Episode 45: How to Increase Resilience in Recovery episode45

Episode 45: How to Increase Resilience in Recovery

(Disclaimer: This transcript was created using AI technology. Please excuse any errors).

Music 0:00
Welcome to the Atheists in Recovery Podcast, where we talk about finding hope in recovery.

now your host, Dr. Adina Silvestri,

Adina Silvestri 0:11
Hello Atheists in Recovery land and welcome to Episode 45 of the Atheists in Recovery podcast. And this episode continues with our four part series of recovery under quarantine. And I have a great guest for you today. She's a person in long term recovery, and she also is a therapist. And so we talk a lot about what it's like to be in recovery when you have multiple people in your household. And so real practical examples of how to ask for what you want, and then also being okay with not knowing what it is you want. I know that sounds sounds confusing, but we have this uncertainty going on around us. We're all suffering under this sort of collective loss and grief. And so she talks a lot about priorities and respecting boundaries and mental health resilience. We cover a lot, I'll just say that we cover a lot and so I hope you enjoy the show. And to my guest, Julie Cole is a person a long term recovery, a licensed social worker, certified addictions counselor, licensed addiction counselor and certified health coach. Julie works with individuals and families impacted by substance use and those seeking to improve their overall health and wellness. Alright guys, let's get started. Julie Cole, welcome to the show.

Julie Cole 1:43
Thanks for having me.

Adina Silvestri 1:44
So I want to start this conversation by inquiring about your spiritual background from childhood. Hmm,

Julie Cole 1:51
well see that's a loaded question.

I was not raised with any kind of spiritual beliefs in my life. My parents did the took me long enough to be confirmed. But I was raised my parents had sent me to Christian Schools, which is an interesting juxtaposition. And so I didn't really add a lot of ideas that may have been taught to me externally, but they weren't really reinforced at home, so they didn't get internalized. So I really came into an adult with no set belief system actually, in fact, I have a you know, in probably still have more questions than anything. So I'd like to see him maybe a, a seeker. Yeah,

Adina Silvestri 2:29
yeah, I think I think being curious is this fine? Right, right.

Julie Cole 2:35
Now, I do have fallen into more formal structures as an adult. I think that I have still come at it with a very good dose of cynicism and even mistrust. So it's interesting. Mm hmm. Yeah. I

Adina Silvestri 2:47
love to ask that question. Because I feel like spiritual background, or religious background has has just this formative milieu and who we become. Yeah,

Julie Cole 2:58
I feel like I connect With something, there's something that happens in my my soul to a very personal internal process. It's not anything that is bound to an external belief structure. So I would identify myself and nowadays I would, I mean, I do attend to church and things like that. But where I go right now is a place where a lot of people have been spiritual, spiritually wounded. So we're all kind of like navigating this thing together. So

Adina Silvestri 3:25
thank you.

Julie Cole 3:26
It's just an interesting walk.

Adina Silvestri 3:28
So I wonder if we can now talk a little bit about your recovery journey before we get into the, to the conversation? Yeah,

Julie Cole 3:37
absolutely. Well, I'm currently 44 years old. I found recovery when I was 22. And I made a traditional 12 step recovery story. There's nothing terribly exciting about it. I think one thing that's really important to note is that I've just not a believer that 12 step recovery is the only path I think there's many, many pathways and that I have dedicated a lot of my friends professional life to developing pathways for other people to access. Because in the professional world, we've taken on this 12 step orientation, we've really limited a lot of people from accessing resources that would be functional or helpful for them. I like to believe that I've put a little pieces along the way for that, too, if that makes sense.

Adina Silvestri 4:20
Yeah. So you had a foundation of 12 step recovery, but you've also added other things in as you've gone through the process.

Julie Cole 4:27
Absolutely. I think that that's, I think that a lot of people do do that. So I guess the bigger pieces, that's my personal pathway choice, I don't believe that that should be everybody's.

Adina Silvestri 4:38
Yeah. So I wanted to have you on today. And you're also a therapist, and I thought you would be a really good person to come on and just talk about, first maybe talk about addiction, as it's often called the disease of isolation. And as I'm recording this, we're in the midst of COVID-19 and we're telling people to stay home Which, of course, can increase their depression and anxiety? Maybe they also feel less like going online. So maybe talk a little bit about about isolation as it relates to relapse and some ways that we can prevent it. Yeah.

Julie Cole 5:14
Well, no, that is a common concern. I'm hearing from people in recovery, how do we make sure that we're accessible for folks who are trying to find recovery? And how are we supporting people who may be at risk for returning to use for any number of reasons. And so I think that with everything, there's the problematic side of things. And then there's also the, you know, the opportunities so there's detrimental pieces of it, which is isolation, lack of connection, especially folks who may be older, or really struggling with the technological pieces. And so the interesting thing is that we have some folks who are older who may be like decades into their recovery process who are feeling very isolated and disconnected and How do people connect with those folks meaningfully? Then also, how do we offer resources to the newcomers? And so isolation can be something that can really mess with somebody's head. And so we were talking before we started. And I think there's so much of this that needs to be normalized for people. Because one common trait for people who have a history of substance use is this kind of idea that they are that they are isolated and alone, even when they're socially connected. And so I think that can be amplified in this one of the thing to understand is that if you're feeling really ambivalent, or like you have a lack of motivation right now, that's totally normal. And so I think people are having to really, it's almost like moving through mud to get into picking up a phone or accessing resources online. And so one thing that I've been talking with a lot of people about is how do you build it into a daily schedule so that it's just something you do because motivation is not a feeling People are really tired hearing that more and more and more, and I'm struggling with it myself. I mean, just really just tired, and really struggling with a lot of fatigue. And boredom. Yeah. And that's a big one. An interesting thing about research around substance use is that one of the key markers or risk factors for returned to use is chronic stress. Partially because of the way it activates the nervous system and keeps everybody kind of in fight or flight takes us out of conscious brain and takes us out of this frontal lobe that kind of thinks through things and puts us in this very reactive state. And everybody's kind of in that right now. Which is why we're tired. And so people may actually be even though they feel sluggish and more tired to might actually be more reactive than they think they are. So that that piece of our brain that goes straight from like this decision to that one without The stop gap in the middle may actually be more likely. So not just with substance use, but with food. You know, there's a meme that's going around and everybody's kind of laughing that it's like talking about unemployment servers, and it showed this one little tiny server in this little tiny room. And then it showed you said, Pornhub servers, and it was like a huge room full of servers, you know? Like, there's a lot of truth to that people will fall into this, the escape behaviors more likely, in times like this, and how do we sit with that understanding that we're going to probably fall into some escape behaviors and find stopgaps or accountability to not do it if we need to. I don't know if that makes sense. So I think that that's another piece destructiveness is another one, a lot of people feel really distracted and unable to focus. And so even for people who are accessing accessing online resources I'm hearing I'm being distracted by watching people on zoom. You know, being distracted by you know, trying to do other things like cook dinner, or do those kinds of things while I'm listening to a meeting are, you know, I'm listening to this TED Talk, or I'm listening to this audio book. And so I think we'd like to think that we're more focused, but we're actually more distracted. So owning all of these things as a truth is for everybody right now is really important to allowing ourselves some grace and a call to accountability for ourselves. A lot of people are really frustrated. I don't know about for you in therapy, but this week, I've heard a lot of frustration. A lot of people who had some really good skills on deck who were really working through expanding their mental flexibility, developing some emotional resilience and really kind of finding a breadth of thought processes around their life or starting to fall back into this either or shoulds. I've heard this.

Adina Silvestri 9:51
I've heard this too. Yeah. The shoulds and the oughts are coming back.

Julie Cole 9:56
Absolutely. I shouldn't be eating like this. I shouldn't be thinking like this. I'm I'm so lazy, I feel like everybody else has got a side hustle. I mean, I'm hearing all these things and I'm doing, there's some element of letting go of what other people are doing or what it looks like and understanding that most of us that are best fit for our own social media.

You know, what we're seeing is not reality. And I have a lot. I have a number of people that I know personally, who they look like life is so good on the outside, but it's a complete mess when you actually get into the trenches with them.

Adina Silvestri 10:27
Yeah, I was just gonna say it's almost best to limit your social media right now, if the goal is to build up the resiliency during a time of this.

Julie Cole 10:36
Yeah. Oh, absolutely. I mean, I think that in news media, yes. You know, we're limiting consumption of that kind of stuff. I think a lot of people really struggling with anxiety and worry for 100 different reasons. And then we could go into all the different ways. I mean, I have people who they're worried their kids are gonna backslide. They're not accessing the resources they need in school, but that's close and so they're naturally Trying to homeschool a child with, you know, a specific special or learning need that they can't meet. people worry about their financial status and if they're going to lose their jobs or if they have lost their jobs, or if they're going to lose their small businesses, and people are worried about the economy, some people think it's Armageddon in the world's coming to an end.

Conspiracy theories are going crazy right now. So there's all of this stuff. So I would also say the one thing that I'm seeing that's interesting for me is that a lot of people are getting to the end of their escape behaviors.

Adina Silvestri 11:34
Tell me more about that

Julie Cole 11:35
people have engaged in like so I usually put it in the context of food because that's a tangible one. A lot of people can really without a whole lot of shame, own.

Adina Silvestri 11:45
I can I can be under this category. Keep going. Yeah.

Julie Cole 11:49
My husband, he's telling me the Nutter butters are Mommy's, you know. So this piece where we're falling back in old patterns of behavior, like maybe it's just a like a feeling comfort foods that we eat when we're stressed or we're sick. And now we're eating it all the time instead of some of the time. And what I'm seeing now is that because this thing has no like, we're really in this waiting space where people aren't sure when it's going to end when things are going to open back up what it's going to look like in the end. And we're kind of forced to reckon with the now. Like, people are getting sick of it. They're getting sick of the food they're eating, right, they're getting sick of watching Netflix, they're getting sick of doing these things, right. Even I had a friend said that they're even just to the end of like, Tinder hookups. Like

Adina Silvestri 12:39
oh, no!

Julie Cole 12:42
like, it's like, they're people are reckoning with the fact that these things aren't like, it's all empty. Like they're, you know, he said people are actually at home, they can't run back out to the next thing and really kind of get distracted from the fact that they feel like crap when they eat this food or this show really isn't doing something For them, or the mindless sex really just as empty in what they're seeking is real connection and moving further away from it. Yeah,

Adina Silvestri 13:08
there's just the sense of uncertainty, which is, which is big. And I don't think that, obviously I don't get political on the podcast, but it bears mentioning that there is a level of just uncertainty, uncertainty with with the next steps with the administration and what we can expect. And you haven't really felt you haven't really seen that in other countries where things are very much laid out. And this is what you can expect, and this is how long we're going to be in isolation. And you know, everything's really sort of laid out as much as possible. And so that I think, adds to the stress and the anxiety.

Julie Cole 13:43
For me as small business owners, one of the things we did when this all started and we kind of, you know, shut everything down and with the telehealth, I mean, we own so we not only do therapy, but we also do health coaching and we have a gym, so we shut down our gym portion. And then now they told us like we can do one on One personal training if we want. And, like for me, I can't. I'm home with my kids 24. I have two grandparents that are sets of grandparents that help keep the kids a lot of the time. And they are both like both of the grandmothers have COPD. So we can't expose the kids to them right now. And we don't I'm home 24 seven with my kids. And so it's an interesting thing of like, how do I get out and hustle when I'm having to do this? And so I think one thing that's helpful is that people have to get crystal clear about what their priorities are in this moment, right? And when I say that I'm not talking about even big level values I'm talking about the first thing I have to think about every day is how do I prioritize my recovery and my mental health? So for me what I do, there's three things I do every single day to feel human. And that's what I'm asking people now. What are you doing every day to feel human? I take a shower. That's big for me. Even if I don't wash my hair, like it's like, there's some And that makes me feel human about shaving my legs. I love it. I mean, seriously, I'm like it's an erotic thing for me, but that's okay. Well, we'll get into that for me. Now we have I have a six year old and a nine year old. And so now I have a kindergartener and a third grader who moved to doing home like crisis schooling. Okay, so now taking on this role, so that has to be another priority, in fact, behind my mental health, and in probably some days actually ahead of my mental health, if I'm being honest, I don't intend it to be that way. But like, you're there and they need me. Yeah. Really intentional about not putting kids in the number one spot and letting everything else with me fall behind that. Yes. But homeschooling, caring for my kids, prioritizing my mental health, my recovery, taking care of my kids keeping my house together, or in it 24 seven, it's got to have some semblance of structure for me. And I'm not talking about the schedule. I'm real flexible with the schedule because I'm like, Who cares? If they're We're up and we're going to be home for at least another five weeks. So we got some, it's like summertime, but with homeschooling, and then of course my therapy practice, like trying to keep my my folks to stay connected with my folks, those are my priorities. If I get all of those in, that's a great day. When and actually about therapy, I've tried to put everybody to as like a very limited amount of time, okay. Because what I was finding was, I was trying to just schedule at all hours of the day and night and then I was just having to drop things and try to come up here and get in the office and get the kids settled. And it was very good. So now they know these are the times that mom's doing this. I can also schedule my husband to be home some during those times, and he can block out time in his schedule in it because it's become more manageable, if that makes sense.

Adina Silvestri 16:49

It does. I really like the piece about what are you going to do today to make you human I think that's a that should be something that we write out and put in front of us like on our computer, and look at it every day.

Julie Cole 17:03
yeah. I mean, I think that a lot of people I mean, I've heard from other people ask my clients that every time at the beginning of every session, what are you doing every day to feel human. And for some people, it's their sleep hygiene. I think that's a big one for people right now. Like, it'd be really easy to allow yourself to stay up watching Netflix until two or three in the morning and then sleep in and relate. I think a lot of people are being intentional, and that's one of mine, I get up at 730 every morning, no matter what, you know, because if not, I could creep in and the girls and I could sleep in until 11 or 12. If I let a lot of people want to move their bodies, so you know, walk work out from home. I think that is probably one place where people really have to be cautious on social media, because I'm gonna ruffle some feathers but the mid level marketing stuff is blowing up right now. But everybody's an online coach right now. And so, recording all these videos and putting all this stuff about if you're not hustling then you're not doing anything and there's no No excuses. And you really love yourself. You'll do all this stuff. And that could really amplify like for me. I own a gym. Yeah. And I'm not working out every day.

Adina Silvestri 18:09
Yeah. Yeah.

Julie Cole 18:10
I mean, I'm not even getting out and walking every day, some days. I mean, I'm just trying to allow myself to space that to honor my energy. And if I'm tired, I don't force myself. Because those things make me more tired. And actually push me away from my priority for the day, which is my recovery, my mental health, my kids here in my house together, and mental health, right? Yeah,

Adina Silvestri 18:33
yeah. You have to give yourself some grace, for sure. That's right.

Julie Cole 18:35
So a lot of people are really starting to tune in and focus on their nutrition. Some of it's not necessarily focusing on perfect nutrition. It's really more about like, Okay, what do I do tonight? Eat whole ice cream today. How do I not eat Nutter butters every day or two times a day, right? How do I make some swaps like for me, I eat something with green in it for every meal. Like I just have to do that it helps my mental acuity and my emotional state. It also reduces how much shit I'm eating. So, in then I do see some friends who are defining their thing. So I have some friends who've taken on and really leaned into their at home business or their mid level marketing thing, and it's working really well for them. And that's okay. You know, they're really developing their side hustle during this time, and it's working really well for them. And that's okay, too. I've seen some folks who've taken on some competency building, my husband and I actually both took time to finish a nutrition certification that we've been wanting to finish and it was actually really enjoyable. I really liked it a lot. And it offered me some perspective on where I am.

Adina Silvestri 19:50
If you Yeah, as if you needed more more pressure.

Julie Cole 19:55
And then I think that there's a really good you know, principle in positive psychology, which is is three free, you know, what can we do every day? That's the three things that do everything that's, you know, every day. That's great. And so that's there's a lot for that. And so for some people in our house, it's music. Mm hmm. Like, well, our music isn't free because we have it on Spotify. But you know what I mean? Like music can be free. So what can you do? Like with the girls, we have this thing where we just turn the music up all the way and dance all over the house for a little while. So that helps people.

Adina Silvestri 20:25
Yeah, it's really hard to dance and cry at the same time. Exactly.

Julie Cole 20:29
Well, I mean, depends on the music and the mood. But yeah, that's

Adina Silvestri 20:32
true. I mean, I guess, I guess maybe if you need to cry, then please do cry. But

Julie Cole 20:39
well, I think it's like there's, there's time to honor the grief. And there's time to time to celebrate and lean into joy. And I can't do both. I think that for me at different times in my life. I've leaned completely into the grief for the melancholy and really let that envelop me and then I've taken times to really just like, Chase joy to the point where I do Honor the other side of it. And so, for my life today, I really try to see my my emotional state as a spectrum. And I can experience the whole spectrum in a day. And actually that's really kind of wholehearted living. If I do it, it's okay

Adina Silvestri 21:14
and wholehearted living. Can you tell the audience what that is?

Julie Cole 21:17
Sure. So it's like this concept from Brene' Brown. I don't want to take something that's not mine. And she really introduced wholehearted living in her the gift of imperfection. Look, and she talked about research she did and, and what they found is that over time, she was seeing people who had these really a lot of emotional resilience to their life. And so she started really digging into that start realizing those folks really had capacity to identify a lot of different emotional states in their life. You know, that on average, a lot of people can only identify like six or eight emotional states, but a person who's wholehearted can identify up to like 35 or 36, which

Adina Silvestri 21:58
is Yeah, that's it. Right, interesting.

Julie Cole 22:00
it feels

like in a really evolved person. Now if we're really experiencing four or five emotional states, that's okay. But I think the important part about it is just being mindful of the fact that, like, we have this idea. And if you're going off the social media world, that everything has to be joyful and beautiful all the time. And that's not the reality of life. The reality of life is so much of it is mundane, the day to day. It's the journey. And so how do we lean into just experiencing life as it is in the moment versus escaping about escaping into the concept of a possible future event or rumination over the past? Which people in addiction live in those two state? So lots of regret, and lots of hope? Yeah.

Adina Silvestri 22:55
I wonder if we could talk a little bit about so how do we Expect respect to those boundaries when, you know, there are sometimes two, three generations living in one household and you're not working from home, you're working with home and you're working with children. Okay.

Julie Cole 23:14
Well, you know, it's interesting, I will say this one thing I've observing this week to probably more than any other time so far as everybody thinks their home situation is specifically unique. So if you're working from home, like so, there's a situation where somebody texts and they're like, I still have to actually go into work every day or, you know, wish I could be home and I'm like, but there's people at home wishing they could be at work. You know, there's people working from home who have kids, you know, there's people who are furloughed who are stressed about their finances and can't focus on the kids and so everybody, you know, there's this, we're talking about the externalization that can happen everybody's looking at everybody else and thinking about it better. And the truth is so much but boundaries are is being clear on who and what I am. At any given moment, not trying to control the external world. And a lot of the times and one of the things I do with a lot of families is we have to get really clear on who we are in the moment because boundaries are about me communicating what's okay and not okay or what I need, not trying to manipulate or control another person to do what I want them to do. Yeah, it's a really clear distinction that really fine one because a lot of what we hear, especially for families that are dealing with addiction, so loved ones who have a person who's in addiction, like a lot of the stuff they're taught about boundaries is to try to control an outcome for their loved one. Instead of just be clear about who and what they are. Right? And so that creates this environment where you know, if our loved ones Okay, then we're okay but if they're not, okay, we're not okay. And then it becomes a cycle. We're all up and down versus like, this is where I am. This is my values. This is my beliefs. This is my what is okay and okay for me, and you know, you have the freedom to be you. But you can't bring this certain piece into my world if it's going to disrupt this piece. And so I think, a huge piece of boundaries of being clear the fact that we're all autonomous beings, and I only have control over myself. And that includes really working to respect the boundaries of someone else. And I'm using personal examples. I'm just in a bit right now. But for me, that means with my kids, you know, I recognize yesterday that one of my children was on a zoom call with two of her little friends and I'm like walking over every five minutes. So like, check in and read what they're writing to each other on the chat function. And I'm like, later I told my husband, I was like, something's off because I don't feel like I like there felt like there's a mistrust of her in that moment. And I'm like, I'm doing like there's something off. I'm trying to control her and not trust her to make this decisions for herself and to navigate that and trying to control that scenario. So in that scenario, I wasn't, you know, there wasn't a clear boundary for me. It was real permeate is permeated, and she felt it. She was like, Mom, what are you doing? Mom? Why are you reading over my shoulder? Mom, what is going on? I'm like, I'm sorry. And so there's, you know, and it's a perfect example of how we try to overcompensate when we realize it and try to make them feel better. give ourselves away by trying to take take control. Yeah. And so that's the piece is that in that moment, I feel like there's some measure of control, like what am I worried about? I'm worried that she's going to be inappropriate with her friends. I'm worried that her friends are going to be inappropriate with her. They're this nice, fun age where they're learning things they shouldn't learn with each other and third graders after I remember being in third grade. What is the real issue here? And so the bigger thing is not putting all that on her and make her responsibility more sponsible for my role as a parent, yeah. And so we taking that out to an example of substance use and addiction. A lot of times with family members do say they feel uncomfortable, or they worry about their loved one, and they just want them to act right so that they don't have to worry, or be embarrassed or be ashamed or be whatever it may be, you know, it's still an externalization. And they're not clear on who and what they are. So the focus becomes their loved one. And their loved one is the sole provider of peace and security, more living in homes with other people like the idea that the other person can bring me peace or security, they can offer an environment where I can feel peace and security, but they can't give me peace and security.

Adina Silvestri 27:46
I love that. They can't give me peace and security.

Julie Cole 27:51
People can certainly take it away, but it still has to be something that's given, you know, and there's a lot of nuances to that. So to be really careful. Because this is still has to be given. But there's a lot of complexities to that in terms of behavioral science and things like that. But in this moment, when I get tired or overwhelmed, it's really hard for me not to look at my husband and go make me feel better. Make me feel better. Yeah, say the right thing, do the right thing, be the right person. And the problem is, when I do that, it doesn't matter what he does, I always want more. And so earlier, we were talking about this externalization in the moment, externalizing to the other person makes us feel power makes us feel control. It's a small piece. It's like having a five year old and counting down from 54321 and having them do what you want them to do. Right? What happens over time is that it takes more of that to achieve that result. It's like its own substance like substance use, it's like its own, you know, its own thing that we become intoxicated by, because we need more of it because it's it's fake. It's false. It's unreal as superficial. And so the hard part about expecting somebody to give us something that they can't give us or expecting that we can give something that we can't give to somebody we can't give to them. Because that happens to us. We want to try to give it away and make other people better is that in the end, it leaves us all completely out of control. And I'm sure there's a lot of people sitting in the truth of that right now. It's really, really hard. Really hard. Yeah.

Adina Silvestri 29:30
So how do you navigate that? So certainly, you want to bring the focus back to your inner self? Oh, yeah.

Julie Cole 29:38
Yeah. So there's a couple of things. strategies. A lot of times people identify the emotional state first before the thought. And so sometimes it's like taking a minute to just be still and dial in and say, What is it I'm feeling right now? Is it anxiety? Is it fear is it depression and then take A minute, you know, just to observe that a strategy that I use with some of my clients is seeing our thoughts and feelings is like just sitting still and just imagining them being cabs in Times Square, like flying by, you know, if we ride one of them it's like taking the choice to jump in that cab, ride it and ride it down to wherever it takes us. Usually it's kind of crazy town, right? And so and I say that tongue in cheek but there's an exercise you can do where you sit back and you step back and you go, Okay, this is anxiety, I don't have to write it down, was the thought is a thought setting how identify the thought that comes with that. And so some of it's just identification for most people. It's even just taking the time to even be able to to stop and identify it. Because most of us just react. We just go in so earlier we're talking about we're all in fight or flight right now which we are on some level, right? There's some low level anxiety, you know, stress feeling You're going on for everybody right now. And if we're in that, then that piece of our brain that says, Okay, this is a cab, I can either jump in or not jump in, right, that part gets disrupted, and we just go go in it. So sometimes just sitting still and taking the time to observe it, or to take the time to go lock yourself in the bathroom, you go, why am I feeling like this? What is this gives us a chance to disrupt the behavior, because the hard part about it is once I act out on it, it becomes the thing, right? It's like, if I use like, the first thing if I drink one beer, or if I, you know, go by, you know, if I use cocaine or whatever the thing is for eBay, like, once it, the behavior starts, it's so much harder to come back and undo it. You know, so for me what I've had to do and what are we working with some of my clients on is like, okay, let's just stop and identify it. You have to identify it first. Awareness is key. It's not the answer,

Adina Silvestri 31:57
but it's a start.

Julie Cole 31:58
It's a start Yes. And so, you know, if we were in a non COVID world, I would have somebody observe themselves as they went throughout the week, and say, What are my dominant thoughts about this situation? Let me name that this is fear, this is anxiety, this is this and work on just naming it and labeling it and not you know, and then trying to let go of the emotion attached to it. And so we can still do that. It's just harder to do it in this because we're tired. We're distracted, or ambivalent, and we're bored. And so having a little patience with ourselves. So that's one strategy that I've been working on with people and keeping it simple, not keeping it calm, like people can't do complicated, you know, internal work right now.

Adina Silvestri 32:44
Can you talk a little bit more about the practical piece of that, you know, this has come up in my practice, how do you sit with the emotion that you're having, and then explain it to the others that you're with 24 seven and then ask sort of asked For some compassion almost right.

Julie Cole 33:02
So I was telling you beforehand, you know, what I recognized the other day is that sometimes I can't even identify the need associated with it. I just can't even and I'm skilled at doing this, you know, my husband and I do we do this type of therapy called a Mago or a dialogue and we dig into it. And there's a lot of identification and empathy, and summarization and validating you know, I can't even get into that right now. Because I'm, I have no idea. So I think it's okay for us to just say, like, I told him the other day, it's hard for me to ask for what I need, because I don't know that I'm struggling to identify that.

Adina Silvestri 33:40

Julie Cole 33:41
you know, and so that was helpful for me because I was doing this thing where I was like, make me better make me feel better. You're not doing this to you know, like, and I caught myself being like, don't, don't do that like that. And don't talk like that. Don't breathe,

Adina Silvestri 33:56
don't breathe. Please stop


Julie Cole 34:00
With my kids, it's like stop smacking your food. Like that's the thing that's driving me nuts right now I can hear them, no matter where I am in the house, I'm like, and so like really kind of taking control of my own stuff and saying, Would you please mind chewing with your mouth closed? And understanding that maybe we need to put on some ambient music while we're having dinner. So I can't hear as much of it. And I say all that to say that the the practical piece is sometimes we're not clear on that, you know, but for me, I start seeing myself grab at other people to try to make my new emotional state better. And that's my sign, you know, and so why am I getting agitated with my kids about eating dinner? Because I'm tired, and I want to break. And so for me, the practical piece is sometimes it's just asking my loved ones to say like, I don't, I don't know what I need. Just understand. I keep telling my husband. Imagine that you were home 24 hours a day for weeks on end with the kids without being able to like without leaving the house, he is like I would lose my mind. Yeah, that's it. And so he kind of puts him back into it. And then he starts going, you know, like, oh, wow, like I would, you know, thank you for everything you're doing. And there comes this part where he kind of recognizes, you know, and leans into that. And I'm doing that on the other token, because he's going to work and he's taken on the stress of the financial aspect of our home. Yeah, because we own our business together. And we've had a reduction in our business. He's taking on the stress of, you know, he's still meeting with some people in person because we need to be able to do what we got to do to keep the business going. And he works a lot with teenagers and like, he's had a lot of new kids come in into the practice, like into, you know, initiate with him and meeting him. He's like, I'm not going to do a telehealth session to start with a teenager. So we just do everything we can to just scan we asked anybody if they've been exposed or if they're symptomatic the police not come, you know, and we just we weigh that risk, but I have to remember that he's also got the stress. So I'm thinking of my situation and only my situation. And I'm not thinking about I'm thinking, Oh, he gets to leave the house, or he gets to go do this or he gets to do that. And the truth is, is that he also He's like, you get to stay home and not worry about if you're being exposed and exposed to your family. Yeah. You worry about taking care of the kids in the house, and I worry about the finances. And so I think that the practical piece of it is also not only it really starts with us understanding that everybody situation, like everybody has weight in this. Yes. So the person who has to leave to go to work, they have witness, the person who's home with kids all the time. They have weight in this the person whose home with no social connection,

Adina Silvestri 36:49
no social connection wishing that they had a somebody

right now.

Julie Cole 36:54
Absolutely. There are a lot of people who have medical conditions that are on hold at the moment. They're definitely afraid to go to the doctor or to go to a hospital to get surgery or to go or they're not even doing those things right now. So I think that part of it is is what I'm seeing a lot of people do now is get really frustrated with the external world. Maybe it comes out as frustration it comes out as anger comes at it out as it's not fair. Like This isn't fair. And the truth is, is that if a non COVID world or code world if I externalize the world's gonna seem really unfair and unbalanced. So what why do I do the practical pieces that can't ask for what I need if I'm not taking time to just even just take to connect with myself? So that's why for me I do the three things to feel human every day I take a shower, because there's just something that feels better about the I don't necessarily get out of pajamas, or earrings and a little bit of makeup and address for you. But the most days um, I you know, I will dry my hair but you No makeup, no dramas or workout clothes, which I live in 24 seven in a non COVID world anyway, in that kind of stuff that I take shower every day or something that for me feels human, there's something that feels less sluggish, more alive more emotionally and mentally connected when I feel clean. The other pieces you know, getting up at the same time every day offers me consistency. It almost guarantees and I'm I have some part some schedule to my life each day. It also keeps me mindful of getting to bed by a certain time. And the other piece for me is the intentional and time I get up at 730. And I spend an hour by myself before I get anybody else's house. It's usually up and out of the house by that time anyway, before I get the kids up. And that's my time. Yeah, for my mental health.

Adina Silvestri 38:49

Julie Cole 38:49
And so

I connect with myself in the morning. And I'm like, I'm honest with myself. I mean, when I'm sitting in this, this sit in this chair right here, sitting there and I'm being quiet. And this feeling of crushing anxiety is hitting me. I'm like, why am I waking up with anxiety? And there's this curious state for me. And I think that's the last piece is, it's easy to get critical. It takes courage to be curious. Yeah. with ourselves and with other people. And so I'm curious, why am I feeling anxious, just woke up. There's literally nothing going on in this house right now. Nobody's up. nobody's doing anything. But I'm feeling this crushing weight of anxiety. So what's going on with me in this moment, if I didn't take that hour, I'd start out with that anxiety and I would just, it will go straight to the kids and straight to the husband and straight to the whatever. And so for me, it's about being connected. And maybe it said, I go, Okay, I can't identify why I'm feeling anxious right now. So maybe I just need to have a little grace with everybody. And so we take it a little bit more easy getting up. We'll take a little bit more easy with the schoolwork we focus maybe just today on getting done. has to be turned in. We have this nice little packet with all this stuff. But the teachers have finally fine tuned like we're going to turn in these assignments for grades and the rest of it. We need to get done just so they keep their skills up. Got it? That day, they will just do what's in what's what has to be turned in? Yeah, we do bare minimum. And then we go outside we play all day now. So it helps me stay connected with what I could manage that day. And then that goes out to the people around me.

Adina Silvestri 40:30
Yes, put the mask on you first and then you can put the mask on everyone else.

Julie Cole 40:34
That's right,

especially since minor little.

Adina Silvestri 40:37
Right. So I'm wondering if you have like maybe any last words for the community, anything that you know, that's come to mind that you want to share before we wrap up today?

Julie Cole 40:49
Absolutely. I think that there's a lot of people who think this is bullshit but it's not like once you practice it, you recognize that it's not like it is so being gentle with yourself. You know, being aware, is a gift and a curse. So having awareness and sitting with our emotional state and identifying it can be really empowering for us to do something positive with it, that could also be the invitation to abuse ourselves and other people. And so that practice of self compassion or being gentle with ourselves and saying, you know, like, trying to identify those really rigid thoughts like should could always never, and then soften those a little bit. I think that's really important right now, I think that's probably a key skill and it will keep us from externalizing to other people and getting frustrated. It just it really kind of brings our emotional state back into the hula hoop we're standing in and into a perspective and a view that's manageable.

Adina Silvestri 41:49
Yeah, I'm hoping that there's more research that comes out of this, this mindfulness meditation, these interventions and how it can help addiction because I really do see this new wave forming? And there's just always this lag between research and practice that drives you crazy.

Julie Cole 42:08
Yeah. How do you how do you quantify it and addiction recovery? That's one of the biggest challenges for the research community. Mm hmm.

Adina Silvestri 42:16
Well, Julie, thanks so much for being on and I want to ask how can people best find you and all the awesome work that you're doing in the community?

Julie Cole 42:24
We have a website, it's called, it's just,, and then we're on all the social media platforms, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, and then we have a YouTube channel and we're on Spotify for an iTunes for our colewellness podcast and all of those are at the handle @cole wellness. If you see a tree with, you know, roots on it, it's black and white. That's our, that's our symbol. And you know, that's us. Okay,

Adina Silvestri 42:54
great. I'll put all that into the show notes for our for our session. All right, well, thanks again. So much for Being on.

Julie Cole 43:00
Well thank you for your time. I appreciate everything gave me some perspective this morning that I actually really needed.

Unknown Speaker 43:07
Thanks, Julie.

Music 43:08
Thank you for listening to the Atheists in Recovery podcast. For more great info and to stay up to date, head over to

Welcome to today’s show!



  • The path that led to Julie identifying as a “seeker” amidst a structured group of “spiritually wounded” individuals
  • Jullie had a foundation of 12-step recovery but also guided her recovery in holistic ways
  • Why it feels so hard  “like moving through mud” to access resources online
  • Why Julie feels one has to get clear about their recovery goals
  • The one question she asks to help identify one’s recovery goals
  • When living in homes with other people, those individuals cannot give us peace and security
  • What do Cabs in Times Square have to do with our thoughts and feelings
  • What can we do to connect with ourselves and tools on how to identify our feelings
  • It’s okay to not know how we’re feeling right now and to give ourselves some grace
  • What’s Julie’s message to the A.I.R community





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