5 Ways to Stop Anger from Eating You Up

Sometime ago, I was very angry about a whole range of issues. From work, to my landlord, and about some other things I do not even remember now.
I was particularly mad at work because, I felt the ‘system’ was not helping me to grow and develop my potential to the fullest. I chose to focus on everything that was not going well, instead of looking at all what was going very well. My thinking made me mad, sad and bitter.

One day, I was talking to a friend, then I said, ‘you know, I don’t even understand why I’m so angry. I think I should just try to fit into the system; I cannot do anything about it anyway, unless I leave, and I am not ready to leave. Maybe I can make use of my abilities elsewhere’.

That was it, I was awake! I realized that the system was not fashioned against me after all; (I find myself laughing at that).
Since that day, I realized that I could always choose to feel a certain way about certain situations and conditions in my life, no matter how dire they may seem.
Life is rough, we will surely feel angry sometimes but holding on to anger does not solve anything. It just eats at us, takes away our loveliness, definitely causes us harm and may lead us to adopt certain unhealthy coping strategies like drug use.

Let us explore healthy ways of managing anger instead of resorting to drug use and other unhealthy coping mechanisms.

1. Reframe your Thoughts
This is hard to do, but that is what worked for me. I decided not to let anger control me and destroy my loveliness, take away my beauty, destroy my relationship. I chose to allow myself time to do an honest introspection of the whole situation and the people I was holding responsible for my anger and bitterness. Then I decided not to be like them, I took responsibility for my role in the matter. I just have to do my part and hope others also hold up their end, after all, remaining angry won’t change a damn thing. Being able to let it go changes, everything.
It makes you see better, think better, look better, feel better and eventually be healthier. There are too many things one can possibly die from already, let’s take anger off the list.

2. Talk to Someone
According to the American Psychological Association (APA), the best way to deal with this kind of anger that eats at you and makes you miserable is to see a professional. It is very important to talk to a neutral person who is trained to take care of emotional troubles.
Just like it is necessary to take your physical pain to the Medical Doctor, it is equally important to tend to your emotional pain: see a Psychologist, so you do not make things worse by self medicating with drugs.

3. Relax
Sometimes it is easier not to take things too seriously. Learn to take things easy when you have to, take time off work if you need to. Listen to music, go to a quiet place and think things through. Just do what you love. This is likely to take some of the negative angry feelings away.

4. Write it Down

According to research and through my own experiences, I have realized that writing your emotions down on paper is like throwing up unpleasant things that are stuck in your throat. It is an incredibly relieving exercise. Writing your feelings down helps you understand them better because you are forced to put them in words, to express them, which is very therapeutic.

5. Take the High Road
Sometimes some people just want to piss you off. They do that because they probably have problems with other people they cannot stand up to, so they think they can use you as a punching bag instead. Avoid those people if you can. If you have to deal with them on a daily basis, try not to engage in fights with them, ignore them. They don’t have power over you. If they are being consistently unbearable, report them to the authorities wherever you may be, whether it is at work or school. Do not be like them and get aggressive, be classy, let your ‘lawyer’ handle them.

Have a lovely weekend!

15 Inspirational Songs for Your Recovery Playlist

Music has always been an avenue for relaxation for most people. Some have a favourite genre of music that they listen to. Some do not have any favourites per se, they just enjoy the composition, others prefer lyrics that speak to them; which is my personal preference.

I always encourage my clients to listen to music to help them deal with their cravings and keep a clear head. I also remind them to be mindful of the lyrics in the music, since any music full of drug fuelled language could become a trigger and in effect, cause exactly what we set out to prevent: cravings which could lead to a relapse.

I have come up with a list of songs that I think are inspirational enough to help deal with cravings, relax the mind and inspire hope for recovery.

Here they are!

1. Don’t Worry, Be Happy by Bobby McFerrin

2. What a Wonderful World by Louis Armstrong

3. Happy by Pharrell Williams

4. Can’t Stop the Feeling by Justine Timberlake

5. Try Everything by Sharika

6. Hall of Fame by The Script

7. Never Say Never by Justin Bieber and Jayden Smith

8. Firework by Katie Perry

9. When You Believe by Whitney Houston ft. Mariah Carey

10. You Raise Me Up by Josh Groban (Westlife Cover)

11. One Day at a Time by Cristy Lane

12. Jesus Take the Wheel by Carrie Underwood

13. Adom by Diana Hamilton

14. I can see clearly now by Johnny Nash

15. Amazing Grace by John Newton

Enjoy them and let me know if you found them useful.

12 Daily Affirmations to Enhance Motivation in Recovery

A few years ago, I was part of a training group in which we had to do a lot of role plays. In one of those role plays, the exercise was to practice affirming each other. After the exercise, the instructor asked everyone how it felt to receive those affirmations. Each one of us reported to have felt very good and appreciated; these feelings stayed with most of us for at least the rest of the day.

What if you could do that for yourself everyday. What if you reminded yourself everyday about how amazing you are and about all the things you have been through and come out alive, and about all the more wonderful things you can go on to do with each day and the rest of your life.
The practice of using affirmations daily to boost motivation for success in any endeavour has become very popular in our time.

What are Affirmations?

Affirmations are positive statements that can be said to oneself to acknowledge a goal which has been achieved and also to encourage the achievement of future goals. When these statements are repeated daily and visualized in the mind, can eventually propel the achievement of those goals. If you are a spiritual person, you will call it FAITH.

It does not however mean that, any random affirmation will work to boost your motivation to remain in abstinence. Whatever you are saying to yourself has to be true to you and your situation.

Here are a few examples that could be useful.

1. I am alive and in charge, not my cravings
2. I can be confident all by myself, I don’t need drugs
3. I am sober and loving it
4. I can make it through today without drugs
5. I am strong enough, I can do without drugs
6. I went through yesterday without drugs, I can do it again today
7. Kings and Queens don’t do drugs, they rule. I am going to rule the day!
8. I am a champion, I won the battle!
9. I am too strong to let stigma get me down
10. I am a survivor, I will keep going strong
11. I am these number of days sober, hurray!
12. I will celebrate today with a, ‘Oh my, I am alright’.

Are you already practicing affirmations, let me know about them in the comments.

4 Reasons Why Consistency is Crucial in Recovery

Over the years, I have realized that consistency in my behaviour towards any person or thing, keeps me grounded, trusted, predictable and helps me achieve whatever I may be trying to accomplish. Being consistent defines me, the way I am, my character.
I have also realized that people who do not follow through consistently with what they say, are not able to achieve their goals. Their character is generally described as, unpredictable, untrustworthy, among many other negative adjectives.
Inconsistent behaviour in people makes it difficult for them to achieve success in different areas of their lives; all I am trying to say is that, inconsistent people do not succeed, they do not win, their efforts mostly end up in failure.
Let us look at four more reasons why it is important to be consistent in living the Recovery life (abstinence from all sorts of Psychoactive drugs, practicing coping skills, attending recovery meetings).

1. Allow the Brain to Heal

Psychoactive drugs cause a lot of damage to the brain. There is a protective shielding around the brain called the ‘Blood Brain Barrier’. This barrier is supposed to prevent toxic chemicals from getting through. Only substances composed of fat soluble molecules can get through; that is exactly what psychoactive drugs are made of.
They get through the barrier and cause dysfunction in critical areas of the brain like the cerebral cortex which is responsible for higher level processes like reasoning, memory, language and emotion. This explains why decisions made in active drug use are not very reasonable.
Consistency in living the Recovery life allows time for the brain to heal itself and get all those parts which have been damaged back to optimal functioning.
I always tell my clients that, ‘going on and off drugs and thinking that somehow your brain will heal itself is like scratching a wound over and over again and expecting it to heal. Wounds do not heal that way, just keep applying the prescribed medication and wait’.

2. Build Confidence

In the early days of recovery, dealing with triggers and cravings will seem like a battle, but as the months go by, working with your coping skills and staying out of situations where you may be compelled to use drugs, will only get easier and easier.
This realization will help build confidence in your ability to do what it takes to remain in recovery.

3. Build Trust

One of the problems that Substance Use Disorder causes is conflict and difficulties in relationships; at home, work and in the community. These problems arise from the mostly undesirable and unreasonable behaviour that is exhibited during active drug use, which leads to broken trust in these relationships.
A life in recovery gives you the opportunity to show the people around you that you are a new person. Let your new desirable and reasonable behaviour do the talking, not your words.
The only way to build trust again is to show consistency in this ‘new you’ that you want to show them. Going back and forth between your old and new behaviour will just make their mistrust of you run deeper.

4. It is the Key to Sustained Recovery

The only way to enjoy all the benefits of life in recovery is to continue working out your recovery a day at a time. Do not think that, you have stopped using drugs for a while now so from time to time, you can take a little break to enjoy yourself with ‘some little alcohol or drugs’ and expect that everything will be alright.
As long as you keep putting drugs into your body, they will continue to affect your brain negatively, which will in turn cause problems in your health, finances, relationships and with the law. Remember that psychoactive drugs like Cannabis, Heroin, Cocaine and others are still illegal in Ghana.

Stay consistently abstinent, practice your coping skills, stay safe, protect your brain. You need a healthy brain to live a healthy and sane life.