I function, so what’s the problem?


Things that told me I was addicted to alcohol despite holding down a job (sometimes three at once), home, family relationships, managing money and staying ‘healthy’ through the gym, running and eating well – in other words despite functioning in life were:

– Choosing a drink instead of eating as it kept the weight down (not the bloat though) and anyway after a few drinks I lost my appetite.

– Finding that as the years went on I was getting fewer really major hangovers and just felt shit all the time, but dealt with it by keeping busy and making a joke of it, as so much in my life.

– Really anxious, panicky, irritable when a drink wasn’t likely in the evening, such as if I had to work late or social pressures meant proper drinking (meaning heavy drinking) was off the radar.

– My character changed after a drink; my husband has lately told me how he dreaded me drinking because I became aggressive and snappy, or else too lazy to be bothered with anything and he also often felt lonely when I drank. Or I would do/say impulsive things which didn’t make sense. Either way, I wasn’t Binki.

– I could never leave a bottle till it was fnished, and the thought of that unfinished bottle was enough to drive me crazy. Likewise a glass had to be emptied (even someone else’s). If having people round or going out to eat, the table shouldn’t have any half finished drinks on it and the alcohol bill was often bigger than the food bill, but that was a sign of a good night.

– There was always a part of the previous evening that I couldn’t remember, quite often the end of it, and the details would be filled in by others, quite often as a joke, but sometimes as a developing row.

– If anyone tried to confront or talk to me me about the possibility that I was drinking too much I would be defensive, or at the very least deflect the conversation, again wth a joke. I would metaphorically delete the conversation.

– I could always explain why I had to have a drink. Very rationally and articulately. There was always a very good reason. Unshakeable reasons.

– I sometimes hid alcohol. My husband for instance was given a bottle of Jack Daniels for his birthday once and I told him I had chucked it out as I didn’t want alcohol in the house (another vain attempt to ‘cut down’) but actually it was hidden by me under the sink and I had sips from it as I cooked each night. He perfectly well knew where it was! I also kept vodka in the freezer under the frozen chips etc with the same motive, not to mention the open wine behind the pans in the kitchen to glug from while the petite glassful sat untouched in the living room.

These were some of my signs – I was functioning in life and people with passing acquaintance assumed I was normal in the most part…but really my daily battles with cravings took up most of my thought processes, looking back. If you have read any of the above and thought me too, I hope you are now enjoying your sobriety and you have surely done the right thing.

If you are reading this and thinking, I still do that, please do know there is much support out there on social networking, in face to face support groups and in the form of professional help, but you must come out of denial before you can move on, just as myself and my sober companions eventually had to do – many of us after decades of drinking, as a ‘functional’ person in life. It can be done.

Learning by doing

Everyone has a different learning style and for many of us the only way to get the hang of something (like not drinking) is by actually trying it out. We can read and talk and learn from others but until we actually do it for ourselves the words mean nothing. I found this story to illustrate learning by doing:

I recently had the excellent experience of a days off road rally driving adventure with one of my bestest mates in the world. This all took place in Yorkshire on a WWII airfield. All in a rear wheel souped up purpose built car.

So all I wanted was to experience driving. To do it. Here is what happened.

One of the driving tutors did an introductory speech, before we were allowed into the cars. This consisted of an energetic build up, which was very good and then they went into ‘how’ a rear wheel drive car works and how we ( the participants – all 11 of us ) should drive the car.

I switched off ( you surprised? ) just after 10 minutes of explanations of what was coming and how to do it – explanations of experience. I was literally chomping at the bit, ready to get into the car and just do it. I want the physical experience without all of the explanations. See for me, I much prefer doing something and then maybe talking about it; after the experience …

Luck would have it, I had the same tutor as a driving instructor. After lap one they had me pull up and then went into an explanation of what I should do on the next lap. I know they meant well but their explanations where not helping me build up my experiential knowledge of driving the car. So I told them that what they were saying wasn’t helping me learn to drive.

They responded that they had never been told that before and immediately went into more ‘helpful’ hints and tips. At that point I simply said “Shut up …and help me”. I told them that their help while driving was extremely useful ( it was ) but all this ‘if you had done’, ‘what you should do at corner ‘x’ was to me really unwanted at my present level of experience.

They said they would work with me and went into a story that they had helped a man with severe brain damage successfully drive the car by just offering tips while driving. I said that was a good idea; still not sure about the brain damage.
But hey …

Well, when the competition started; Yes there was a competition, set up
between male and female drivers ( ??? ). With the real assistance of my tutor I did come second place overall. Now, I was never for one heart beat interested in a competition on that day, I am guessing that comes much later when I have the skills to race! Vroooom vrooommm!

So here is my point. When we are learning a new skill, by choice or by
necessity, there is nothing wrong and everything right with demanding an
experiential learning.

When we were little, much younger, we learned to speak and walk
( things we are naturally excellent at ) by experience and not via verbal
description. This is my much preferred and valued learning style.

What is yours? How do you learn at your best? Is the actual experience of not drinking the way you learned how to do it, or did you/do you learn better by seeing/reading/hearing how others do it? If you know your learning style, you are potentially much more likely to succeed at anything you choose to do.

How to tell if you are an alcoholic

article by Sarah Hepola from http://www.BuzzFeed.com

My twentysomething social life was one long drink special. Margaritas with a crust of salt on the rim, a frosty pint spilling foam, and the always regrettable “Who wants shots?”

I had always assumed my drinking would calm down after I graduated college. Instead, it ramped up. The bars opened their pearly gates to me, and I sank into those velvet banquettes and ripped vinyl couches.

I sometimes wondered if I had a problem. I had a tendency to black out — to forget episodes from a night of drinking, even though I remained surprisingly functional (well, “functional” may not be the word for someone pouring beer on her own head) — and every pamphlet, doctor’s questionnaire, and glossy magazine quiz I took listed blackouts as a risk factor for alcoholism.

The problem with checklists for alcoholism is that they look a lot like, well, being young. Do you ever drink to get drunk? Have you ever gone to work with a hangover? They might as well ask: Have you ever been 25?

Over the following decade, I kept wondering about my drinking, as my bar bills grew steeper — Patron instead of Jose Cuervo — and my taste more refined. I continued to build the case that my drinking was normal, totally normal. See that guy over there? He’s at the bar every night. At least I’m not that bad. I had a good job, I never crashed my car. And yet, I was stuck.

There is a saying among former drunks: “At first drinking is fun, then fun with problems, then just problems.” By my mid-thirties, I had found myself in the “problems” portion of the evening.

I quit drinking at the age of 35. How did I know it was time? I arrived at a preponderance of the evidence. Some people do have a lightning flash of recognition, but for me it was more of a slow dawning. I had to sift through data, gather bits of knowledge. I took health surveys online. I talked to my therapist. I read the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous (the bible of AA) and many alcoholism memoirs: Drinking: A Love Story, and Lit, and Smashed, and A Drinking Life, and The Tender Bar, all of which offer compelling and varied tales of people who put the cap back on the bottle for good. Listening to other people’s stories may have helped me more than anything else. The more I heard other people’s struggles, the more I found words for my own.

The following is a list of aha moments for me. It is not an authoritative list; it’s simply one person’s experience. I can’t stress this enough. What alcoholism looked like for me may not be what it looked like for someone else, and how I define alcoholism may be different from a medical professional (they use the phrase “alcohol use disorder”) or another problem drinker. I really can’t tell anyone else if they have a drinking problem, or if they’re an alcoholic, or if they need to quit. These are complicated questions you must answer on your own. What I can do is show you how I answered these questions for myself.

Does alcohol interfere with your work?

I spent my early career at alternative newsweeklies, where beer was sometimes kept in the fridge, and anyone walking in with sunglasses and a hangover got a high-five. You see this spirit at many companies with lots of employees in their twenties: Get the work done, and we don’t ask questions.

For a long time, I was getting the work done, which is probably why none of my bosses ever confronted me about my drinking. By my thirties, I had developed some red-flag habits. In the evenings, I kept a bottle of wine by my side. I brought my laptop to the bar, and drank pints while I wrote stories. I had an insane workload, and the drinking was partly an attempt to make it tolerable. I told myself I deserved the booze, and the work didn’t suffer. But then it did.

One morning, I came into my Manhattan office at 10:30 a.m., having stayed up drinking till 4, and my deeply beloved assistant editor Gchatted me at my desk: “You might want to chew some gum.” He could still smell the booze on me, because I was still drunk. Another morning, I called in sick because my hangover was so toxic I couldn’t possibly make it without vomiting on myself in a cab or a subway. My friends at work emailed me condolences, and I felt like such a loser.

I stopped being able to write. I had panic attacks when I woke at 5 a.m. If you’ve ever had a high-pressure position, then you know these can also be part of your job description. But the data points start to converge: Drinking WAS interfering with my ability to work. I was not functioning so well anymore, and it’s debatable if I ever really had been.

Do you lie about your drinking?

Like lying about your weight, lying about your drinking is something many people who are not alcoholics do. “How many did you have, honey?” “Oh, two.” They do it for benign reasons (they forgot) and slightly sketchy ones (to avoid an argument, to maintain a perfect image). But how often are you lying? And why?

I engaged in the typical “downscaling of the number” when necessary, but I did other things. In New York, I would go out to dinner with friends, share a bottle of wine or two, and then stop by the bodega on my way home to buy a six-pack of beer. I did this because even after a night of drinking, I needed more. I would sometimes find myself dropping casual lies to the guy who worked at the bodega about how I was just hanging out with a friend at home. Why was I lying to the guy at the bodega?

Because I knew what I was doing was wrong.

I lived alone at the time, and could drink as I wished without anyone’s commentary, but I could feel the watchful eyes of those bodega guys, who probably saw my wine-stained mouth and my droopy eyes. Mostly I tried to get out of there without any interaction at all.

Other humans can be a valuable metric for our own behavior. Are you afraid of getting caught at something? It might be because what you’re doing is wrong.

Have you had regrettable drunken sexual encounters?

Once again, these can be a part of youthful recklessness. But they can also take a chunk from your soul. The first few times I had a drunken one-night stand, I was excited. Even in my thirties, I retained the idea that such a collision was adventurous, a measure of my desirability and bravado. I didn’t regret those encounters, in other words, and if society says I should, who cares?

But the scenarios grew more dangerous, more cringe-inducing. I came out of a blackout in a Paris hotel room in the middle of having sex with a stranger. They were not a measure of my bravado so much as my carelessness, a misplaced need for connection. This is one to watch, whatever your gender. Alcohol and consent can make very complicated bedfellows.

Do you constantly use the phrase “I need a drink”?

I know everyone says it. I’ve seen Facebook. It can be another way of saying “I’ve had a long day.” Or “I’m going to lose my mind.” What I found, though, was that I needed a drink in just about EVERY situation. When I was happy, when I was sad, when I was bored, when I was lonely. When I was sitting on the futon, watching Flavor of Love. (Maybe “drunk” is the only acceptable way to watch Flavor of Love.) I avoided crowded bars where I didn’t have easy access to a cocktail waitress or a friendly bartender quick with the buybacks. No hot spots for me. And when my friends said, “I need a drink,” they often went to the bar for a couple hours and headed home. I left the tab open all night.

When you start drinking, do you find it hard to stop?

For years, I would go to parties swearing I would have one drink, and then I would come out of the party having had eight. What the hell just happened? I was a person of my word, a person of (some) discipline. Well, for one thing, alcohol is a disinhibiting agent that lowers your judgment; everyone finds it hard to keep their promises after drinking. But more crucially: My body responded to alcohol differently than other people.

I have friends who pass out after two drinks. Friends who have a glass of wine, and then say they are done. (“Done”? What is “done”?) I never understood that. Alcohol was like cocaine to me, probably one reason I never bothered to try cocaine. Booze lit a match inside me; I was often up all night.

The first time I read the phrase “the phenomenon of craving” was in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous. As soon as I saw the words, I knew exactly what they described, a sensation I had experienced for years. When I drank, I needed more. If I was drinking, and someone interrupted the drinking — say, the alcohol ran out at the party, or we had to change locations — I experienced the itchy dislocation I imagine daily smokers get when they need a fix. I was the person at your party scouring your liquor cabinet after the keg had floated. I was the person who hammered the wine cork into the wine bottle because nobody had a corkscrew.

“I can’t stop” is one of the key distinctions between a “drinking problem” and “alcoholism,” to my mind. Other people have their definitions, but this is mine. When you have a “drinking problem,” you have some hope of walking it back, of moderating the behavior. With alcoholism, you are done. You cannot moderate, because one drink will never be enough. That’s why your best line of defense is to never start drinking again — which is exactly what no drinker ever wants to hear.

Are you often coming up with new ways to control your drinking?

A short list of things I have done in order to manage my own drinking: I stopped drinking brown liquor; I drank only on weekends; I stopped drinking red wine and only drank white; I never drank before 5 p.m.; I drank a glass of water between every cocktail; I stopped taking shots. None of this worked. Or, rather, it worked for a week, or a year, and then I was back in the muck again.

One night, desperate for someone to save me, I called a woman who had some experience with this stuff. “But I just don’t KNOW if I’m an alcoholic,” I said to her. There was no blood test. No home kit. It was on me.

She told me to try some controlled drinking. I liked the sound of that. The “controlled drinking” experiment — for six months, you drink between one and three drinks, no excuses — is actually a marvelously practical way to test to see if you have a problem. I failed in three days, tried it again and failed it in a week. Then I stopped taking the test. Drinking only two or three beers a night felt like holding my breath underwater. I hated it. I needed more. I didn’t quit immediately after that. I still had a year of mourning and clinging to do. But it nudged me further toward defeat. It was becoming clear I couldn’t lick this thing by myself.

What is your family history?

There is a common saying in addiction literature: “Genetics loads the gun, and environment pulls the trigger.” My heritage is a mix of two strong drinking cultures, Irish and Finnish. (If you don’t know whether your genetic heritage tilts toward boozehoundery, take a look at this list of the world’s heaviest-drinking countries, and my apologies to those from Eastern Europe.) My parents never drank much when I was a kid, but my family trees have quite a few empty bottles underneath them. My genetic predisposition to drinking was great for me at first. I was the “girl who could hold her liquor” (though from 1 a.m. onward, I did have a tendency to spill it).

Ultimately, this was a target on my forehead. “The girl who can hold her liquor” and “the guy who parties the hardest” have a way of finding their way to metal fold-out chairs in fluorescent rooms.

Have friends confronted you about your drinking?

This was a big one for me. Until my friends started talking to me about my drinking, I had convinced myself we were all basically the same. This is how we all drink, right? Everyone thinks I’m funny when I’m drunk, right? No and no. I was lucky that instead of just cutting me off, like many people might have, a couple of my friends sat me down and told me they were worried about me. That was the phrase my friends often used: worried about you. They didn’t count my drinks, which would have incited me to argue. They didn’t even say, “You drink too much.” They said, “I’m scared something’s going to happen to you” and “I care about you.” At first, I was so angry. What the hell? They drank too. But they didn’t drink like I did. I wasn’t holding it together, and they did me the favor of telling me in gentle, loving, and honest ways.

Do you black out?

For decades, the medical community thought that blackouts were a sign you were headed straight into alcoholism. More recent research has suggested the link isn’t so direct. In a 2002 study at Duke, more than half of the drinkers had experienced a blackout. They are a common fixture in a college drinking environment defined by pregaming, shot contests, and drinking on an empty stomach (all risk factors for blackout).

So having one blackout, or two blackouts, does not necessarily indicate a problem. But continuing to have blackouts — having them over the years, or having them despite your efforts not to have them — suggests an inability to moderate, which is the crux of the whole issue. It suggests that you continue to put yourself in harm’s way, despite pretty shocking consequences. (It is incredibly freaky to have a blackout, and dangerous.) It suggests that you are consistently drinking yourself to a risky level of intoxication. Katy Perry songs are all fine and good, but let’s be clear on something: Blackouts are not funny, and they are not OK.

Are you spending an inordinate amount of time wondering if you have a drinking problem?

It’s healthy to occasionally question your consumption. But an obsession on the subject suggests less ambivalence and more denial. People who don’t have a problem rarely stay up reading everything on the internet about drinking. People who don’t have a problem rarely stay in their head for entire Sunday afternoons reading theories about addiction.

If you are that person, what can I tell you? Probably nothing you don’t already know.
I told a friend I was writing this story and asked what she would have wanted to hear, back when she was trying to quit. “Oh, I didn’t ask anybody if I had a drinking problem,” she said. “I knew I did.”

By the end, I knew too. I just wanted a different answer. I wanted the answer to be “Here is this miracle pill.” Or “Hey, drink this raw vitamin juice.” Anything, ANYTHING but “stop drinking.” If you are a drinker, you want to drink. I didn’t need another survey. I didn’t need another medical professional. What I needed was to hear from someone on the other side who could assure me that life wouldn’t be over.

So let me assure you now. The answer is: Not even close.

Sarah Hepola’s memoir, Blackout: Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget, came out June 23 from Grand Central. She is the personal essays editor at Salon.

Nostalgia = old pain


Thank you to Fiona swan for the article at the end and for letting me know that ”Nostalgia comes from Greek for”old pain”. Do you really want that back??? ”


Hello, hope all good with you. Went to the beach directly after work tonight. I find that it breaks up the transition from getting in and settling in, if that makes sense; stops the wired feeling from being quite as bad. While walking along the sand I realised that this holiday coming up will be my first ever abroad where I don’t drink every day, from early afternoon onwards, well into the night.

The lure of outside drinking, restaurant drinking, beach drinking, pool drinking,drinking while barbecuing, drinking while watching the sun go down, drinking with friends around a table in the dark with just a candle flickering, drinking after a long day sight seeing, drinking while sight seeing, drinking on a boat…oh my.

No idea why the full extremity of doing all those things with a drink on board has hit me this evening, but it did. I am not going to lie and say that when my hub talks about getting a bottle of Mythos and sitting with it on our balcony it doesn’t make me feel a massive swish of nostalgia. It really does.

I am working really hard at the moment to deal with the nostalgia and the false recall really of what it was actually like. The hangover, the waiting to drink, the thirst and headaches, the money (very much so), the poorly tum and shattered looking face in the mirror, the shaking hands, the dumb things that are said and done.

We do have a tendency to remember the good bits and forget the real reason why we decided drinking is not a good idea. Going on holiday abroad will be my biggest test to date and with this in mind I am being especially vigilant in my thinking processes and remembering that even at two years, I am still as vulnerable as anyone else. Addiction sets us traps and it doesn’t matter how far into recovery we are, we are still at risk.


Danger of Nostalgia in Recovery

Benefits and Dangers of Memories

Memories of the past can be like old friends. This is why people like to keep photographs from the childhood and listen to the same music they enjoyed during their school years. Such memories can remind the individual of a time when life felt easier and when deceased loved ones were still alive. Life would be far less satisfying without these memories but if people overindulge in nostalgia it can be detrimental to them. If people are recovering from an addiction but they are nostalgic for those days when they were still engaged in substance abuse, it may be a warning that they are about to relapse. It can also occur that people are so focused on the past that they fail to appreciate what they have in the present.

Nostalgia Defined

Nostalgia can be defined as wistful or excessively sentimental, sometimes abnormal yearning for return to or of some past period or irrecoverable condition – it is a type of emotion. It usually refers to some idealized form of the past that never really existed. When people are feeling nostalgic they will only tend to remember the good things and forget about the bad. So if an individual is feeling nostalgic for their childhood it will seem as if every day was perfect – even though that is highly unlikely to have been the case. Occasional feelings of nostalgia are normal, but if people are constantly romanticizing about the past it can prevent them from enjoying their current life. The Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Herb Cain once referred to nostalgia as a memory with the pain removed.

Difference Between Nostalgia and Homesickness

The words nostalgia and homesickness can sometimes be confused. This is hardly surprising as nostalgia comes from a Latin word that means homecoming. In fact originally nostalgia was used to describe a sickness that a person experiences when they are not in their native land. In modern usage the word nostalgia is mostly used to describe a yearning for the past – a place that the individual can never return to. Homesickness differs from this because the individual will usually have the option to go home.

Causes of Nostalgia

There can be a number of reasons for why people become nostalgic about the past:

* It can be a positive experience because the person is reminded of good things that happened to them in the past. It is perfectly normal to occasionally dwell on these nice memories.
* Hearing old songs or meeting old friends can trigger this emotion. School reunions are special social occasions where nostalgia is encouraged.
* Fear of death can mean that the individual feels safer looking to the past rather than thinking about the future.
* These memories may play an important role in the development of identity. The back story allows people to make sense of their current life.
* It can be an important element of social bonding. A group of friends can share their memories of the past and this reminds them of their closeness.
* If people are fearful about the future they are more likely to look upon the past as a safer place. For example, when there is a great deal of financial or social insecurity people tend to become more focused on the past.
* People experience dissatisfaction with their current life.
* When people are dealing with a great deal of stress they can yearn for a time when things seemed to be simpler.
* Bereavement can mean that the individual may yearn from a time when their loved ones were still alive.
* If people have low self esteem they may think back to a time when they seemed to be more in control of their life.

Dangers of Nostalgia

Nostalgia can be described as a disorder of the imagination where the mind is dwelling on past memories while losing interest in the present. The dangers associated with nostalgia include:

* It can become an emotional disorder that negatively impacts the individual’s life. The person dealing with this emotion may find it difficult to appreciate anything in their current life.
* Nostalgia may prevent the individual from making the most of their current circumstances. They will not have the motivation to work towards goals and get things done.
* It can lead to symptoms such as insomnia and heart palpitations. It can also lead to symptoms of depression.
* It may mean that the individual suffers from a great deal of anxiety and feelings of powerlessness.
* It can lead to a loss of interest in food and the person may become unwilling to take care of their physical health.
* It may lead to thoughts of suicide.

Nostalgia in Recovery

Nostalgia can be dangerous for people who are recovering from an addiction. This is particularly true if the individual is constantly thinking about the period of their life when they were using alcohol or drugs. This kind of nostalgia is sometimes referred to as romancing the drink or drug. When people first become sober they will have no problem remembering how bad they felt in the midst of addiction. Over time the memory of the pain can fade, and the individual can start to remember times when alcohol or drugs seemed to be their friend. If the individual allows such nostalgia to continue it may lead them to once again return to alcohol or drug abuse.

How to Escape Excessive Nostalgia

The actress Jeanne Moreau made an interesting claim that can help put nostalgia into perspective:

> My life is very exciting now. Nostalgia for what? It’s like climbing a staircase. I’m on the top of the staircase, I look behind and see the steps. That’s where I was. We’re here right now. Tomorrow, we’ll be someplace else. So why nostalgia?

Occasionally thinking about the past is not a bad thing, and it may even be necessary for mental health. It is only when people are overly nostalgic that it becomes problematic. It is vital that those who are recovering from an addiction, but are romanticizing that period of their life, take action to limit this thinking. People can escape excessive nostalgia by:

* If people are working hard to build a good life now they will be less likely to dwell too much on the past. This means that it is important to have goals in life and to work towards these.
* If a person in recovery is remembering the good times of drinking or drug using they need to tackle these memories head on. They need to remember how they really felt during the midst of addiction and why this drove them to yearn for escape.
* It is understandable that as people get older they prefer to enjoy music, movies, and other forms of entertainment from previous decades, but it can also be a good idea to stay interested in what is popular now.
* There is no time in history that was ever perfect. It is good that people remind themselves of this and avoid glorifying the past excessively.
* People are never too old to try new things and experiment. Such an open minded and adventurous attitude will help to keep the individual feeling young.
* If the individual is dealing with excessive stress in their life they will need to develop tools for dealing with this. Relaxation techniques can be a great help with this.
* If people are struggling to cope with bereavement they might benefit from some type of counseling.
* Many people who have a history of addictive behavior will have low self esteem and this can make them more prone to nostalgia. They can increase their own self worth by setting small goals and achieving these – as their confidence grows they will be able to achieve more and more.



10 Thinking Errors That Will Crush Your Mental Strength

Source: Lucky Business/Shutterstock

Mental strength requires a three-pronged approach—managing our thoughts, regulating our emotions, and behaving productively despite our circumstances.

While all three areas can be a struggle, it’s often our thoughts that make it most difficult to be mentally strong.

As we go about our daily routines, our internal monologue narrates our experience. Our self-talk guides our behavior and influences the way we interact with others. It also plays a major role in how you feel about yourself, other people, and the world in general.

Quite often, however, our conscious thoughts aren’t realistic; they’re irrational and inaccurate. Believing our irrational thoughts can lead to problems including communication issues, relationship problems, and unhealthy decisions.

Whether you’re striving to reach personal or professional goals, the key to success often starts with recognizing and replacing inaccurate thoughts. The most common thinking errors can be divided into these 10 categories, which are adapted from David Burns’s book, Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy (link is external).

1. All-or-Nothing Thinking
Sometimes we see things as being black or white: Perhaps you have two categories of coworkers in your mind—the good ones and the bad ones. Or maybe you look at each project as either a success or a failure. Recognize the shades of gray, rather than putting things in terms of all good or all bad.

2. Overgeneralizing
It’s easy to take one particular event and generalize it to the rest of our life. If you failed to close one deal, you may decide, “I’m bad at closing deals.” Or if you are treated poorly by one family member, you might think, “Everyone in my family is rude.” Take notice of times when an incident may apply to only one specific situation, instead of all other areas of life.

3. Filtering Out the Positive
If nine good things happen, and one bad thing, sometimes we filter out the good and hone in on the bad. Maybe we declare we had a bad day, despite the positive events that occurred. Or maybe we look back at our performance and declare it was terrible because we made a single mistake. Filtering out the positive can prevent you from establishing a realistic outlook on a situation. Develop a balanced outlook by noticing both the positive and the negative.

4. Mind-Reading
We can never be sure what someone else is thinking. Yet, everyone occasionally assumes they know what’s going on in someone else’s mind. Thinking things like, “He must have thought I was stupid at the meeting,” makes inferences that aren’t necessarily based on reality. Remind yourself that you may not be making accurate guesses about other people’s perceptions.

5. Catastrophizing
Sometimes we think things are much worse than they actually are. If you fall short on meeting your financial goals one month you may think, “I’m going to end up bankrupt,” or “I’ll never have enough money to retire,” even though there’s no evidence that the situation is nearly that dire. It can be easy to get swept up into catastrophizing a situation once your thoughts become negative. When you begin predicting doom and gloom, remind yourself that there are many other potential outcomes.

6. Emotional Reasoning
Our emotions aren’t always based on reality but we often assume those feelings are rational. If you’re worried about making a career change, you might assume, “If I’m this scared about it, I just shouldn’t change jobs.” Or, you may be tempted to assume, “If I feel like a loser, I must be a loser.” It’s essential to recognize that emotions, just like our thoughts, aren’t always based on the facts.

7. Labeling
Labeling involves putting a name to something. Instead of thinking, “He made a mistake,” you might label your neighbor as “an idiot.” Labeling people and experiences places them into categories that are often based on isolated incidents. Notice when you try to categorize things and work to avoid placing mental labels on everything.

8. Fortune-telling
Although none of us knows what will happen in the future, we sometimes like to try our hand at fortune-telling. We think things like, “I’m going to embarrass myself tomorrow,” or “If I go on a diet, I’ll probably just gain weight.” These types of thoughts can become self-fulfilling prophecies if you’re not careful. When you’re predicting doom and gloom, remind yourself of all the other possible outcomes.

9. Personalization
As much as we’d like to say we don’t think the world revolves around us, it’s easy to personalize everything. If a friend doesn’t call back, you may assume, “She must be mad at me,” or if a co-worker is grumpy, you might conclude, “He doesn’t like me.” When you catch yourself personalizing situations, take time to point out other possible factors that may be influencing the circumstances.

10. Unreal Ideal
Making unfair comparisons about ourselves and other people can ruin our motivation. Looking at someone who has achieved much success and thinking, “I should have been able to do that,” isn’t helpful, especially if that person had some lucky breaks or competitive advantages along the way. Rather than measuring your life against someone else’s, commit to focusing on your own path to success.

Fixing Thinking Errors
Once you recognize your thinking errors, you can begin trying to challenge those thoughts. Look for exceptions to the rule and gather evidence that your thoughts aren’t 100% true. Then, you can begin replacing them with more realistic thoughts.

The goal doesn’t need to be to replace negative thoughts with overly idealistic or positive ones. Instead, replace them with realistic thoughts. Changing the way you think takes a lot of effort initially, but with practice, you’ll notice big changes—not just in the way you think, but also in the way you feel and behave. You can make peace with the past, look at the present differently, and think about the future in a way that will support your chances of reaching your goals.

Amy Morin is a licensed clinical social worker and an internationally recognized expert on mental strength. Her new book, 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do: Take Back Your Power, Embrace Change, Face Your Fears, and Train Your Brain for Happiness and Success (link is external), is filled with strategies and exercises to help you avoid those common pitfalls that can prevent you from reaching your full potential. Watch the video trailer below to learn about her personal story behind the book.

Visit my website (link is external), like me on Facebook (link is external), and follow me on Twitter (link is external)@AmyMorinLCSW (link is external)

How Alcohol Impacts Your Hormones

Extracted from:


Women retain fluids longer than men, and metabolize the chemicals in alcohol at a slower rate. That means that in general, the impact of alcohol is much stronger on women.

At the same time, alcohol forces the liver to dip into your store of antioxidants and vitamin C to break it down — leaving you vitamin and mineral deficient. It’s also dehydrating, and you lose hormone-balancing magnesium and B vitamins.

Plus, alcohol raises your estrogen levels, which can worsen symptoms of estrogen-dominant health issues like Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, fibroids and endometriosis.

And although we tend to reach for a drink when we want to feel happy or sexy, alcohol is actually a depressant — it drains the adrenals and causes you to feel tired and down.

Lastly, alcohol disrupts your blood sugar function. And when we drink, we also tend to make unhealthy food choices, which further exacerbates the problem.


Detox suggested in the article:

First thing in the morning:

  • Take a B vitamin complex, and have a glass of warm water with lemon to flush your liver.
  • Drink a 16 oz glass of my favorite liver support juice. Combine a handful of spinach, one carrot, four stalks of celery, half a cucumber, half a bunch of cilantro, one-third a bunch of parsley, half a lemon with rind and half a green apple in a blender or juicer.
  • Enjoy a breakfast of two poached eggs, a half cup of quinoa, half an avocado and two tablespoons of sauerkraut.

Middle of the day:

  • Eat a big lunch — brown rice, miso glazed salmon and kale or bok choy in soy sauce — to replenish the micronutrients you have lost and balance sodium levels.
  • Drink coconut water to replenish your electrolytes, and take a magnesium and calcium supplement.
  • Step out into the sun for 15 minutes, with no sunscreen, to boost lost vitamin D3 stores.


  • Drink bone broth or have chicken soup to soothe the inflammation from the booze.
  • Do yoga twists. These moves will help to detoxify your internal organs and prevent a backup of estrogen.
  • Head to bed early to detoxify your brain’s immune system.

Remember: Once you have the right information about how your body really works, you can start making health choices that work for you.


Everything Is Awful and I’m Not Okay: questions to ask before giving up


Are you hydrated?  If not, have a glass of water.

Have you eaten in the past three hours?  If not, get some food — something with protein, not just simple carbs.  Perhaps some nuts or hummus?

Have you showered in the past day?  If not, take a shower right now.

If daytime: are you dressed?  If not, put on clean clothes that aren’t pajamas.  Give yourself permission to wear something special, whether it’s a funny t-shirt or a pretty dress.

If nighttime: are you sleepy and fatigued but resisting going to sleep?  Put on pajamas, make yourself cozy in bed with a teddy bear and the sound of falling rain, and close your eyes for fifteen minutes — no electronic screens allowed.  If you’re still awake after that, you can get up again; no pressure.

Have you stretched your legs in the past day?  If not, do so right now.  If you don’t have the spoons for a run or trip to the gym, just walk around the block, then keep walking as long as you please.  If the weather’s crap, drive to a big box store (e.g. Target) and go on a brisk walk through the aisles you normally skip.

Have you said something nice to someone in the past day?  Do so, whether online or in person.  Make it genuine; wait until you see something really wonderful about someone, and tell them about it.

Have you moved your body to music in the past day?  If not, do so — jog for the length of an EDM song at your favorite BPM, or just dance around the room for the length of an upbeat song.

Have you cuddled a living being in the past two days?  If not, do so.  Don’t be afraid to ask for hugs from friends or friends’ pets.  Most of them will enjoy the cuddles too; you’re not imposing on them.

Do you feel ineffective?  Pause right now and get something small completed, whether it’s responding to an e-mail, loading up the dishwasher, or packing your gym bag for your next trip.  Good job!

Do you feel unattractive?  Take a goddamn selfie.  Your friends will remind you how great you look, and you’ll fight society’s restrictions on what beauty can look like.

Do you feel paralyzed by indecision?  Give yourself ten minutes to sit back and figure out a game plan for the day.  If a particular decision or problem is still being a roadblock, simply set it aside for now, and pick something else that seems doable.  Right now, the important part is to break through that stasis, even if it means doing something trivial.

Have you seen a therapist in the past few days?  If not, hang on until your next therapy visit and talk through things then.

Have you been over-exerting yourself lately — physically, emotionally, socially, or intellectually?  That can take a toll that lingers for days. Give yourself a break in that area, whether it’s physical rest, taking time alone, or relaxing with some silly entertainment.

Have you changed any of your medications in the past couple of weeks, including skipped doses or a change in generic prescription brand?  That may be screwing with your head.  Give things a few days, then talk to your doctor if it doesn’t settle down.

Have you waited a week?  Sometimes our perception of life is skewed, and we can’t even tell that we’re not thinking clearly, and there’s no obvious external cause.  It happens.  Keep yourself going for a full week, whatever it takes, and see if you still feel the same way then.

You’ve made it this far, and you will make it through.  You are stronger than you think.

This post is available as a downloadable one-page PDF here.

Some people have asked about making this into a poster or redistributing it.  This post is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License: alteration and redistribution are welcome as long as you attribute my tumblr.  For some background and FAQ about the post, see my follow-up post.