Addiction drives people to make regrettable decisions that affect themselves and those around them. Such choices can result in damaged relationships, the loss of a job, and even legal trouble. Landing in these positions often leads people who suffer from a substance use disorder (SUD) to place a lot of blame, shame, and judgment on themselves. However, focusing on these emotions will only inhibit your recovery, as they prevent you from forgiving yourself and rebuilding your confidence.
Many of you probably know the story of actor Robert Downey Jr. As a rising star in the 1980s, he won over the hearts of cinema-goers nationwide after playing a rich kid who upended his life after suffering a severe addiction to cocaine in the movie adaptation of Less Than Zero. Unfortunately, his life began mirroring his role as he found himself in an endless cycle of drug and alcohol abuse.
After being sentenced to prison and almost destroying his career, Downey’s wife gave him an ultimatum to get clean in 2003, and he began seeking treatment. With treatment, Downey also began therapy, meditating and practicing yoga almost daily, allowing him to fully recover from his SUD and career when he landed the role of Iron Man in 2008.
Downey’s story is one of the thousands in our country that demonstrate that we all make mistakes in our life, but that does not mean we should be bogged down by who we were in our past. Instead, we should focus on the now, the future, and who we want to be.
Learning to let go of shame and judgment is a process that requires rewiring your brain and dedication to mindfulness and positive thinking. Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) is one of many tools we use here at Vanity Wellness Center that help people suffering from SUD learn to forgive themselves and reach the next chapter in their lives filled with happiness and health.
What Is Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy?
MBCT was developed by therapists Zindel Segal, Mark Williams, and John Teasdale to build upon the effectiveness of cognitive therapy by integrating mindfulness meditation. Like cognitive therapy, MBCT rests on the belief that mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, and even SUD result from unhelpful ways of thinking and behavioral patterns. Cognitive therapy seeks to reteach people how to deal with distressing thoughts by accepting their thoughts for what they are and not trying to challenge or change those thoughts.
Benefits of Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy
Challenging, distressing thoughts can often result in negative thought patterns that only serve to hurt you rather than heal you. For example, if you are recovering but facing cravings, you may judge yourself. You might start having thoughts like:
- “Why can’t I get over this? I am stupid for getting addicted in the first place.”
- “I am a worthless addict.”
- “Recovery is too hard. I’m never going to get past this.”
While these thoughts are normal while recovering, they are not helpful. This type of thinking can keep you trapped in your addiction and prevent you from building your confidence and practicing self-love. Building confidence and practicing self-love can be integral parts of recovery. MBCT can teach you to recognize your thoughts and feelings without beating yourself up.
With practice, your thoughts surrounding cravings can turn into: “I am having a craving right now, which is entirely normal. I should ask my treatment professional for help.” By not berating yourself, you can lessen your emotional distress, better identify what you need, and use healthier coping mechanisms to overcome your cravings.
By strengthening your mindfulness through the practice of MBCT, you may be able to manage distressing thoughts, redevelop your confidence and sense of self, and be better able to love yourself.
Practices Used in Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy
Some MBCT practices that we teach people recovering from SUD include:
- Meditation: Meditation is one of the many mindfulness practices that we use. Meditation can be done by yourself or guided. Practicing mindfulness meditation will help you slow down racing thoughts and help you replace negativity with positivity.
- Yoga: Yoga is also another excellent mindfulness practice. It will help engage your body, and holding certain poses have been shown to reduce stress and increase blood flow.
- Body Scan: Body scans can be done anywhere. You usually start at your toes and then work through your body to determine where certain places may be sore or holding tension. By focusing on different body parts, you will learn to determine what you need to feel good.
Here at Vanity Wellness Center, we focus on healing the person as a whole. We understand that treating SUD should never be a one-size-fits-all approach. Every person in recovery will face unique challenges, but one common denominator we have found is the inability to overcome negative self-judgment and shame. People suffering from a substance abuse disorder are often unable to forgive themselves, but we are here to tell you that it is okay. Regardless of what you have done in your past, you are still worthy and deserving of love, happiness, and health. Here at Vanity Wellness, we develop individualized treatment plans that focus on helping you beat your addiction and will help you build your confidence so you can learn to love yourself again. If you are wondering if MBCT will be a useful tool for you during your recovery, give us a call at (866) 587-1737.