On Your Mind | Mark Manderson | Addiction Recovery

 

Embracing the principle of personal accountability for our emotions and beliefs propels us toward a life rich in fulfillment and purpose. In this episode, Timothy J. Hayes talks with Mark Manderson about Mark’s book, The Recovery Way, which lays out a comprehensive framework to create the life you desire free from addiction. They discuss how recognizing and taking ownership of our emotions can lead to better decision-making, improved relationships, and a more meaningful life journey. Gain insights on identifying and challenging negative thought patterns and explore practical strategies for managing emotions healthily. This episode goes beyond recovery. It shows you how to build a life you love.

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Mark Manderson, Author Of The Recovery Way: How To Heal From Any Addiction And Start Enjoying Life Again

Mark Manderson is a renowned expert in the addiction field. With over twenty years of experience, he has dedicated his career to helping individuals overcome addiction and find lasting recovery. Mark’s unique approach combines evidence-based methods with holistic principles, providing individuals with a comprehensive path to healing and transformation.

Mark recognizes that addiction can be a relentless cycle trapping some individuals in a never-ending spiral of chaos, while others find the strength to break free and create a life filled with happiness and fulfillment. In his book, The Recovery Way: How to Heal from Any Addiction and Start Enjoying Life Again, he shares a step-by-step blueprint to help individuals overcome addiction and reclaim their lives.

Mark, it’s good to see you. Thanks for joining us.

Thank you so much for having me on. I am excited to be here with you.

I was hoping you could get us started by telling us a little bit about how you got into the work you do, what drives your passion for it, and what’s going on with this book you’re doing.

One of the main questions people ask in the addiction mental health field is, how old were you when you first got introduced to drugs? I was eight years old. I was very young, but it’s not the typical story. I walked in on my aunt overdosing. As a young kid, not understanding it, I went and grabbed my mom, and thankfully, my mom revived her.

She was living with us at the time, but unfortunately, it was me, my sister, and my mom. My mom ended up kicking her out because she put our life in harm’s way. The same thing happened about 2 or 3 months later, but there was no one there to revive her. She died of an overdose. From a very young age, I was aware of drugs and how it negatively affects our family.

Growing up through life, I don’t know why, but I thought I was immune. I thought, “I won’t do drugs and life’s going to be very easy.” Through high school and college, life pretty much kicked the crap out of me. It got to a point where life got so dark for me that I left one day. It was back in 2003 with the intent to take my own life. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to live. It was that I didn’t want to live in the pain.

Since drugs weren’t an option for me, I didn’t want to live. I didn’t know what to do. Ironically, as I started talking with different people and learning about people going through pain who were actively using this drug addiction, I started to see that we all have pain that we carry. I got good at masking that. I started seeing more and more people using drugs and alcohol as a way to cope with that.

Back in probably 2005 is when I first started working in the mental health and addiction field wanting to give back to help. I had gone through some trauma growing up and a few different things. I saw that so many people were carrying the guilt and the shame. I know I felt alone when I was hiding that and when the family would check in, I always gave the proverbial like, “I’m good.” I got good at wearing masks and telling people what I thought they wanted to hear.

I started seeing this again and again. I thought, “What if the drugs or the alcohol isn’t necessarily the problem? What if that’s the solution so many people turn to as a way to cope?” If we started digging and getting to the core issue and doing the work, the organic byproducts would be no longer the desire to numb, sedate, drink, use, gamble, have sex, or whatever it is that a person’s struggling with.

I started working for a family company. It’s called Pacific Shores Recovery out here on the West Coast in Orange County, California. As I started seeing people in the same program, I would follow up a few months later and I’d see some people flourishing and living a tremendous life and other people struggling in the same cycle. I thought I didn’t get it. I was there. I saw the groups they were in and the therapists they worked with. They had very similar experiences, but some were applying what they learned and some weren’t.

I’ve been ignorant enough to ask why and not care what others think so I kept asking why. “Why are some doing so well? Why are others struggling?” I don’t know how many people that I called and followed up. I asked what worked and what didn’t work. I started seeing this trend. I wrote about it in the book. The name of the book is The Recovery Way.

On Your Mind | Mark Manderson | Addiction Recovery

The Recovery Way: How To Heal From Any Addiction And Start Enjoying Life Again

The trend I saw is there are five different areas in life where each person that was thriving was doing a little bit of work every single day. It wasn’t like this huge thing of spending hours on one aspect and ignoring the others. The ones that seem to have a good hold on life and enjoy the ups and the downs. We call them the peaks and the pits. These are these five areas. We call them the Five Foundational Freedoms.

I started applying it to my life. It started working well where I loved everything that life had to offer and have been doing the work for many years myself. Also, seeing that this worked so well, we brought it and started applying it to different people. We started getting better success as more people were doing the work. Before we jumped on here, you hit the nail on the head. You said, “You got to do the work.” There’s no magic pill. That’s how I got started in this and stumbled to where I am now two decades later feeling even more passionate and fired to do this and to help as many people as I can.

The Five Foundational Freedoms

What are those five areas that you identified?

They’re very simple. I like breaking things down in a way that I can remember them. I call them the Five Fs, but in no particular order, one is Fitness. It’s like health. I noticed that people were moving. They were either going to the gym or yoga. The neat thing about this framework is there’s not one way. It’s not like, “Do CrossFit or this.” The body was made to move and when we tend to move, it releases the feel-good chemicals.

When we feel better, we make better choices and decisions. That is the actual sweat part if you will. The other part is supplemental or nutritional. While I’m feeding my body, when I eat the food we’re supposed to eat, I feel better as opposed to eating crap food or injecting substances, drinking, and different things like that. Fitness is one.

One of the other ones is Faith. It’s something like a higher power or spirituality, but creating space every single day. We call it co-creating with our creator and having this dialogue outside of ourselves knowing that, “The world doesn’t revolve around me. Nobody was put on earth to meet my needs other than myself. I’ve got to do the work and reflection and cultivate this relationship.” Faith is one of the other aspects.

You got to do the work. There's no magic pill. Click To Tweet

One of the other ones is Family and Friends. It’s relationships. Those that are flourishing in life are depositing into the relationships. They’re making daily efforts and cultivating these relationships. We’ve seen relationships go from on the brink of divorce to zero trust. Through these daily messages of gratitude and open and honest conversations, although it’s difficult at times, we started seeing the trust that we built in these relationships flourishing. That’s one of the others.

Another one is Finance. Everything is learned in this life and learning how to make money doing something that you love and enjoy. I remember when I first heard this statistic, I thought, “I used to live a certain way where I didn’t love what I did.” The statistic is and I don’t know the exact number, but there are more heart attacks on Mondays than there are on Fridays. There’s something about people who live Monday through Friday doing something that they hate for two days on the weekend to do what they enjoy.

We found people were either progressing in something that they loved or that they wanted to learn, either a trade or something, but they started to invest in themselves and this turned up for what they do for work. What we found is these four sit on the score. The fifth and final foundation is the foundation of Feelings. People were doing reflective work, whether it was journaling, therapy, or something where they were colliding with themselves, their thoughts, their negative thought process, and challenging it.

Instead of taking our negative thoughts as the truth and going, “I’m thinking this, therefore it must be true,” challenge it. What we found is through this process, we begin to change. We rewire and retrain the brain to think completely differently. It’s no longer attacking ourselves, but now questioning that and looking at different perspectives. Those are what the five foundational freedoms are.

I like what you were saying in terms of that it’s not hours and hours a day, but it’s a little bit of time each day on each of these five areas. Are there any specific tools you recommend for people working with either their feelings, their finances, or their friends and family?

The neat thing about the information age now is everything is so readily available online. There are so many different methods so the only wrong thing to do is not do anything. I know at our center, we have an app that we created so our clients are able to go in and do the work on the app. We have something called Recovery Chat that prompts questions that pull from a lot of different people’s work and gears up more toward mental health and addiction.

One of the biggest things is putting pen to paper. Byron Katie has some great work and she says something along the lines of, “The goal is to take the war that’s up here and to put it on paper.” When we’re able to take our thoughts and put them on paper, it’s one step removed. Just that simple thing of writing it down helps give us one step removed from feeling the weight of those emotions. Also, something about seeing it on paper as well allows us to process it a little bit differently. One way is by simply writing. You don’t even need a fancy journal. You can have a blank piece of paper and you start writing or have a conversation with yourself. The biggest thing is doing the work.

Byron Katie calls her stuff The Work. It’s being willing to do the work. What’s the work? As you talk about the war going on in here, one of the things about Byron Katie’s work is it’s not that she says she suffers from her negative thoughts. She’s very clear and she says she only suffers when she believes her negative thoughts.

We’re all going to have negative thoughts. We’re living in this culture. We’re programmed this way. We’re swimming in this soup of everybody with their stresses, their conflicts, and their comparative lifestyles. We’re going to have negative thoughts, and if we step back and chuckle at them, we don’t suffer from them. However, if we somehow grab a hold of them and say, “This is true, then the suffering starts.”

That’s such a beautiful question. “Is this true?” A lot of the time, we feel it’s true, but as we start investigating those thoughts, it’s like, “Where’s the evidence that says it’s true?” This is the part that they don’t teach us when we’re young and growing up. It’s like, “Now, that I’m learning to question my own thoughts, this is how I’m able to begin to grow and expand my understanding of creating my own pain.”

One of the things that I remember is that bad things happen organically in life. It’s part of life. Learning how to begin to create the good things becomes this new focus. Understanding this and applying these five foundations, you talked about doing a little bit of work each day. We call them the first fruits here or the five to thrive. In the morning, you spend a little bit of time. My son’s into baseball right now. He watches all these games. The neat thing about baseball is if you hit a single, you don’t score, but you get a person on base.

On Your Mind | Mark Manderson | Addiction Recovery

Addiction Recovery: Bad things happen organically in life. It’s just part of life, so learning how to begin to create good things becomes the new focus.

 

Most people swing for the fences and they strike out but you see these teams where if you hit singles and then the second single, there’s still no score, but there’s a person on first and second. Applying that to here, so many people want the home run right away but if you just hit a single every single day, you’re not going to see the score for a few days. However, if you keep doing the work, eventually you get it where that single continues to get the results. You start to see the fruit.

That’s where it gets fun because it begins to compound by investing that little bit of time each day. It continues with better results and more happening throughout all these different areas of life but it takes time. That’s where I think a lot of people do the work and don’t understand the concept of lag time. When you plant a seed, it doesn’t grow right away. You have to continue to water it and nurture it. By doing that work, that’s what’s creating the life.

It’s that whole concept of delayed gratification that if we miss that in our upbringing, it’s a harder lesson to learn as we’re older, but it is still available to us. One of the things I think about in what you’re presenting, can you give me the title of the book again?

It’s called The Recovery Way: How to Heal from Any Addiction and Start Enjoying Life Again. That’s the subtitle, but the main title is The Recovery Way.

I was going to call it Five to Thrive, but that’s one of the things you said right here at the end. The Recovery Way encompasses these five foundational pieces for building a healthier, more productive, and satisfying life. The core, if you had to say, “Here’s one that’s the fundamental,” is that the one you’re talking about as feelings?

Taking Responsibility For Emotions

What we’ve found is everything sits on feelings because if I am not doing the internal work, if I’m not having these conversations about feelings, it’s very hard to find the motivation for fitness and health. It’s the same thing with relationships. If I am not doing the work within and learning how to meet my needs, how to work through the trauma, or whatever it is that I’m carrying from the past, I bring that into every single relationship. Feelings are the foundational part that those other four sit on.

Have you in your work with people, and you talk about this in the book, the origins of whatever I’m feeling? It’s because we live in a culture where we hear constantly, “You made me angry. You hurt my feelings. You’re offending me. You’re scaring me. That’s horrible. That’s wonderful,” Do you address the lie there in your book?

In the book, we don’t go that deep. In our center, absolutely. We have therapists that will go into them. We call them hurts, hate, and secrets. They do that growth work. That would be a little difficult to take on each individual aspect as far as the trauma aspect but you are spot on in looking at, “What is the origin of this? Where is this coming from?”

I’m talking more specifically about the moment when I generate an emotion. If you have these feelings as one of your five Fs as a foundation, if I’m aware that I have this feeling, that’s good. That’s the first big step. A lot of people get cut off at the neck and we never pay attention to all of these physical visceral sensations. Also, we try and think our way through every situation. However, the next step in the work that’s been most useful for me is recognizing and starting to ask myself, “How am I creating this emotion?”

Taking 100% or closer and closer to 100% responsibility for the emotion I create and learning, what’s that mechanism? Much like what Byron Katie says, “The mechanism for my suffering is when I believe in these negative thoughts. The negative thoughts don’t cause my suffering, but I can start to suffer if I believe them.” Is that part of your Recovery Way book recognizing that I’m the one creating my emotion?

Thank you for clarifying it, 100%. We call it exposing the core lie. We’re so quick to blame our own guilt, our own shame. It’s getting below that and figuring it out. I don’t remember who said it, but they said, “I only get hurt every time I argue with reality,” and reality is always right. As we learn to get to expose that core lie, getting to, “Here’s the initial thought, but what is underneath that? What is driving that?”

The book is going to expose the core lie looking at what are the questions that I’m asking myself. The very first thing is to hit pause. Anytime we have that initial trigger, the gut reaction is to hit pause and investigate. As we do that, it’s where we’re able to do the work to expose that core lie or that belief of what’s driving this.

Do you recommend any kind of breathwork to help that pause?

We do. I was very fortunate. Back in 2015, I went to this business conference and there was a gentleman named Wim Hof, who was one of the guest speakers. I’d never heard of him. He took us through this experience that completely blew my mind. I’m an expert breather. I’ve been breathing my whole life but had no idea that you can consciously breathe differently to experience completely different emotions and open up all the different aspects.

I ended up enrolling in his course afterward and went through it. I was blown away at how simple something as breath work that can be done can completely change your state in a matter of seconds depending on the breath technique. I go over what I learned from Wim Hof in the book. Different breathing exercises, and personally still to this day, I do my morning breath work every single morning as part of my five to thrive or first fruits. I also do cold exposure as well.

There’s something that when you’re in cold, the brain goes to fight or flight. When you’re able to work through that, you realize, “It’s not going to kill me.” The brain is so fast at sliding, fleeing, or looking at, “We’re all going to die. It’s all over.” A lot of the time, that happens with the emotions as well. Learning how to breathe through this and say, “This isn’t going to kill me. I just need to breathe through and figure out what’s coming on. That’s how we make it to the other side.”

I would imagine that what you find is that when people start doing that kind of work, it starts to affect the other four Fs, including friends and family. If I’m in a situation where I’m blaming the people around me for what I’m feeling, I’m going to get one kind of result. If I’m in that same situation and I take responsibility for what I’m feeling, I get an entirely different kind of result.

It’s all intertwined. I haven’t met anybody that can compartmentalize and if they’re dealing with an issue over here, it doesn’t bleed over into the other areas. It works both ways. That’s why this holistic approach of seeing the wholeness of everything connected and intertwined, that’s how we’re able to hit those little singles. Just a few steps in each aspect allows me to continue to move all aspects up as opposed to only focusing on one and getting good at that but at the expense of the other 3, 4, or however many left are suffering.

On Your Mind | Mark Manderson | Addiction Recovery

Addiction Recovery: Hit those little singles. Just taking a few steps in each aspect allows you to continue to move all aspects up.

 

As I’m listening to you talk, I’m thinking in terms of The Recovery Way as a book in these five steps, the five Fs, is similar to what Journey’s Dream is promoting with the optimal being program. It’s how can you live an optimal life and not just survive. It reminds me of the story you told. You took a detour when you said, “You reached a point where you didn’t want to be here,” and you didn’t say, “Did you have a suicide attempt?”

However, if we live long enough just treading water, so to speak, without a good sense of purpose and without feeling connected to friends and family, without having any passion for our work, it’s almost like we’re draining the tank constantly until we’re running on fumes. That’s not a fun or energized way to live. I’m imagining, even though I haven’t had access to your book yet, that The Recovery Way is asking people to start to expand and grow in all these other areas so that their lives are more fulfilled and more joyful.

Finding Your Purpose

Absolutely because if you look at human behavior, we will do anything we can to avoid pain and seek pleasure. If our life is what’s creating all this pain, you mentioned purpose. That was one thing that my original story set me up for failure. I didn’t know what my purpose was, and I was terrified, “What if I choose the wrong purpose?”

Fortunately, as I started learning some of this stuff, I started sharing openly. I remember one of these guys at the gym was probably at the time in his late 60s. He had a full six-pack and was in an amazing shape. We started talking and we became gym buddies. He had so much wisdom, and I remember sharing with him, “I’m terrified. What if I choose wrong?” He laughed. In his 60s he said, “I still don’t know what I want to do when I grow up.”

That hit me so weird because he’d had multiple lives. He shared it with me. He was like, “Out of school, I wanted to be a football coach. I got a job as a football coach. We won CIF. It was wonderful. After about ten years, I wanted to become a teacher.” I think it was history. Seeing him do this, he was the first person who taught me that purpose can be seasonal. You don’t have to lock in. If you lock in, “In this season, what is my purpose? What am I feeling called to do? What is something I can do that is going to not only serve me but serve others and for the greater good?”

It was like getting permission that I don’t have to have it figured out. Even if I choose the wrong purpose, if I feel it is what my calling is right now, that’s okay. That is what led me to do a few things that got me to this purpose of coming up on 21 years of doing what I do. I thought, “Had I not gone to the other two seasonal purposes before this, I wouldn’t have found this one. “ That resonates with a lot of people and we’re sharing this. We’re an adult center, but we get a lot of people 18 to 35, and they’ll say, “I don’t know what my purpose is in life.” It’s this beautiful moment of realization of this idea of seasonal purpose.

I think it’s a great thing that you’re giving or at least implying that there’s permission for you, even you, at this stage of the game to create a different purpose somewhere down the road as things shift in your life, your family shifts, and you personally shift. Some of us who’ve had better teachers and mentors and parents look at that as growth. I was talking to somebody who is 68 years old about getting out of a job that she’s in that’s destroying her health and it’s not a good thing.

One of the things she said to me was, “I’ve always had this thing where I don’t want to disappoint people.” A 68-year-old who doesn’t want to quit an abusive job. It’s destroying her health because she doesn’t want to disappoint somebody. If she defines it that way, then she’s applying even more pressure to keep herself stuck there. I said, “If you define it as if you quit, you’re disappointing those people, you’re going to get that kind of attention within you. Yet if you define quitting this job as setting healthy limits for yourself and opening to the next chapter of your life, you get a whole different response.

Regardless of the person’s choice, they’re right because we continue to create our own reality and our beliefs. Something that I continue to relearn is my beliefs are what shaped my reality. In that example from saying, “I’ve got to please everybody,” then that’s going to go ahead and shape my entire future as long as that’s my belief. As soon as I’m able to say, “I want to learn to please myself first,” because ultimately, what I’ve found is that’s what we’re after.

Your beliefs are what shape your reality. Click To Tweet

I ran a group and one of the big things that came up was people looking for love. The statement came up saying, “I look for others to love me because I don’t know how to love myself.” If I don’t know how to fulfill one of my own needs, we continue to look for that and put ourselves in difficult situations trying to go ahead and access that. I hear where you’re coming from with that belief of, “If I’m a people pleaser, I’m going to continue avoiding conflict because I don’t want to ruffle any feathers.”

You’re bumping into one of the biggest and most pervasive truths/falsehoods and that is the idea that beliefs are good. The poet Rainer Maria Rilke was the first one that I heard talk about this. He said, “We have to learn to live in the question,” because in the moment when a mind can ask a good question, that same mind can’t even comprehend the answer to the good question. It has to learn to grow, test things out, and stretch.

If you’re able to stay living in the question without demanding an answer right now, you might live along someday into an answer. You’ll grow into the answer. It’s our beliefs that keep us locked in the past because what is a belief, if not old thoughts that I keep bringing with me and trying to make the present moment fit those old thoughts?

If you can get people to start questioning, one of the things we like to do with people is whenever they have any negative emotion, take that breath, whether it’s a Wim Hof kind of breath, a centering breath, or a long slow exhale and have them turn the focus inside and ask themselves, “How am I creating this emotion?”

Our culture teaches us when we’ve had a negative experience inside of us or a negative emotion, we should scan the environment and figure out who we need to attack or run away from, or bribe or seduce so we don’t have to feel this anymore. However, if the actual mechanism for creating my emotion is inside of me, how much wiser is it to take a calming breath and turn inside and ask without demanding that I know, “How am I creating this emotion, breathing soft, and then watch the shift that takes place?”

I’ve never heard that before of learning to live in a question. That is such a beautiful statement. I’m even reflecting on something that happened just over the last week. I’m like, “That’s right,” because we tend to want to label things so quickly. We want to diagnose ourselves with, “This happened because of this,” as opposed to living in the question. You brought something else up that’s hard to override. I guess you could say the evolution of. You’re saying scan the environment because it’s what got us here from our ancestors so we’re hardwired to, as soon as something happens go, “Do I need to kill something or am I about to be killed?”

It’s different now. Looking at that and doing the self-inflection work, I know for me it seems so anti-common sense of looking in and breathing into the thing that I think is causing me pain but on the other side of that is the piece that we’re looking for. I would say that’s probably one of the biggest struggles that I have found in my journey and see with others is people want to avoid the pain so fast as opposed to reflecting on where this is being created from within.

On Your Mind | Mark Manderson | Addiction Recovery

Addiction Recovery: The biggest struggle is that people want to avoid the pain so fast as opposed to reflecting on where this is being created from within.

 

We’re living in a culture that justifies and even values strong negative emotions and yet, within that same culture, if you were to interview a trial attorney and ask her what state of mind she wants the witness for the opposing side to be in when she cross-examines him or her. You say, “Do you want them to feel nice, calm, and safe?” She’ll tell you, “No,” and you’ll ask, “Why?” She said, “I want them to be in either hostility or fear.” “Why?” She’ll tell you because that’s when they make mistakes.

Now, you might pretend if you want to that it is a rare situation that only happens when you’re in a courtroom on the witness stand being interviewed by the opposing attorney, but I think it’s a more common experience for us human beings, and that if we look at the times we’ve done things that we now regret doing, and then look back at what emotion we were experiencing when we did it, almost always we’re going to find we were either in hostility or fear.

I know from my own observation that’s true for me. If I’m in any form of tension, hostility, or fear, I’m dramatically increasing the probability that what I do next is something I won’t like the results of and I’ll end up regretting somewhere down the road. If that’s the case, and I can observe that, then I start scanning for the earliest warning signs that I’m getting upset. When that happens, I turn the focus inside and ask myself, “How am I creating this upset?” It is been a life-transforming process, and other tools are incorporated into the Optimal Being Program that expands that very thing. Build on that.

That’s beautiful because we tend to live in such a reactionary place and cortisol drops in and learning to react versus responding. A lot of the growth comes from hitting pause and reflecting. That’s the theme that I keep seeing again and again. It’s like, “If I live reactionary, life just gets more and more difficult.” It’s the friction and it becomes exhausting.

When you’re at your wit’s end, it’s like, “Of course, I’m going to look for a way to sedate it.” It makes sense when one is living that way. Learning to move from reaction to response, looking within, and you started this session talking about individuals looking at things a certain way. It cracks me up how predictable our behavior is yet we still fight at the times.

We’re programmed. We’ve been conditioned. We learned our language and we learned whatever our culture says is good, safe, right, and wrong. We’re building on that without even understanding that it was made up by somebody else. If we can open ourselves to start questioning, “Is that working for me,” rather than just, “I believe this.” If I believe this because I’ve observed this in the past, that’s a blind spot too. If I observed it in the past, it might’ve been useful then. It may not be so useful now. To learn to stay in the open observation is so positively beneficial.

Honesty And Open Communication

One of the other aspects too is what we call a life team. It’s having people who are able to give me that feedback because, by definition of a blind spot, you don’t know it’s there. This is part of the family and friends, but having a team of people that I can be completely honest, open, and real with that there’s going to be no judgment or if they do judge, they’re able to work through it because judgment is more reactionary.

However, to be able to hold something up and say, “I’m seeing this. Are you aware of this? Is this working for you? Do you like how you are reacting to this? Do you want to start looking at it?” We can play pitch and catch, but it’s such a beautiful thing to have a team of people behind you, whether it’s professionals or friends that are a little bit further ahead of you in the journey to be able to expose those blind spots and challenge you. Collision is a healthy thing when it’s done in a safe setting.

You brought up the honesty word, which I don’t know if you’ve encountered in your work, but what I’ve discovered and several powerful books have talked about beautifully, is how difficult it is to get more and more honest. How we’re so conditioned in this culture to a little white lie, a little stretching of truth, and a little dodging this or that. The two books that come to mind are Untamed by Glennon Doyle, and We Are The Luckiest by Laura McKowen.

These two books talk so powerfully about what an uphill climate was for these two people, brilliant women, both of them are wonderful writers to get more and more deeply honest because when they first started, they go, “That’d be easy. I can be honest,” and then you start catching yourself. If you don’t have a team of people around that you can confide in and say, “Give me honest feedback, and I’m going to be honest with you.” It is almost an insurmountable task.

Having that family or one of your family and friends, one of your four Fs in The Recovery Way is important. It’s also important from my perspective to have a very direct, open conversation with them about, “I want you to call me on my stuff. If you hear something, if you see something, I want you to give me permission to be honest with you.” If I’m in a conversation with you, we end, I walk away, and I realize that I lied, I stretched the truth there, or I faked something, I’m going to text you or call you right away and say, “No big deal, but I want you to know I didn’t see that, etc.”

One of the things we have here is the first step is to stop lying and then the next step is to be honest or Start telling the truth. A lot of times when people hear this, they think of lies of commission or outward lies. One of the biggest lies that we’re seeing are lies of omission, of people suppressing their feelings or, or people pleasers wanting to avoid conflict. It’s like, “I won’t say anything.”

The first step is to stop lying. The next step is to be honest; start calling the truth. Click To Tweet

Especially nowadays, there’s such thing as healthy conflict. Relationships are built on tearing and repairing. It’s being able to no longer stuff those emotions. What’s so interesting is in my journey, I prided myself. I’m like, “I’ve said a few doozies growing up and I learned my lesson. I don’t have too many lies of commission.” I’m sitting here and I’m like, “This is great. I’m doing so awesome in this area,” and then the lies of omission come up and I’m like, “I’m not sharing any of this stuff.”

Especially for us guys, it’s easy to stop and be like, “I’m not feeling anything as opposed to the first step of awareness going, “I don’t know what I’m feeling, but something’s going on.” As we start sharing that, we stumble our way to find out, “At first I was angry, but it’s hurting. I don’t even know how to bring it up.” It’s having these conversations in regard to relationships and paving the way for having open conversations.

In my life, I have two sets of guys. One is religious based in a men’s bible study and the other is business-based, where we are able to be real, raw, and open with each other. When we’re struggling, we can come together. Sometimes we jump in the pit together and say, “I’m here for you. I’m not going to fix it. I’m here to listen.” Other times it’s jumping in and going, “Let’s put some logical sense behind it,” because as you said when we are in that reactionary state, I don’t think clearly.

When I’m in the middle of the pain, the fight or flight thinking, “It’s all over,” the brain goes to survival as opposed to, “Maybe I misdiagnosed this situation. Maybe I misread that.” It’s another part you share 100% on of being honest and moving past that initial fear of thinking, “I am catastrophizing what potentially could happen if I’m honest.”

To this day, knock on wood, I don’t think worst case. What I thought has ever played out in my life in any scenario. I’ve had some bad things happen, but it’s never been the worst case that I invented in my mind of, “This is going to happen if I speak up.” It’s usually so much less than that. The only time it gets bad is if I continue to lie and eventually, it comes out or whatever happens not on my account but on something else and that’s when it gets out of hand.

There’s that book, The 15 Commitments of Conscious Leadership, which is so clear they talk about the need to be honest and the need to share your feelings and feel them all the way through. Also, commit to doing that with people. It’s solid stuff. I know we’re pushing up against my hard-earned time limit here. I wonder if you could get centered, take a breath, scan your mind, and think if we’ve got a few minutes left, what’s something that I either haven’t asked you about an aspect of the work you do, your book, The Recovery Way, or something that you’d like to go back and highlight that we’ve already discussed?

I think you did a great job. I’ve enjoyed this conversation going back and forth. The only thing I can think of are two things. Number one is if anyone is tuning in to this and struggling, it’s knowing that it’s okay to be in the struggle. I think in this day and age, we try to show this facade so many times that we have it all together. It’s okay to be in the middle of a struggle and to share it openly. It’s a sign of strength.

It's okay to be in the middle of a struggle and to share openly. It's actually a sign of strength. Click To Tweet

A lot of guys I work with say, “It’s weak if I say something,” and once they say something, they go, “The amount of strength I found from this.” It’s counterintuitive, but knowing, “Most people are going through something very similar but if you share, then you’re able to see, “It’s not just me. This is telling me it’s me.” This is what leads to the isolation but by sharing openly, I find out that it’s not just me. I’m not messed up. I’m not broken.

I’m just having a human experience and I’m learning how to vocalize this to work through. That’s the first thing that comes to mind. The second thing is if anybody wants to grab the book, you can go on Amazon. It’s on Amazon or we have a direct link. It’s PacificShoresRecovery.com/book. Those are the two ways that a person can grab the book if they want to learn more about it.

I appreciate your taking the time to share with us, and I look forward to reading the book myself.

Ditto. Thank you so much. It was great being on here with you.

Take care.

Mark Anderson is a renowned expert in the addiction field. With over twenty years of experience. He has dedicated his career to helping individuals overcome addiction and find lasting recovery. Mark’s unique approach combines evidence-based methods with holistic principles providing individuals with a comprehensive path to healing and transformation.

Mark recognizes that addiction can be a relentless cycle trapping some individuals in a never-ending spiral of chaos, while others find the strength to break free and create a life filled with happiness and fulfillment. In his book, The Recovery Way: How to Heal From Any Addiction and Start Enjoying Life Again, he shares a step-by-step blueprint to help individuals overcome addiction and reclaim their lives.

Drawing on over twenty years of experience in the addiction field, Mark has guided thousands of individuals on their journey to recovery. The book The Recovery Way presents a unique approach that combines evidence-based methods with holistic principles, providing readers with the tools, habits, and strategies they need to heal from any addiction. The book, The Recovery Way, is now available for purchase on Amazon.com. For information about the book and author Mark Manderson, please visit PacificShoresRecovery.com.

 

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