As a helping professional, I’ve worked with many people who often come to the conclusion that they “just cannot do it”. Whatever their “it” may be, whether “it” is overcoming self-doubt, setting healthy boundaries with people or substances, overcoming fear, moving forward from traumatic events in their past, etc. While working with these individuals, I have seen many trends. The most common trend seems to be the fear of the unknown. One can be so certain that help, whether it’s positive reinforcement or some other method, will change their life for the better, but their fear of the unknown can send them spiraling into a multitude of self-destructive behaviors.
We begin to focus too much on what can’t be…
…Or how we’ve tried in the past and it wasn’t good enough, or sometimes even how we reached our goal but it didn’t feel as good as we thought it should. Our minds make up scenarios and often we unknowingly begin acting in ways we subconsciously believe will make people give up on us, again. These subconscious beliefs that we’re not good enough, or we don’t deserve “it” begin to surface. We try and try again, but since we are never taught how to deal with subconscious behavior, it continues and the cycle repeats over and over again. After a while, even just the thought is exhausting!
There’s an old Cherokee tale —
“One evening an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people. He said, “My son, the battle is between two wolves that are inside us all.
One is Evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.
The other is Good. It is joy, peace, love, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith.”
The Grandson thought about this and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf wins?”
The old Cherokee replied, “The one you feed.”
Positive reinforcement is how we “feed” our inner wolves.
At D’Amore Healthcare we know feeding is based on “law of effect”.
For example, an individual’s behavior with positive consequences tends to be repeated, but individual’s behavior with negative consequences tends not to be repeated. People are sensitive to the presence or absence of a reinforcer to the degree of Gracious Redundancy. B. F. Skinner’s operant conditioning (positive reinforcement) gets to the heart of behavior change by showing individuals the power of positive behavior and positive rewards.
I met a patient, who originally came to us after having been to 20 plus treatment centers and held onto a belief that nothing was going to ever help him overcome his substance abuse craving. He had “too many mental problems”, “too many behavior problems”, everything was too much or too dumb in his words. He told me during his intake, “I know the game. I’ll be here for maybe 10 days before I’m kicked out, watch”
This patient had multiple past traumas, mental health concerns, and a rampant desire for anything that would alter his mind momentarily.
I’m happy to say that this patient stayed with us for more than his allotted 10 days. Although in the beginning he held onto this belief that he couldn’t focus in groups, he didn’t like certain staff, we weren’t working fast enough for him, he couldn’t do “it” and life wasn’t fair. I won’t lie, his start was very rocky, to say the least. He refused to go to group meetings, refused to work with us at first. Slowly but surely, he began to test out the positive reinforcement system for himself. He soon became one of our hardest working patients. He was able to address his concerns head on in group sessions as well as individual sessions. With unconditional positive regard, he was able to see that we were not going to give up on him and that he is good enough!
Build Me Up — Positive Reinforcement
This is a very common theme that I have seen since we’ve implemented the BMU, “build me up”, system; our positive reinforcement program. No one will ever just jump on board and be great! Greatness is a learned behavior for the majority of us and usually only comes once we are able to acknowledge our own self-worth.
At D’Amore Healthcare work diligently to offer gracious redundancy, treating each other and our patients with unconditional positive regard. We are breaking down those stereotypes and those subconscious patterns. Helping the individual create a new way of living that they are choosing to be proud of.
Our Qualified Staff at D’amore Healthcare is here for you. If you have any questions regarding help for yourself or a loved one please contact our admissions department 24 hours a day at 714.375.1110 or fill out the contact form.