talking the "fun" kind of exercise here!

So, "LAUGH OUT LOUD!" Often times even a fake laugh will turn into a belly laugh. Laughter is good internal medicine. It relieves tension and loosens the muscles. It's an internal massage! It causes blood to flow to the heart and brain.

More importantly, laughter will decrease stress and anxiety, reinforce immunity, relax muscle tension, and decrease blood pressure and pain. What does this all mean? A life that is better in both quality and in quantity. Modern medicine is beginning to take advantage of these positive effects; hospitalized children who see clown shows have shorter hospital stays than those who do not. Remember the movie "Patch Adams" with Robin Williams? Laughter helps heal.

Every day, researchers discover new benefits of laughter. So, I ask you this one important question: "Could you use a good dose of belly-shaking laughter every now and then, how about right now?" Of course you can! So what are you waiting for? Get laughing! Go to a comedy club or rent a funny movie. Your mind, body and spirit will love you for it!

Best of health and warmest regards, Paul Radkowski

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Act As If- You Are Your Healthiest Self

A powerful way to achieve greater health and recovery is to... "ACT AS IF" you are already fully healthy and recovered.

"ACT AS IF" ... you are already at the ideal weight and physical health you want to be. "ACT AS IF" you already have the healthy self esteem & relationships you want to have. "ACT AS IF" you are already engaging in healthy behaviours & choices, right now.

People like Oprah, Lance Armstrong and President Obama "acted as if" they were already in a position of influence and power and look where they are now.

I want you to "ACT AS IF" you have already arrived to a place of optimal health & performance. As you now do this, "ACTing AS IF," ... how would you talk to others? What would you say to yourself on a regular basis? What would you carry in your purse or briefcase? What wouldn't you carry in your purse or briefcase? "ACT AS IF."

When you now "ACT AS IF" (you're already your healthiest self)... you are powerfully creating an attitude, expectation and behaviour that now creates a healthier reality. If nothing else, you owe it to yourself to give it a try!

Recovery is about working on ways that you can begin to behave toward new ways of believing and to believe toward new ways of behaving. Your beliefs can change your behaviour. Likewise, your behaviour can change your beliefs.

Recovery is about working on changes both inside and out. Whether it starts on the inside (with your beliefs) or the outside (with your behaviours), they each effect the other especially when you work on both at the same time. When your beliefs and behaviours are congruent with each other, this is known as "praxis". Praxis is the integration of belief with behaviour and as you begin to live life in this way, your brain will re-wire and re-integrate itself to reflect the healthier thoughts and habits you are now creating.

Be gentle, recovery is about honouring your needs and not your indulgences. What is your need? Feeling lonely, lost, bored, unattractive, flawed etc. A need is like thirst, it's not "good" or "bad" it just is. It's what you do with that need that counts. How can you meet that need in a way that is in your highest interest? In what ways can you now "Act As If" you are choosing, believing and behaving in ways that are in congruence with YOUR healthiest self?

So "ACT AS IF" you are where you've always dreamed of being. "ACT AS IF" your are completely recovered, healthy, happy and living your best and most fulfilling life.

Make a contract with yourself right now....

I will now "ACT AS IF...." in the following ways:____________________________________________________

We want to make a difference during these tough economic times so for the first half of 2009 we are offering a "Pay What You Can" option.

Best of health and warmest regards, Paul Radkowski

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Closing the Door to Your Addiction- Is Your Recovery One of Commitment Or Convenience?

I often hear folks especially in early recovery say they want to "close the door" and end their destructive behaviour or addiction, but then I hear many of these same folks say "but maybe I'll just leave that door open just a crack".

So, for someone who has difficulty in overcoming toxic relationships they might say "I know its not good for me to call them, maybe I'll just send them a quick email or text message" or for someone overcoming overeating or a more recent categorization of "binge eating disorder" might say "I know its probably not in my highest interest to keep that tub of ice cream in my fridge, but the next time I have a guest they may want ice cream".

You can always find a way to rationalize a temptation and/or even act out in addiction. Its been said, to "rationalize" is about "rationing lies to your mind" and most often one lie leads to another, one temptation leads to a bigger one in a destructive slippery slope that will slowly but surely bring you down.

I do recommend closing the door to any or all temptations vs. leaving the door ajar. Recovery is about commitment not convenience. Commitment to follow a path of consistently making healthy choices. A committed choice is one that is consistent regardless of the circumstance, time or place "I'm committed not to smoke no matter what" versus a choice of convenience which is easily changed when circumstances and things are not so convenient "how could you expect me NOT to smoke after having such an awful day at work".

To make choices out of convenience is to keep the door open and invite "unwanted guests" to come in and linger in your life. I recall someone sharing their recovery story who had lived for some time in S. Africa. They said they would be able to keep the big predators away from the house like lions and such by having a big fence around their house, but it was the fire ants, the small little things that usually get past our guard easily that can and often do some serious damage. To leave the door ajar is to let things start to creep in, infest and take over.

You may have done some things in your life already to rid yourself of some of the big vices and temptations you previously engaged in and good for you for doing that. Remember, its often "the little things in life", the little temptations that lead to greater harm which is something to also be mindful of.

We want to make a difference during these tough economic times so for the first half of 2009 we are offering a "Pay What You Can" option.

Best of health and warmest regards, Paul Radkowski

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Stress, Anxiety and the Joyous Life

Children, teens, adults, seniors, absolutely everyone is affected by the stressors of life. Even up and coming singing sensation Susan Boyle has recently experienced the impacts of stress and taken to hospital. Cell phones, Internet, i-phones, blackberries, TV, the day to day demands of work, school, friends and family, feelings of loneliness, aloneness, grief, depression, anxiety, hopelessness and feeling lost, all impact our well being. The day to day pressures of life leave us with little room to stop and relax.

Yet, if we don't stop and breathe ... we will not recharge. Breathing is such an automatic thing yet when done properly it can be a very powerful way to decrease stress and anxiety. It is another effective stress reduction tool. It is a great way to ground yourself, rebalance and centre yourself. We tend to "shallow breathe" when we are upset or stressed. If you've been there and I know you have, ...pause and do this simple exercise.

Take a full, deep breath in from your diaphram, expand your rib cage and allow your lungs to fill up with oxygen. Breathe slowly and completely in through your nose. Now hold your breath for about 4-5 seconds, then exhale through your mouth, slowly. Do this several times in a row whenever you're feeling overwhelmed, anxious or stressed and you will find your body rebalancing itself.

So, where does the joy of life come from. It comes from seeing beyond yourself and your circumstance(s) and also from looking within. It comes from recognizing that joy stems from an internal awarenes, that who I am is ok. It comes from changing unhealthy thoughts that result in increased anxiety or stress. It is about awareness of your needs and meeting them on a moment by moment basis i.e. self-care.

Have you checked in with yourself today? Have you exercised today? Have you taken some deep healthy breaths? Have you reached out for support? When life seems like too much to handle ... take the time to ask yourself, "What do I need right now?" Self-care and truly experiencing joy and self-acceptance, comes from knowing when to reach out beyond yourself and getting the support you need.

You're worth it!

Best of health and warmest regards, Paul Radkowski